Monday, January 27, 2014

The William H. Ross House, Seaford, DE

The William H. Ross House, Seaford, DE. 1859 Photos: Lee Cannon

 
The William H. Ross house is a truly monumental Italianate in the middle of nowhere; in southern Delaware near the Maryland border, the house is a sophisticated example of stucco Italianates associated with the 1850s in a rural setting. A southern sympathizer, like many in neighboring Maryland during the Civil War, Ross was a wealthy investor, governor, and slaveholder in Delaware. His house no doubt reflects his experience of the elaborate Italianates found in cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia. The house follows a side tower plan with some modifications. We would expect the front facade on the left to end with the tower, however, the architect added an extra gabled pavilion, which somewhat melds the house's side tower plan with the pavilion plan or irregular plan. The house, faced in brick, is full of arches. All the windows and shutters are arched as are the porch and main door. The monotony of arched windows, however, is broken by the variations in their deployment. On the left pavilion, we have paired broad tombstone windows, while the right pavilion has thin triple arched windows. On the tower, there are widely spaced tombstone windows, but only one window in the top stage that has Venetian tracery. Some of the windows have very simple drip moldings. The door is recessed in the base of the tower, which is uncommon in the side tower plan and resembles more the irregular plan. The door is a simple affair with a glass surround. The brackets as well are pretty simple. The simplicity of design and clean lines make this house a particularly lovely example, and the very appropriate paint job, which could have been pulled right from Downing, makes the house seem like a perfectly preserved example. The interior images are from HABS.




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The John Merrick House, Wilmington, DE

Photo: walkthetown

The Wilmington Club/Merrick House, Wilmington, DE. 1864
Photo: Wikimedia.
The former John Merrick house and current Wilmington Club is a lovely example of Italianate that is often overlooked. Constructed by John Merrick, an important carriage manufacturer and industrialist, in 1864, the house is currently home to the Wilmington Club, one of the oldest dining clubs in the country which purchased it in 1900. The house was designed by Edmund Lind an architect active in Baltimore and the south who is signficant in Baltimore for his designs for the Italianate Peabody Institute. Lind certainly seems to have made a name for himself as the go-to guy for impressive brownstone Italianates in the city during the mid 19th century. His work is centered around the Anglo-Italianate mode of design that more closely follows Renaissance precedents and can be seen extensively in Baltimore. As a specimen of his work, the Merrick house does not disappoint. It follows the five bay plan which we have seen in other urban residences such as the Graham House in Baltimore and the Wing Williams House in Albany.

The house is an impressive three stories tall and is faced in brownstone with quoins at the corners, beltcourses, and a wooden cornice. The windows alternate between round arched on the first two stories and filleted third story windows.The central bay contains double tombstone windows, emphasizing its central importance. The real beauty of this house lies in its exuberant stonework, which is heavily carved and shows some Renaissance/Rococo influence like that seen at the Backus House in Baltimore. The simple brackets and moldings are enlivened with dramatic swirls of foliage on the first floor; the second includes even more elaboration as well as a central cartouche/shield in the center broken pediment. The third floor has simpler molded surrounds with keystones, which provide some relief from the ornament below and give the facade a more grand appearance. Other interesting aspects are the stone balconies connecting thw pairs of windows on the first floor, the stone staircase balustrade, and the fact that the sides of the house seem to have been finished. It's a house I definitely find to be grand and beautiful and very typical of the wealth found in these cities in the 50s and 60s.

I have been referring to the carved parts as stone, but in fact they are excellent cement replacements. because brownstone delaminates, anything constructed in it has to be constantly maintained or replaced. I think they did an excellent job fixing the doo-dads and preserved the elegant appearance of the building.

                                                                    
Photo: walkthetown

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Charles William Horr House, Wellington, OH

The Charles W. Horr House, Wellington, OH. 1872 Photo: scottamus
This substantial Italianate was constructed in 1872 by W. C. Horr, one of Wellington OH's important transformative 19th century businessmen. Horr was responsible for introducing industrial cheese production in Wellington and the prosperity he brought caused a boom of construction in the town. This home once sat on a massive 30 acre plot, although today it is surrounded by newer homes. The house is a symmetrical plan Italianate, with a projecting central bay, sided with wood. The central body has flushboards that simulate stucco while the wings and ells have clapboard siding. The windows of the first floor are round arched, while those on the second are segmentally arched. The hood moldings are particularly interesting and have some parallels in other Midwestern homes. The center of each molding follows the curve of the window but at the ends straightens to a horizontal line and then has a vertical element. They appear to be cast iron. The whole shape suggests Spanish architecture to me. The porch is a simple affair with some gingerbread soffits and the cornice is paneled and filleted. The cupola of this house is interesting. Lower than many of them, it has the dimensions of a monitor and is rectangular rather than square. The central section of each side has a pointed window that causes the cornice to project up. Unlike other cupolas which tend to have exaggerated brackets, this one has diminutive examples. Finally something seems to be up with the side wing. A porch stretches across part of it, but the porch cornice seems to continue across the facade. This might suggest that the wing was built after the porch and it was susequently filled in.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

The John Hart Whorton House, Appleton, WI

The John Hart Whorton House, Appleton, WI. 1875 Photo: bigcityal
This house was built in 1875 by John Hart Whorton, an important banker. It is an interesting example of the side tower plan, in that unlike other examples, the central recessed section is extremely short and the tower is unusually large. The tower is emphasized by the slightly projecting roof at the base of the top stage. Odd as well is the porch that runs across the entire front of the house, since in other examples the porch can only be found in the central facade section. The porch is also interesting for its long spans which are emphasized by the simple gingerbread. The facade is faced in yellow/cream brick which is a common feature in Wisconsin with brownstone highlights, creating a highly polychromatic effect. The windows are all arched, and the hood moldings consist of slightly projecting brick with brownstone keystones and finials. The style of this house, with its prevalence of arched windows, brick, and polychrome is sometimes called Lombardic, because it has a close affinity with the Romanesque architecture of the Lombards in Italy which was being publicized in the 19th century. So-called Lombardic ornament is of course just one of the many subsets of Italianate design.

The cornice on this house with its panels and s-curve brackets is particularly large, in keeping with the exaggerations in the plan and scale of other elements. Interestingly, the brackets do not continue around the base of the top stage of the tower, making it appear disconnected from the main house. Perhaps the best thing about the house, in my opinion, is how sensitively it is painted. The trim colors emphasize and harmonize with the colors of the stone and bricks of the facade, making the whole look like a consistent architectural unit. It is a testament to how a well painted Italianate can look.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Horace C. Starr House, Elyria, OH

The Horace C. Starr House, Elyria, OH. 1857 Photo: Wikimedia
The Horace C. Starr house in Elyria, OH at first glance seems like a typical symmetrical plan villa of the 1850s. Built by Starr in 1857, it is currently the home of the Lorraine County History Center. It has the typical features of an early Italianate house: stucco siding, cupola, paired brackets dividing the bays, and simple Renaissance detailing around the windows. The use of triangular, straight, and curved pediment hood moldings are often found in villas of this periodand hearkens back to Palladian and Renaissance precedents.. What is unique are the eccentric brackets. The brackets are pierced and instead of conforming to the expected design of brackets, they are formed by a large s-curve that includes several spirals emerging from the form and complicating the design. The ends of the brackets are capped by a finial. These transform an otherwise simple house into a truly interesting piece of design. There are a few houses in Ohio that seem to have these types of open spiral brackets, so it seems to be a vernacular element peculiar to Ohio and perhaps some local carpenter.



Monday, January 13, 2014

The Susan Sturges House, Mansfield, OH

The Susan Sturges House, Mansfield, OH. 1880 Photo: Wikimedia
The Susan Sturges House (NRHP) in Mansfield is located at 317 Park Ave. in Mansfield and was occupied by Sturges, an important local philanthropist. It is a late wooden Italianate from c. 1880, but the home appears to embody the style of the 1860s and 70s rather than the stripped down version of Italianate seen in the 80s. The house follows the rotated side tower plan with a long bay on the left side of the front and a short bay on the right side, giving the front an asymmetrical appearance. The two story front porch, an unusual feature, may be a later addition to the house; it certainly suggests more southern precedents. If it is later, it was designed to harmonize in a simplified form with the more elaborate side porch seen in the back. The house has simple eared, pedimented window surrounds that suggest Greek Revival style, but these are enlivened by keystones with incised Eastlake carving. The brackets are simple s-curve types, and the cornice includes elliptical panels and windows, a feature commonly seen in earlier decades. The feature I like most about the house is the fantastic wooden awning highlighted in the photograph below. Unlike the commonly seen forms with a half hip roof that slopes, this one has a triangular gable the curves and is enlivened by wooden gingerbread. This is a truly delightful feature!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The John Foos House, Springfield, OH

The John Foos House, Springfield, OH. 1870 Photo: Wikimedia
The John Foos house at 810 is perhaps the most imposing Italianate in the East High Street Historic District. The house follows the symmetrical plan with a projecting central bay and is across the street from the Rinehart-Bowman house to which it bears a resemblance. It was built by John Foos in 1870, making it contemporary with the other houses in the area. Foos was one of Springfield's most important and diverse manufacturers, running mills and making sewing machines and agricultural equipment. The house's pretensions match Foos' wealth. It is faced in limestone and the facade is defined by a strong belt course molding and engaged pilasters at the corners. Everywhere the house has thick Renaissance detail embellished with carving, a level of elaboration characteristic of the 1870s. As in the Rinehart-Bowman house, the first floor windows are segmentally arched while those above are rectangular with Eastlake incosed carving. The surrounds have heavy molding, pilasters, columns, and brackets. The pilasters and the porch columns are broken up with horizontal bands; again, this level of elaboration and the complexity of the column with all those extra moldings are very 1870s. I personally like that the facade's plain stone sets off the elaboration around the windows. The porch itself features an impressive stone balustrade rather than the expected iron.

The cornice is paneled, featuring s curve brackets and is broken by windows. The central bay is particularly emphasized by a broken pediment with a central urn and jigsaw foliage carvings. This broken pediment is similar to that found in the Kies House in Cleveland. The painting of the cornice to resemble darker brownstone is appropriate to Victorian color schemes. Perhaps the most unique feature of the house is the second door on the left side, which is particularly odd. I am not sure why a second door was included on the front, but it might have led to Foos' office. At any rate, it is an unexpected feature. Also, the front of the house has a patio running the entire front facade with an iron fence surrounding it. With so many original and interesting details, the Foos house is one of the most impressive specimens in Springfield.