One hundred and fifty years ago, if you didn’t live on top of the store then you likely worked in your home.
Writer and architect Eleanor Jolliffe discussed this recently in an essay, “The Power of Home.” She points to Judith Flanders, who in her book “The Making of Home” (a wonderful read) describes how working people lived in the early 19th century:
“Among the working classes, the main room continued to be a place of labour. This might include sewing, weaving and other types of piecework, or taking in laundry, but also included many trades that with industrialization would shortly move out of the house to dedicated workspaces. An early-eighteenth-century widow in Birmingham kept a shop in her downstairs room, from which she also carried on her trade as a file-maker, the room therefore also containing an anvil and a bellows. Things were much the same in the USA, where in the late eighteenth century, 90 per cent of the population had beds or tools in the main room of their houses.”
We have wondered if the pandemic would change home design and revitalize our main streets; Eleanor Jolliffe has similar thoughts, writing in Building Design:
“While entirely working from home robs us of so much richness, an increased proportion of people working from home could bring real benefits to our cities. It may even help to rejuvenate local high streets and villages – as people stay closer to home, footfall increases in local centres and the resulting natural surveillance and community atmosphere Jane Jacobs writes of so eloquently may bring life back to quiet suburbs and country towns.”
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