Gables for Good Looking Out


Our little house is a charmer. For instance, the distressed hardware on the doors dates back to 1947. Not because it is fashionable to place distressed knobs on doors, but rather because nobody has bothered to replace them. The same is true of our blue and white kitchen tile, and I certainly dig those antique touches. Though some might argue that the house would be that much more charming with the addition of a second bathroom. I don’t know that bathrooms will ever go out of style.

The edifice you see pictured here, however charming, is not my little house. Though the gathering of gables may have given that away already.

Our family arrived at the century-old Claremont Hotel Club and Spa during a work conference of mine in Berkeley, CA. My wife stumbled across a discount rate for the place a few days before, and the downright reasonable price caused us to dampen our expectations of what we’d get. But walking the wide, wooden halls excited our kids to no end, as did jumping from one bed to the next in our cozy room. The Olympic sized pool lined by chaises won my wife over. For me, climbing the heights of the tower proved an adventure in itself.

I spied out from that iconic tower across the bay toward San Francisco, and down toward the neighboring cities of Oakland and Berkeley. This arresting sunset panorama stopped me in my tracks, at least for a few seconds before I pulled my camera out from bag. After all, photography was the reason I had asked permission to enter the tower — and daylight was fading fast. I worked fast to snap my photos almost missing the great view behind me.

While packing up my camera bag, I looked away from the sunset toward the opposite side of the hotel. There I caught a glimpse of the Claremont’s larger-than-life roofline. Pitched roofs like these aren’t all that common amongst modern-day hotels. Evidence includes that Holiday Inn box on the corner, or the Red Lion over by your local airport. This roof filled with gables (and windows that open and close!) hearkened back to architecture of old, transporting me for an instant across the ocean to Europe where hotels and mansions share this same look. I snapped a single picture for good measure and returned to the lower reaches of the atmosphere.

Months later I sat at my computer looking back over a variety of photos I had taken, looking for images that might be worth sharing. This Claremont roofline stood out to me, even moreso than the Bay Area landscapes I had captured that same evening. The angles, the age, the patterns, and the mystery of just what might be happening behind each darkened window intrigued me. I shifted into black and white mode and created what you see here.

You may see something old and weathered. I see old world charm and generations of stories sitting smack dab in the hills of Silicon Valley. And yes, there are plenty of bathrooms.

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What sorts of places transport you back in time? Tell us in commentland here below.