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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 11, no. 251: January 4, 1873

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AND BUILDERS GUIDE Vol. XI. NEW YORK, SATUEDAY, JANUARY 4, 1873. No. 251. Ptibîixhed M'eeklu h'u THE REAL ES PATE REOOUD ASSOCIATION. TERIK. One year. In adv.ince......................§6 00 AU cominiinications should lie addressed to C "W. SWKEIT. 7 AND 9 WAUREN STRKHTT. No receipt for inoiiey due tire RK.\.Ti Est.\te Riccoiin will be acknowledged unlo.sf^ siiçned by one oE our regnlar collectors. Heniiy D, S.Mri'ii or Thomas P, Commings. A.11 bîlls for collection wiU be sent frotn the office ou a regit- larly priiited form. A Complexe Index of the New York Con- veyances of Real Estate, as pnblished in the Record, arranged so that at a glanée référence can be made to the sale of any lot published in the last volume, will be ready for deliyery next week. Application should be made imniedi- ately, in person or by letter, at the ofiBLce of the Recoud. Attention is directed to the very able re- view of the Canada Lumber Market for the year 1873, compUed and arranged by our spécial Correspondents, Messrs. Carbray & Routh. ABÏÏSE OF THE MANSAET ilOOF. The London Standard^ in commenting upon tîie late Boston fire, and the important part played in it by the so-caUed Mansart roofs, makes some severe comments upon our abuse of this really handsome architectural feature, and in doing so takes the opportunity of read- ing us a lecture upon certain other architectural peculiarities among us, which unfortunately strikes rather hard, as no one of any observa¬ tion can venture to deny the truthf ulness of the remarks. Treating of the Bo.ston fire the writer says :— By far the larger part of the buildings de- stroyed in the late fire at Boston, after rising flve or six stories into the air, were surmounted by tall sloping roofs, miscalled after Mansart, the great French architect. whose name is thus unjustly consigned to lastingdishonor in Ameri¬ ca. Thèse roofs were whoUy of timber, thiniy sheathed with slate or zinc, and, consequently, were nothing more nor less than great tinder- boxes, which blazed up with inconceivable rapidity as the fiâmes f rom the other side of the Street were blown over against them. At this great height,often 100 ft. above the ground, the streams from the fire-engines could do little exécution, and thus, in a short time, whole acres of warehouses were on fire at the top, and it seemed impossible to prescribe bounds to the area of dévastation. This is but a réitération of the testimony that was given by ail the correspondents of our own newspapers, and although the Boston disaster has had the effect of throwing discrédit upon the Mansart roof—to a;n extent almost to insure the future prohibition of it-ritis very clear that the fault was not in the use but the abuse of ■ fui and beautiîul, regardless of ail dictation an architectural feature which intrinsically has nothing dangerous .about it, if only properly constructed, as it might be made compulsory to be. In alluding to that insane thirst after mère novelty and f ashion in architecture, which we hâve so often deprecated in thèse columns, the Standard says :— In the United States certain architectural novelties and innovations hâve a run like anew style of dres~à or a new pattern of vehicle. In former days, not very long ago, the Grecian architecture was the fashion, and houses of ail conceivable kinds, churches, collèges, gaols, private dwellings, were erected after the man- ner of the Athenian temples. Parthenons of piue and Erechthemns of lath and plaster arose ail over the land, the village school-house had its portico and the rich man's country-seat boasted its péristyle, To the Grecian succeeded the Gothic Pointed manner, in which ail new structures were built, from a pork-packing house to a penitentiary. Tins flourished for a time and passed away. At the présent mo¬ ment the reigning madness in architecture is the Mansart roof, which is indisciiminately ap- plied to houses of ail shapes and pattems, large azid smaU, without the least regard to the pur- poses for which they are intended. Many of thèse roofs are themselves of three stories, and rise forty feet or fifty feet above the eaves or cornice, and as in ninety-nine cases in a hun- dred they are made of wood, with the flimsiest covering, they ofEer to a fire the greatest possi¬ ble opportunity for working mischief. Could any photograph be more truthful ? Take a walk through the city, that portion of it especially above Union square which has of late years become so prolific in huge hôtels, and look at the many buildings that answer precisely this description. How short a time ago, too, is it when the Mansart roof was utterly ttnknown hère, when indeed the roof seemed to be eonsidered as a thing to be kept out of sight, and fiât tin roofs surrounded by copings were univei"sal. But when the ' ' fashion " once be- gan, how rapidly it took—in Boston and Chica¬ go it went at last literally like wild-fire—and eveiy one who wanted his house ^or store alter- ed came to the conclusion that the only way to hâve a fashionable and genteel appearance was to top it with a Mansart. A device which was originally intended to take away from the in- ordinate height of buildings was hère—by a ridiculous misapplication of idea—actually used to increase it, and the meanest little two-story shanties, in trying to ape the dignity of thetr neighbors, instead of increasing the height of their front walls, deliberately stuck on one or two stories of flimsy slanting roofs and dormers, and then thought they had done something grand in the fashionable "Mansart" line. A little dwai-f trying to add to his stature and dignity by donning the shako of some gigantic grenadier cotdd not make himself more prepos- terously absurd. Until our proprietois, archi- tects and builders leam how to follow the use- from the shaUow whims of fashion, they must expect to fînd their productions the butts of ridicule not only eibroad but at home. WEY NOT COMPAETaiEïrTSI In view of the singular fatality from fire which has attended granité and iron structures recently, it would be well for the business com- munity to take into considération, the subject of compartment stores and buildings. If busi¬ ness édifices were subdivided by iron partitions, with ii-on doors and shutters, fires might be con- fined to the location whence they originate. Mr. A. T. Stewart's great store is fire-proof, but it is fiUed with inflammable goods. Let thèse catch fire aud there is nothing to prevent the fiâmes rushingup thewide staircases, and min- ing the goods in the upper stories ; but were it possible to eut off sections of the store so as to isolate the fiâmes, many valuable buildings might be saved. Ad this is cqjropos of the bum- ing of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The destruction of fire-proof buildings, so caUed, is really a serions matter and a discrédit to our architects. Our financial institutions de- mand absolute security from fire, and the con- structors of our future warehouses and stores must see to it that they can erect buildings saf e from so dire a disaster. A peculiar mode of fire Insurance is prac- tised in France, by which a party can insure himself from any damages that may occur to his property through fire arising on a noighbor's promises, but not if the fire originates on his own. The object of this is evidently to cieate greater care and watehf alness on the part of each householder, making each individual, as it were, a watchman against fire. The scheme seems an ingenious one ; for whUe it insures a man against the négligence of others, which is beyond his control, it makes each man individu- ally responsible for the carelessness of his own household, which is about the surest way of guaranteeing watchfulness on the part of indi" viduals. It also seems only just that responsi- bility should f ail where it really belongs, and hence the scheme is in every respect a very f air one. So many instances are constantly occur- ring of fires originating from the greatest négli¬ gence or oversight, by which people endanger the property of others wMle their own may be carefully covered by insurance, that this scheme, when closely investigated, appears a very ingem- ous way of meeting the difficuJty. At any rate, if it succeeds in France, there is no reason why it should not equaUy do so hère, where reckless- ness is perhaps more of a gênerai characteristic than in any other quarter of the civilized world. Under such a system not only would a larger amoïint of gênerai wat«hfui;iess.resylt, feïlt an