Last weekend I attended the estate sale of a retired British antiques dealer here in DC and one of the treasures I picked up was a book on the Houses of James Means. I've been attending a lot of these local estate sales recently to feather my new nest.
The majority of Means's work is in the Atlanta, Georgia area and his name is still a catch phrase with many realtors in that region. A steadfast classicist in an age of modernity, his work heavily influenced Atlanta's residential architecture and many developers still working in the city. See a contemporary photo of the above house at Things that Inspire blog HERE.
What I find most surprising is that Means incorporated a lot of reclaimed materials to lend patina to his classical designs. Bricks from torn down churches, wood beams from barns, etc. This sounds very avant garde to many of us but Means was doing this as early as the 1950s! While rooms had been imported from Europe for generations before, actual building materials was a bit unusual.
His work was heavily split between beautiful Colonial and Georgian houses, and French Provincial. I love his lean interpretation of these French styles, many based on actual chateau.
The Haverty Residence in Atlanta was inspired by the James River houses in Virginia. No planting beds were created against the house in European fashion. The cobblestone parking court was saved from Atlanta cobblestone streets which were being torn out.
The brick on the front facade was reclaimed from the Federal Reserve in downtown Atlanta, the columns on the rear porch were rescued from another building downtown, the balusters in the terrace wall above were from a Charleston, South Carolina house and the heart pine floors throughout were rescued from a house in Athen's Georgia.
The paneling in the interior was also built of reclaimed heart pine which took a year to collect.
The Hedges Residence was based on the Chateau Chantecaille in Touraine and sits on the crest of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee.
The brick, cobblestones, interior woodwork, doors and hardware here too were all salvaged from demolition sites. One problem during construction was to instruct the workmen to not make all of the salvaged materials too perfect and to keep some age on them!
The Moore residence in Atlanta was inspired by the houses of Charleston with a piano nobile above a full basement with double stairs to the main level.
The materials in this project were not reclaimed but were all hand-made or honed.
Each room features a custom designed surround and mantel with raised paneling and over-mantels.
A Palladian window at the staircase floods the front hall with light. You never know what you'll find at an estate sale!