Fascinating modern architecture to 1700 manor houses…it’s all good


Recently I’ve been reflecting about architecture. I’m reading a historical book called The Manor: Three centuries at a slave plantation on Long Island by Mac Griswold. This 70 year old woman, Mac, is a cultural landscape historian, a fascinating job. When she was a little girl in the 1950s growing up in New Jersey, Mac Johnston Keith would walk the two miles to Far Hills Country Day from her home near Bernardsville and along her way she’d see estates of the last century… overgrown with vines and trees poking up through what had once been gardens, landscaped knolls and tennis courts. “There were all these castles and towers and some were in ruins,” she explained during a chat this week at Sylvester Manor. “I explored them until I went away to boarding school in Virginia at age 12.”



I wrote this poem STILL LIFE about just such things:



still life


faded brick

hint of a mansion

never built


old packhorse

dark wet sand

wind and rain

matte black line

moving into the background

end of the trail


entering another world

kinetic individual

lifelike laughter

of the fairies

up on the dark peak


natural rock formations

miscellany of the fascinating


from the tumult of the world

‘quite simply different’



take drama to new heights

in broken splendour

shameless coastal castle

still life

I don’t have the credentials of Mac Griswold but I do admire what she does and I share her curiosity with things and people that have “come before.” She can walk among invasive species in a bog and recognize how native species choked out this vegetation. She then makes comparisons to the arrival of immigrants and the “pushing out” of Native Americans. She sees the landscape in a way I can’t because she has a knowledge of such things as horticultural history…like the boxwoods people chose for their hedges in the 1700s and the way they served as barriers to entry points to manor windows. People feared slave revolts then and for good reason; but Security Alert Systems did not exist yet.

Modern architecture at its best is nothing like the agricultural (largely self sufficient) manors of yesteryear Mac writes about… with their pillars, porticos and yellow brick and their grounds, woods, orchards, gardens, and lakes or ponds where fish were plentiful. And that’s as it should be. Preserve the past, be a steward for that which has gone and look around for these Suess-like buildings:










            Both my grandchildren were born in March, as was my father. My grandson shows a way with words and a creative ability in his artwork and in his deep thinking, just like his father, my son. My granddaughter is in turn like her father; my other son-, with her gift for mimicking, her inquisitive curiosity about nature and wonder at what makes things work. She was born on Dr. Suess’s birthday. I can’t help be reminded of Suess’s fascinating world when I view this architecture…

Oh the thinks we can think and the places they’ll go!

If these images are not in public domain, pls contact me! I will remove them or give credit!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s