Houses Designed by George Maher
House Beautiful, November 1908
Serrel House, Kenilworth, IL
The five houses reproduced were designed by George W. Maher and while not his most representative work, are interesting examples of the concrete dwelling, built within the average suburban lot. In the home of Mr. W. L. Serrell at Kenilworth a particularly pleasing composition is seen. The long, straight roof, the sturdy chimney, the strong outlines, the simple but diversified window treatment produce a very simple and dignified result.
In the next house we find a freer handling and a more composite design. Mr. Maher believes that a house should express the personality of the occupants rather than that of the architect, and that all dwellings, large or small, expensive or otherwise, should be backgrounds for the people who live within them. He feels that the hall mark of the architect should not be unduly prominent, and that no man should so leave his imprint on his work that his hand is immediately recognized. This touches an interesting point, and one that might draw out an extended discussion from both architects and clients. It is a real or fancied grievance with many house builders that their own individuality has been effaced by that of their architect.
Carman House Floor Plan
In the five houses under consideration varying personalities are expressed, and while the medium is one and the same, there is little similarity in design. In the third illustration another Kenilworth home is given, showing arched openings and an interesting leaded glass decoration. Vines and shrubs add greatly to the beauty, and emphasize the fact that all concrete houses are tremendously helped by growing things. Not only does that green of vine and shrub soften bold outlines, but the shadows gained are especially effective against the rough surface of the walls. Concrete is such a strong and forceful medium that it needs the sharp contrast of light and shade and this fact architects seldom overlook. Pergolas and porch roof serve a double purpose, thereby giving shadows which add greatly to the picturesque value of any concrete house. Such shadows on brick or frame would pass unheeded, but against the neutral tones of concrete they become on of the beauties of an exterior.
Corbin House - George Maher
The importance of this feature in concrete designing has been well understood by Mr. Maher and in each house illustrated will be found its expression by means of an overhanging roof, a gable, a pergola, or in the treatment of an important window.
In the Carmen house at Kenilworth concrete is combined with sand brick, making possible a different type of dwelling. What would otherwise be a rather austere façade is tempered by an interesting porch treatment, by the pergola, and by an attractive harmony of color. The sand brick of the first story is a trifle lighter than the plaster of the second, while the roof and pergola are several tones deeper. The truth and largeness of the exterior are continued in the plan, which is designed in broad and simple lines.
A largeness of a different kind is shown in the final house, which is a modification of the "square" swelling of earlier days. Dignity and repose characterize this design, which stands for certain principles seldom absent from this man's work.
Rudolph House, Highland Park, IL
Mr. Maher believes that the interior of a house should not belie the exterior and that the furnishings should express simplicity, dignity, and repose. Particularly does he believe that houses in this country should typify the American spirit, and that the simplicity and vigor of American life at its best should be expressed in our dwellings. This does not mean that the traditions of the past should be ignored, but that they should be interpreted in new forms.
Source: Maher, George W. "Houses Designed by George W. Maher" House BeautifulVol 14 No 6(November 1908) 131-132.
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