Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Thomas E. Powell House, Columbus, OH

The Thomas E. Powell House, Columbus, OH. 1853
Both Photos Columbus Illustrated and History of Columbus


Although not part of E Town Street, but part of the E Broad Street area, another mansions street in its own right, I couldn't resist this rather bizarre Italianate of 1853. The house is a symmetrical plan Italianate with a brick façade, and it's in this paneled brick style that it is most distinctive. The house is divided by its brickwork into three bays by pilasters topped with moldings. The side bays enclose double windows with filleted corners, while the central bay has a rectangular triple window with narrow side lights. The lintels above seem to be stone with incised designs, eared, rising to a shallow point. But the entablature is truly strange, comprising on the side bays three evenly spaced segmental arches with some kind of projecting finials and panels that match the curve of the arches. In the central bay, there is a more elaborately framed trefoil curve that suggests a triple arched Palladian design, but it is strange that that is not reflected in the window. The porch similarly has this trefoil shape, albeit with open spandrels, resting on thin columns. I can't actually tell the forms of the brackets from the images. The cupola seems almost oversize for the house, with curved frames around the tombstone windows and a balustrade above. The Midwest liked its fancy brickwork, but this is a very odd design. The house was torn down in 1928.


The Francis C. Sessions House, Columbus, OH

The Francis C. Session House, Columbus, OH. 1840, alt. 1862
From: Columbus Illustrated
From: Illustrated History of Columbus

The Sessions house, built for a banker on E Town Street, certainly started life as a Greek Revival house, given its 1840 construction date. But it appears that it was transformed into a fine Italianate residence in an 1862 remodel. The house was torn down in 1924 to make room for the current Beaux Arts Columbus museum. The house was a symmetrical plan villa, with a projecting central bay with a shallow gable. While the central bay was decidedly flat, the side bays were articulated with elaborate brick work which formed a thick set of quoins at the corners and recessed frames for the central sections of each bay. Whether these were part of the original house is unknown, although it would be very atypical for a Greek Revival house to have such fripperies. On the first floor, the sides featured rectangular windows framed by delicate fringed porches (with almost invisible balustrades atop), perhaps of iron (that wisteria really makes it unclear), while above, the windows had small wooden awnings with a fringe. The central bay had a recessed entrance with, again, a porch with triple arches and a rather weird set of three arches in the central span. Above was an iron balcony with fancy urns at the corners in front of a wide arched window with a bracketed wooden awning forming a Palladian form. Above, the cornice has a strong resemblance to the Baldwin house which survives up the street, with elongated brackets the break into strong s curves. These enclosed a pair of windows with concave corners, another reminiscence of the Baldwin house. The whole was topped with an octagonal cupola, with pierced s curve brackets, paired windows (also seeming to have concave corners), and a lacy iron cresting. All the bells and whistles abounded, with a conservatory and a whole other cube built on back. A shame it didn't survive, but it was replaced by an exceptionally fine museum building.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The James F. Baldwin and Barzellai N. Spahr House, Columbus, Ohio

The James F. Baldwin House, Columbus, OH. 1853
The Barzellai N. Spahr House, Columbus, OH. 1873.
Built 20 years apart and standing at opposite edges of the East Town Street Historic District, these two five bay plan houses make an interesting pair. The Baldwin house, above, is the earlier and more elaborate of the two. It features a brick façade with exceptional moldings over the windows that consist of a segmental arch, blind, with foliate carvings and panels under an engaged triangular pediment. The cornice has a heavy architrave molding with paired brackets separating windows under a run of dentils. These brackets are rather unique, since most of their surface is flat with a rope molding, and only toward the top of the bracket do they curve out into a very sharp s curve with a finial at the end. The porch might be a later addition; the ironwork balcony over the front door, on the other hand, looks original, and the door may have featured a balcony resting on brackets. Finally, we have the low monitor/cupola with much bolder brackets. But a unique feature here is that the square windows feature wooden, pierced cut outs that give the windows the appearance of having concave corners. I actually really like the paint scheme on this house. It's very similar to those I see in my article on paint schemes illustrated in a book of the period.

The Spahr house, built for a reverend, is 20 years later, but not drastically different. Unfortunately, this house has suffered from some remodeling in the 1920s, with a new porch and very odd windows (18 over 18!). It looks to me that what once might have been more elaborate hood moldings have been cut down to flat forms, something that was all the rage in the early 20th century, perhaps as a way of reducing ornament. But the house does retain its paneled cornice with double s scroll brackets.


A third house of note is at 124 S Washington Street, a little ways from E Town. It is currently the Replenish Spa Co-op. One of the few houses we have seen that has its original porch, the delicacy of the details sets it apart. The house is also five bays, but the central bay sticks out from the façade and has a gable. The windows have engaged pediment moldings with Eastlake designs, resting on sculptural brackets. The central window in the gable is rounded with an eared surround. The cornice type is fringed, as it features a very fine trefoil fringe running as the architrave underneath the rotated s scroll brackets. This fringe is repeated on the gothic arch gingerbread in the gable, surrounded by fine jigsaw work of stars and rinceaux. The porch repeats these same decorative features, a fringe, which looks more Moorish than Gothic below, which runs under the gable and atop the posts. The brackets here have francy rinceauz on the sides and are elongated. Although I do not know anything about the house, it is definitely a product of the late 1860s or early 1870s.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Fernando Cortez Kelton House, Columbus, OH

The Fernando Cortez Kelton House, Columbus, OH. 1852


The Kelton house, just a bit past the houses featured in my last post, is not only well preserved on the outside but within, as it is currently a house museum which has a substantial collection of the family's objects intact. It's an early design, 1852, and as such is a somewhat transitional symmetrical house that grafts some Italianate features, notably brackets, onto what is essentially a Greek Revival design with slim stone lintels over the windows and a fine stone, Greek Revival door. The house does feature an early Italianate roof design. Like most early Italianates, there is no strong entablature or heavy sculptural quality to the cornice line. The brackets here are of the s and c scroll type and have deep ridges. One unique quality about this house is the tiny, fine drops at the corners of the eaves, a feature that is strikingly uncommon in Italianate houses and one of the coolest features on the house. It's also nice to see the original roof balustrade at the peak intact; roof balustrades were once a ubiquitous feature of 19th century architecture. Unfortunately, once they rotted off they were rarely replaced, distorting the appearance of many a house.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Bonnet and Bauer Houses, Columbus, OH

The Frank F. Bonnet House, Columbus, OH. 1870s

The Herman Bauer House, Columbus, OH. 1870s
These three houses, all built in the late 1860s/1870s, are associated with later residents. Their plan is nearly identical, being a side hall design. On the east side of the street, the Bonnet house is the more elaborate of the two, with curved lintels and moldings with, while the Bauer house has simpler lintels. Both have Eastlake incised designs cut into the stone. The first floor windows on both houses are very long, indicating they may once have had iron balconies. Both have entablatures that are very similar, with an architrave molding, entablature windows (octagonal on the Bonnet house), and s curve brackets. On the opposite side is a house in a better state of preservation.


More elaborate than either, 565 E Town St. is the best example on the street of this typical type common to Columbus (and much Italianate architecture). In this example, all the key details are intact, with filleted windows and doors with conforming stone lintels with incised Eastlake designs. The cornice features an architrave molding, double c scroll brackets, dentils, and entablature windows. Even the bay window to the side preserves an iron crest. In a sense, though not especially thrilling, it is the houses like these, nice but not spectacular, that work as a group to create a visual effect and serve to emphasize the more dramatic stylistic examples.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Francis Crum House, Columbus, OH

The Francis Crum House, Columbus, OH. 1850


The Francis Crum house stands next to the Snowden house on the east side of E Town Street. It was started in 1844 by another builder, but finished after a long delay by Francis Crum in 1850. The house is a three bay, side entrance plan house, with an additionally two bays added later, slightly recessed. This is a common form of extension for houses of this plan. The house shares some of the design features of the Snowden house, with round arched windows on the first floor and three point arched windows on the second. The surrounds are more abbreviated than the Snowden house, with hood moldings ending in foliate Gothic stops with a rococo cartouche in the center. The windows feature Venetian tracery. The cornice and entablature follow the bull's eye form, as next door, except here the windows are elliptical intersecting the panels. The brackets are especially elaborate, being a s scroll form attached to a rotated s curve design. Deeply carved acanthus leaves and finer carving on the brackets distinguish it from Snowden's. The cupola is very low, with strong brackets echoing the cornice, and rectangular windows with arched ends. Note how the cupola is centered on the original three bays rather than taking account of the addition. Unfortunately, the house has experienced some mutilation, with the front door replaced by a colonial revival form and the first floor of the side wing obliterated with a columned, glass picture window. Both these changes are probably from the 1910s-20s. 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Philip T. Snowden House, Columbus OH

The Philip Snowden House, Columbus, OH. 1850


The Philip Snowden house is one of the premier homes left in Columbus' East Town Street district, an area of the city which was the wealthy district in the early 19th century. Snowden was a textile importer and built this house in 1850, though he only held onto it for a decade before he went bankrupt. The house is currently owned by the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. It follows a pavilion style plan, with shallow projective pavilions connected by a recessed pavilion with porch. It is the detailing of the house which is exceptional. All the windows of the house are round arched, with heavy stone surrounds. Each surround begins at the base with a curved ear in a Renaissance style, arising from stylized foliage. This transforms as one ascends to an engaged column supporting a capital of Gothic style foliage. The arch has a thick exterior molding with a toothed/arched design (very Romanesque); the keystone is established by a rococo cartouche. This juggling of styles in the 19th century is especially emphatic here. On the first floor, each window has a paneled apron. The porch is made of three arches and is an exceptionally lacy piece of ironwork resting on thin, stylized Corinthian columns with classical rinceaux in the spandrels. An image from the late 19th century shows a different porch, one which is far less delicate and much clunkier. To me, that certainly looks like a later development as well as it seems to ignore the entire rhythm of the façade and the paired windows.

From History of Columbus.
The door has a pilastered surround. The whole is topped by a cornice structure of the bulls eye type with the bulls eye window inset between rather elaborate panels beneath a row of dentils. The brackets alternate between smaller s scroll brackets and longer double s scroll brackets at emphatic points. Each pavilion is topped by an engaged round pediment (also bracketed) with a rococo foliage and shell element at the apex. The crowning touch to the house is its fine cupola, one of the most attractive of which I know, with a run of four arched windows, and paired brackets (from the picture once also repeated on the lower half) and a dramatic curved tent roof with a thick finial. One of the most impressive houses of its kind, I must say that its degree of finish and preservation make it one of my favorites.