The soul of a building

Posted: July 27, 2015 in Miscellaneous
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When we moved into our rental house, one of our daughters said it had no soul.  Although it was clean and new, I understood what she meant.  Too many buildings these days seem to have no soul.  The house we owned in Cleveland not only was well-built, but was filled with little details that showed the care the builder took.  It lit our eyes when we first saw it, huge windows letting the sunshine in to illuminate hardwood floors.

This shot from downtown Cleveland shows the soul of a building.  Does your house have soul?  If so, what makes it that way in your eyes?  What buildings have shaped you?  If you comment, feel free to leave a link to a photo of a building that you love and that has shaped you or simply a building you find beautiful that has soul.

A real building is one on which the eye can light and stay lit.
~Ezra Pound

IMG_3159We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.
~Winston Churchill

  1. Suzanne says:

    What an interesting post. You’ve really made me think. The converted dairy I rented had soul – maybe it was the essence of cow 🙂 Very calm! Jokes aside I did once renovate an old house. When I finished I felt that although I’d made it visually pleasing I had somehow lost the soul of the building in the process. The house I rent now doesn’t have much soul but I will be moving soon to a place that seems more soulful. I’m not sure if I have any photos of buildings with soul. I’ll have to go through my archives.

    • Suzanne, what gives a house/building soul is a subject for a whole post on its own. Part of it depends on the person who lives there, what she likes, etc. But if you can live in a place with that feeling, it’s a blessing.


  2. Leya says:

    Very interesting post. It makes me start thinking about what has shaped me. This thing about a soul is what first hits you when coming into a new home or a new hostel or hotel. Of course my own home has

  3. Leya says:

    …soul, but let me think. There are houses I’ve entered with so much soul that I will never forget them…I’ll be back with something…

    • Money doesn’t have to have anything to do with it, either, Leya. Sometimes you just walk into a place that makes you feel good and it’s wonderful.


  4. nowathome says:

    That is true, it’s the little details that makes it yours! We are in the process of building a house, I hope that we’ve put a soul into it! 🙂

  5. Leya says:

    I cannot find a reasonable picture or post of mine but this one: I do not generally photograph inside people’s houses, but I have got some ingredients here. Windows with enough room to put flowers and other beautiful things on. A Not “too perfect” look on everything. Craftmanswork and the feeling that people can Live here, it shouldn’t be a house of exhibition only.
    In my house I have a sign saying “A home without a dog is just a house”

    • Although WordPress didn’t want to cooperate this morning, I finally got your post to load, Leya. You have some of the touches there that provide the soul and the individuality of the owner on a house. Your sign is a good one and your dogs are adorable.


  6. Lena says:

    I totaly agree, some buildings have a soul and others don’t. I have only lived in one house that I really feldt at home in, and that house had a very large soul. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of that house since it was before my “photo” days but it was a big yellow wooden house that used to be the house of the church’s staff across the street. I loved that house!

    • Lena, some houses just grab your heart and hold on to it. Our first house was that was, although it had some things that caused my husband to dislike it. There was so much about it that was just what I loved and I felt at home there immediately.


  7. megtraveling says:

    That is a wonderful picture, full of personality!

  8. Isn’t that just the truth. I love buildings with personality and character. Gorgeous staircase you photographed! 🙂

    • I like when old buildings are used for new businesses, at least the old buildings filled with this sort of beauty. Although not every old building was beautiful, overall I think there was a pride in workmanship and the little things that’s too often lacking in today’s cookie cutter houses and buildings.


  9. Maggie C says:

    Wonderful photo and thought-provoking post. The house that came to mind for me was an old forest service home in the Ochoco forest in Oregon where I spent a weekend with my family. Very restorative. Here’s the photo:

  10. For me my children gives my home a soul. I am renting a house that I don’t like – it is what I can afford. But it is not my home. But I am on the lookout for somewhere where I can really settle into. Great photo by the way.

    • Raewyn, I think you’ve hit the core of the discussion–people make the home. But for a house to be a home in and of itself, there has to be something special, that “something” that you’ll be looking for when you can get your own place. Glad you enjoyed the photo. The entire building was fantastic.


  11. trablogger says:

    Great capture. Curves, tone and the patterns. Nice

  12. Wow, what a stairwell! I think our current house has soul, but just because I feel so comfortable in it.

    • The stairway went for several more stories and was stunning. Feeling comfortable in a house is a big part of it having soul. I’m glad you’re in a house like that.


  13. bythebriny says:

    Great architecture and gorgeous photo!

  14. Thoughtful idea, Janet.
    While moving several times to rental furnished houses or flats, in the beginning of my career, I always missed a soul there, something personal, that I could relate to. I’ve changed decoration, if allowed, just to feel the place had some life.
    The house I live now, which is ours, has a soul. We thought of every single detail and it has our taste and our things. I feel home there.
    Thanks for this post.

    • Lucile, it’s wonderful that you live in a house that’s a home with a soul, reflecting you. That’s a blessing not everyone has.


      • Janet, I gave a bit more thought about that after writing the comment.
        When we first moved to this house, I didn’t spend as much time in it, as I do now, because my professional life was much busier than now and I was always abroad. I didn’t bring my soul to the house, I guess, as I was either tired or busy preparing to leave again.
        So my ‘theory’ is that maybe we can bring our soul to a building, and transform the initial feeling we had.

      • I think that’s true, Lucile. I think some houses have soul just on their own and some take their soul from those living in them. The latter is encouraging, as it means we can bring soul to at least some initially soul-less places.

      • So you can share that thought with your daughter, and she can bring her soul to the place she lives now. 😀

      • She was referring to the house my husband and I rent (she’s away at college.) She’s not really here much.

      • So maybe she feels like I did, while being in and out my own house??

      • She love our house in Cleveland, Lucile, and since we lived there for almost 30 years, that’s where she and her sister grew up. So besides the house itself, I’m sure that plays into it. But it was a beautiful house with much individuality and beauty.

      • I totally understand that. I’d miss that too.