The Cracker: An Iconic House Type

No Cheese, Please

I just returned from the Chrysalis Remodeling Awards jury in Jacksonville, where I was reminded of one of the great American house types: the Florida Cracker. According to architect Ronald W. Haase, author of the excellent Classic Cracker: Florida’s Wood-Frame Vernacular Architecture, the term “cracker” originally referred to country folk in Southern Georgia who “cracked their corn to make meal.” For settlers of  northern Florida it also meant

Boyer Cottage, 1878, from Pinellas County Heritage Village

 

 

 

 

 

the crack of leather whips used to drive cattle and ultimately became identified with the unpretentious wood-frame houses that these individuals built. The Boyer house of 1878 at Tarpon Springs, shown above (photo courtesy Heritage Village, Pinellas County) is a good early example. A gable or hip-roofed structure that’s only one or two rooms deep with at least one porch, the Florida Cracker

800px-TlhMusFarmHs from Wikipedia

developed numerous variations, from porches on two sides, as shown above in a reconstruction at the Tallahassee Museum (photo courtesy Wikipedia); to a

dogtrot

 

breezeway through the middle forming the classic “dogtrot” type, shown here and which I have written about before, some might say obsessively (photo courtesy oldhouseweb.com); to Georgian four square hip-roof versions as

haase foursquare georgian

illustrated by Haase in his book — note the front and back porches and the central hall connecting all four rooms (image courtesy Pineapple Press). As Haase points out, the Cracker is as expressive of a regional architecture as the New England saltbox or the Southwestern adobe ranch house. It’s also a very suggestive form to use as  a starting point for anyone thinking of building a house because the components –  square room, porch, and shed, gable, or hip roof — are so straightforward, simple, and easy to combine in different ways. It’s almost like playing with blocks — as actress Diane Keaton points out in her

464-4e-1628-w1024x768

recent book House. So here’s a quick sampling of plans that do just that, from Plan 464-4, above, which resembles the Boyer cottage, to Cabin Plan 452-3 by David Wright, below — which looks as though the Tallahassee Museum

HPW0806G.S01_31167

reconstruction has simply been fine-tuned with corrugated metal and some new posts, to Plan 426-11, which reworks the four square, hip roof idea  and adapts it

426-11e-1622-w560x420

for easy, modern indoor-outdoor living in a humid climate. See how the plan almost becomes a dogtrot thanks to the way the central axis cuts through the

426-11mf-1622-w1024

house from front porch to rear porch and how the the central living room and the rear porch become extensions of each other. This plan  was recently purchased by a Florida family with forbears who were Crackers — so you can go home again, as long you understand that things will be “the same only different” and perhaps a little more comfortable.  Call it the “Circle of Life” — I mean Cracker.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s