Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Victorian Remnant on Smithfield Street

633 Smithfield Street

Americans don’t look up. That is the best explanation old Pa Pitt can come up with. It accounts for a number of phenomena: our blank, undecorated ceilings, or even worse our acoustical-tile ceilings; the disappearance of cornices and the healing of the scars thus left with the aluminum equivalent of duct tape; and the way builders and even architects renovate lower floors of a building without even a glance at what the remainder above looks like. Here we have a bedraggled building from 1883 that could be splendid if it were restored, or just renovated with some minimal taste. But what shall we even call that shingly excrescence on the lower two floors? We also note that all the upper windows are gone except on the third floor, where someone has installed a stock glass sliding door. “I’m just stepping out for a breath of fresh air,” says the visitor…

The Brutalist spiral next door would have been a striking feature in a block of modernist buildings; it seems like, and probably was, a deliberate insult here.

Top of the building qith 1883 date stone
Ornamental woodcarving

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