In the “Chesterfield-and-Pine-Streets district” of Birmingham, I notice that there is a great number of detached houses with six openings on their facade – three windows on top and two windows plus one door at the bottom. I call them “double decker” because one story stacks on top of the other like a double decker bus in London. These similar houses all have subtle difference built in to them, for example the placement of the door, the exterior materials and colors, the location of the chimneys, the shape of the windows and the treatment of the entryways.
My professor once explained that the way older suburbs were developed had contributed to the wide variety of “looks” in these houses. Back in 100 years ago, a builder or a developer would buy a subdivision and build houses on it. The same builder would build basically do one design on the same block but each house would have some difference. And then an owner of the next block may really like this design and would ask the same builder to take care of his block. This process may continue on several nearby blocks until the next owner wanted to build something else. It is very likely that these similar houses share a lot of similarities in their interior layouts, for example their kitchen arrangements and where the bathrooms are.
What more interesting is, these houses have each evolved with time and have become a little different from each other. Some have a conservatory in the back and some have a garage attached to it on the side. It is hard to believe these “double decker” houses are so adaptable that a majority of them have survived so many years.
chesterfield st and pine st, birmingham, michigan, 2012