Pack Rat Palladio


Admission: I’m a column hoarder. And the past few days I’ve been laying about, recovering from minor ailments and watching, through binoculars, a nice old house get demolished. I had my eye on the columns from the front porch and I just happened to be watching as the workers started pitching those columns into a dumpster. Summoning a reserve of foolish energy, I ran over and asked the workers if I could have the columns. I now have four more columns for my collection. Kelly is concerned.

Over the years I’ve acquired quite a few columns. I think their abundance has something to do with the Dwell Magazinifiction of our old neighborhood. As poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay put it, “As public sex was embarrassing to the Victorians, public classicism is to us.” The mid-century modern crowd just doesn’t dig the Doric, the Ionic or the Corinthian. Columns, molding, wood siding, old windows and many other ornamental details have fallen out of favor and are ending up on the curb.

House flippers loss, my gain. I’ve put my column collection to work as a grape arbor:


As garden follies:
And a pretentious flanking of our back door:


I’ve done a bit of indiscriminate column hoarding too. This tacky one should probably have been let in the street:


As soon as I recover from last week’s kidney stone surgery, I plan on restoring the four I just scavenged for use either as a shade covering for the back patio, a neo-classical clothes line or an extension of our rose arbor entry.

Perhaps someday I’ll aspire to something as grand as the broken column house in the Désert de Retz.

Leave a comment


  1. So happy for your find! But how very sad that the old houses of Los Angeles are getting demolished more and more. I’d be very depressed having to watch that and knowing nothing that goes in its place will have the same history or charm. At least the columns survived and will be re-purposed. Hope you’re feeling better soon, too!

  2. Maybe in 30 years time when some new people are trying to put things back to what it was originally, you can offer them back and say ‘I remember when….’ Or take photos of what that house looks like now before they demolish too much of it. Now if those columns were added LATER then maybe they ARE trying to take the house ‘back it its roots’…OH WELL..
    Hope you feel better soon.
    By the way, I rather like that ‘tacky’ one and am glad you did not leave it in the street.

  3. I’m a Doric man myself, although I could go Ionic after a few drinks. :-). As a serial renovator (not a flipper, by the way) a lot of the charm of older homes is fantastically expensive or time consuming to restore. I do it because I love funky old stuff. But a cold hard look at the numbers tells most people to rip out the solid venerable built in goodies that have lasted a century and replace them with compressed dust and plastic veneers. Sad. As I like to say, no one will ever covet their great-grandmother’s fiberglass shower stall.

  4. next time the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art Southern California Chapter offers their 3-part Elements of Classical Architecture and the prerequisite Introduction to Classical Moldings I will let you know.

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