Arts and Crafts Architecture

Midwest Architecture

Far too often I have found myself in places where people simply have no appreciation for architecture. They have no interest in the history of their home, or the qualities that make it unique. Whenever I start feeling badly about the general public's lack of aesthetics, I think about the hidden neighborhoods in cities across the country where people really do care - where they take time to learn about the Arts & Crafts style and restore old homes to their original beauty.

Such a place is Toledo Ohio's West End. A visit to the the city's "Old West End Festival" is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture restoration, preservation and history. Recognized as the largest collection of Victorian homes east of the Mississippi and the largest turn-of-the-century residential neighborhood in the U.S." Toledo's Old West End area contains many transitional or eclectic Craftsman, and great examples of early/classic Arts & Crafts style.

The neighborhood was home to many prominent citizen at the turn of the 20th century, but like many city neighborhoods it began to experience urban flight beginning in the 1960's. The West End fell into a decades-long period of decline during which it became undesirable and houses suffered. Efforts by the city to revitalize began in the 1990's, and the area has witnessed a dramatic revival. Low real estate prices, low taxes and other city-sponsored incentives have lured many young educated professionals to the neighborhood and the houses have been returned to their original glory.

The Festival offers the chance to stroll along tidy streets and visit half-dozen or so of these old homes, but there is no reason to postpone a visit until the next Festival. If you love looking at beautifully restored Arts & Crafts home, and like to see a neighborhood that cares about its history, I urge you to pay a visit to Toledo.

For more information see:
The Grove Park Inn History
Biltmore Estate Web Site

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Photo: Abernathy-Shaw house, 1908, Alabama. Source: Brian K. Chatham, Wikimedia.