The other day I was visiting a friend and discussing possible options for her soon-to-be eco-friendly modular home. I went home afterward and stumbled upon a website about the demise of Coney Island while surfing the web for vacation rentals in New Orleans. And something clicked: deconstruction. A typical random chain of events ala internet, but seeing a bunch of constructed floats and ferris wheels reminded me of an old house catalog called “A Book of Plans.” This was a book that the Chicago House Wrecking Co. put out in 1913.
Around the turn of the last century, several pattern books were put out for homeowners to help them achieve their dreams. Books like Gustav Stickley’s “Craftsman Homes” were meant to make building easy and cheap for homeowners by cutting out the need for architects or craftsmen. Many people know of the Sears Catalog homes, but there were quite a few others models that took off as well. Some of my favorite older catalog companies, like the Chicago House Wrecking Co. also sold all of the wood and materials needed for their plans. By obtaining the rights to dismantle the Colombian Exposition and scavange other local fairs, homeowners were able to basically buy a giant doll house that they would then put together on site. I have to wonder how many people in the Chicago area are made with wood from the Columbian Exposition. I find this to be and incredibly cool thought.
I have no idea what happened to all of the materials that were smashed to bits at Coney Island, but I couldn’t find a single article about how any of it had been recycled. Please, if anyone out there does know, I’d love to hear about it.
And word to all of the new green kit home companies that are sprouting up all over tarnation: amusement parks are going bankrupt on a daily basis in this economy. Get dibs and save some of that old growth wood!