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Hollyhock Building and the Art of Naming Things

hollyhock house - Carolyn Daughters

I call this photo Hollyhock Building. I’m chock full of photo naming suggestions. Please reach out if you’re looking for my help in this regard.


Hollyhock Building in Swansea, Denver

I take long walks around my Elyria-Swansea Denver neighborhood several times a week. Sun, exercise, exploration — what’s not to love? I’m usually snapping photos with my phone. Street art. Cityscapes. Hollyhocks.

Mine is a working-class neighborhood through and through.

In Elyria-Swansea, single-family homes are interspersed with larger areas of industrial development such as Nestle Purina, Denver Union Stockyards, Cintas Uniform Services, Denver Pepsi Cola Bottlers, Eaton Manufacturing, and the Denver County Vehicle Impound. Simple homes, several taquerias, lots of commercial buildings. And hollyhocks springing up in rock yards, construction sites, and hellstrips. Hellstrips are those oft-neglected patches of land between sidewalks and streets. You now have a name for them. You’re welcome.

Hollyhocks are all kinds of amazing. They grow tall and proud, a pure wonder as they wave in the wind. Real showstoppers. Buildings, on the other hand, are less amazing. Generally speaking. Though I’d be willing to try a stint at Frank Lloyd Wright’s 36-acre Hollyhock House in East Hollywood. He built it for an oil heiress, who, like many of us, was in the market for a place with 17 bedrooms and 7 baths.

The heiress hated the place. She wasn’t wild about Wright’s design. That, and water supposedly flooded the living room daily from all the lawn watering. Just one housing headache after another. But then, such is the life of an heiress.

Hollyhock House and the Art of Naming Things

All that brings me round to the art of naming things. A few years back, a client offered to pay me a small fortune to name a retirement village. Naming things is not my forte, and I would have been the worst possible person for this job. Which is exactly what I told my client.

As an example, my company’s name is Gower Street, a name that brings me great joy and causes many prospective clients great confusion. In the pursuit of great clarity (or at least greater clarity than I’ve gone for in the past), I would have ended up calling the retirement village Furlough Estates or Ye Auld Nursing Home. Much as I ended up calling the photo above Hollyhock Building. The full name of the photo is Hollyhock Building with Weird, Green, Waterbottle-Looking Thing on the Right Side.

Want me to name your business, course, book, or palatial estate? That, my friend, will be a hard pass.

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