Most people who own rental properties regard them as investments and rarely get attached to them. Real estate is just another commodity, to be bought and sold at market prices and maximized profit. Back around the turn of the 20th Century, German buildings often contained wonderful displays of loving detail on their facades and in their interiors. Sandstone sculpture and stucco fixings. Perhaps this was testimoney to a more sentimental idea of home and hearth. Maybe it just reflected the abundance of cheap labor. Today it is unaffordable for most people. Frankfurt's inner city lost numerous buildings during World War II. Even though residential areas were not intenionally targeted, a walk through the Westend in Frankfurt quickly reveals where the bad bombing days happened. The closer one is to the commercial areas on the edge of the residential neighborhoods, the fewer older buildings remain. The houses built after the war usually lack character. They were built to satisfy a desperate need for housing, and resources were at a premium. I hardly bother to look at buildings built during the 1950's and 1960's. They are obvious and boring. I live in one. The bricks in our cellar are made of war debris. So it is with great joy that I pass by the house below, in most respects a typical 50's building -- but with a twist. Someone loves or loved this building. I'd like to meet the owner or owners and learn about the history of the house. What stood in its place before the war? What was left after the war? When and how was the house re-built? I'd like to meet the person who came up with the idea for the mosaic and the person who created it. Does the mosaic accurately reflect the atmosphere in the building? If so, it is a place in which I could imagine living.
Whenever I see signs of craft, I am reminded of my maternal grandfather. He was born in Germany in 1903 and trained as a master painter (Malermeister) and electrician. Everything he did, he did slowly, with great attention to detail. Our simple wood-frame homes in the US had elegant wallpapers from exotic materials. The wall painting was flawless. His old-fashioned canvas drop cloths were splattered maps of strange, unexplored worlds that called me to leave my suburban shelter and travel. In the last apartment where he lived in Florida, my grandfather had an unfished mural of a Rheingau landscape on his screened-in balcony wall that he had painted on wet plaster. I salute every flower of love and respect for beauty and place that blossoms in this desert of efficiency.