Los Angeles California
A dovecote graces the turret of this Hollywoodland “cottage” once owned by actress Gloria Swanson. Though diminutive in appearance, the house actually rises (or more properly, sinks) to a height of four stories at the rear thanks to its precipitous site.
Turrets, like many Storybook Style design features, were inspired by medieval and post-medieval vernacular and defensive structures. Vast numbers of Americans were stationed in Europe during the years of the Great War; many of these were future architects, contractors, and clients who, upon their return, were inspired to include the details of European vernacular architecture in their work.
The prototypes for the various turret forms seen in Storybook Style architecture include not only the circular towers of European defensive architecture, as might be assumed, but also from a more diminutive structure common to the French countryside--the dovecote. The practice of rearing pigeons in dovecotes dates back to Roman times; however, the earliest surviving examples are circular towers dating from the 16th century. Pigeons were prized for their meat and eggs, but above all for the valuable fertilizer gleaned from their droppings. By the 18th century there were some 42,000 dovecotes in France. Based on round, rectangular, or even hexagonal ground plans, these were substantial, free-standing structures unto themselves, often standing several stories tall. Many of the turrets seen on Storybook homes were inspired by such structures, and include some form of decorative dovecote as a reminder of this heritage.