Thursday, February 11, 2016

The William Tallman House, Janesville, WI

The Wm. Tallman House, Janesville, WI. 1857 Photo: Wikimedia
Photo: Cliff
Janesville, WI is a nice historic town with a great collection of Italianate homes. The most famous of these is the William Tallman house, currently a museum. Constructed in 1857 for William Tallman, a lawyer, and once had Abraham Lincoln as a guest. The house is imposing, partially because of its tall third floor divided between the wall and the cornice; it follows the symmetrical plan. The house, like many in Wisconsin, is faced with yellow/cream brick which is augmented by sandstone quoins at the corners. An interesting feature of this house is the work on the windows and details. The first floor has flat windows with deep, cast-iron brackets and moldings with vegetal fluff on top. The second floor has arched windows with Venetian tracery and iron drip moldings enlivened by leaf garlands. Additionally, the deep porch is beautifully carved with rococo foliage and rests on impossibly slender Corinthian/Indian candelabra columns; it also retains its balcony railing. The front door itself is interesting. It uses a traditional Federal design with a fanlight, but the fan is articulated with Goth trefoil tracery with further carving on the spandrels and moldings.

Especially impressive is the box window/conservatory on the left facade. The windows on this have a particularly Moorish flavor, with Venetian tracery that is further divided into a nine-foil design set inside horseshoe arches with elaborate Arabesque strapwork. We have looked at some houses with Moorish designs confined mostly to the Northeast; this is the most western house that displays this stylistic syncretism. The house is finished in the round; even the back porch is decorated with Greek palmettes. The cornice is paneled with chamfered panels and paired octagonal windows. The brackets are of the s and c scroll type and the whole is topped by a cupola with narrow grouped arched windows and a fantastic bulbous finial. This house is an exercise in eclecticism. In looking at its combination of Moorish, Gothic, Greek, and Rococo, it's apparent that the designer was interested in using the Tallman's money to express wealth through stylistic exuberance. Some views of the interior can be seen here. The photos below show more details and were taken by Cliff.

This photo: Wikimedia

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

'Two Rivers' the David McGavock House, Nashville, TN

'Two Rivers', Nashville, TN. 1859 Photo: Brent Moore
Photo: Wikimedia
If this plantation, built in 1859 for the very wealthy McGavock family could have something elaborate, it does. In fact, it's a surprisingly urban design one might see in a wealthy city rather than in the countryside, which testifies to the taste and wealth of the family. It was eventually sold to the city which built a golf course around it. The house has a symmetrical plan, but the facade is far more elongated than the typical symmetrical box, somewhat dwarfing the windows in a sea of brick. The house creates rhythm and emphasis by defining the side bays with paneled brick pilasters and causing the central bay to project through its heavy, elaborate porches. As usual, the central bay differs from the side bays. The sides have rectangular windows topped by flat hood moldings with swirling rococo foliage. The central window is a segmentally arched with Venetian tracery that has not two but three windows contained within it, an uncommon design. This is topped by a drip molding. The central door is recessed and flanked by arched windows.

The porches run across the facade on the first floor and the central bay on the second, creating that all important central emphasis on a symmetrical house. In that, this house has some affinity with the New Orleans Porch Facade type. The thick paneled pilasters create filleted rectangular openings which feature brackets with carved acanthus leaves, raised diamond panels, and rosettes, no doubt reproduced carefully from a Greek Revival pattern book. The balusters are a Renaissance type, another indication of wealth (turned balusters cost money, especially that many). The cornice is paneled, with variations of s scroll acanthus leaf brackets and simple s scroll designs that are paired on the main facade. The central section is topped by a boxy paneled attic with a few carved moldings and vegetable accents. The cornice wraps around the entire house, but the facade treatment is not repeated on the sides which have a simpler design. HABS documented the house and provided the interior views and plans seen below.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

'Oaklands' the Lewis Maney House, Murfreesboro, TN

'Oaklands' Murfreesboro, TN. 1860 Photos: Brent Moore

Although I put a date on this house of 1860, I might have equally put 1820 or 1830. Like many plantation houses, Oaklands started life as a small two room house that accrued additions, ells, and wings. When Dr. Maney built his original home, he was in effect a settler, but after his wife died and he retired, his son Lewis took control of the home. Lewis added the Italianate facade in 1860, designed by local architect Richard Sanders, turning the old settler's home into a fashionable mansion, even if the Italianate design was more of a false front hiding a complex past. After the Civil War, the Maneys struggled to hold on with dwindling finances and eventually sold Oaklands to a string of owners. It was abandoned, vandalized, and threatened in the 1950s, but was bought and restored; it is now a house museum.

The house is a five bay plan with a strongly projecting central pavilion, The windows are rectangular with simple flat hood moldings crowned with elaborate rococo flowers and vines. The central window is arched with thick Venetian tracery, so common in other Italianates in Tennessee. The simple cornice has s scroll brackets. What really distinguishes this house is its impressive porch which spans beyond the entire front of the facade. It's a simple Italianate porch with an interesting rhythm of square pillars and arched sections with brackets. As part of the illusory nature of the redesign, from a purely frontal view it looks like it wraps around the entire house, but when one looks from a side view, the porch's dimensions seem rather ridiculous and the design's illusion becomes clear, especially against the earlier 19th century side facades. HABS documented the building in the 1930s before it was vandalized, including several interior views, below.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Joseph B. Palmer House, Murfreesboro, TN

Joseph Palmer House, Murfreesboro, TN. 1869 Photo: Brent Moore
Photo: Wikimedia
The Joseph B. Palmer house was built in 1869 in Murfreesboro, TN by a retired Civil War general who served in several major battles. It bears a great deal of similarity to the Craigmiles house nearby in Cleveland, with which it is a near contemporary. Perhaps the Craigmiles house influenced the Palmer house's design. His house is an irregular plan Italianate that takes much of its force from its massing complemented by interesting details. While it follows the standard profile of an irregular plan house, it emphasizes its projecting pavilion with an extra level to its projection and also lacks a central tower, making it far more horizontal than vertical. The first floor windows are relatively simple, segmental arched elements with a limited amount of decoration. The second floor windows, however, are all round arched, and two have thick Venetian tracery (it's usually much more nimble). They are all topped by strong drip moldings that feature central cartouches and end in rococo designs. The ironwork, a southern specialty is decisively delicate, with very thin Renaissance and Gothic designs combined with Greek vegetal motifs. The cornice is extremely compact, featuring very tight double s scroll brackets that break into a run of dentils. Except for the flimsy ironwork, this house suggests masculinity in its understated and sober composition.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Stephen H. Farnam House, Oneida, NY

The Stephen Farnam House, Oneida, NY. 1862 Photo: Doug Kerr

Photo: Carol
The Stephen Farnam house is well documented and perhaps one of the most impressive homes on Oneida's Main Street. The builder (1862), Stephen Farnam was a hardware store owner, bank president, and axe manufacturer. Subsequent owners included a suffragette and a botanist. The house seems to currently be a Dark Shadows themed bed-and-breakfast called Collinwood Inn, a fine use for a house like this. It seems the alleged haunting of the house has helped it as a business. As an architectural specimen, though, the house doesn't need any ghosts to make it worth exploring. The house follows the irregular plan, one of the fancier designs, though unlike other examples, the tower juts forth to be almost flush with the left hand projecting pavilion, which has a very shallow roof slope. The house has brick walls and excellent Oneida woodwork. The windows are mostly rectangular, though it looks like they were all segmental arched once, with simple open triangular pediments and keystones with Eastlake incised carving. The simple paneled cornice features s scroll brackets.

It's the dominance of the shouldered, pointed arch that makes this house interesting, as if the builder fetishized that shape and fit in in to give the composition unity. A shouldered arch is an arch where the curve of the arch is interrupted by a vertical projection; in this case that projection is pointed. It's a fascinating shape since it combines curves and straight angles together. The porch has rectangular openings but features the shouldered arch running inside these openings with jigsaw cut-outs, similar to the porch down the street at the Shoecraft house. The same shape unifies the triple arched windows at the top of the tower and is repeated again in the base of the tower cornice. Commendable in this house as well is the retention of both the concave roofs on the porch, bay windows, and tower along with the delicate crestings. Hopefully the house will have a nice long life.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Walrath House, Oneida, NY

The Walrath House, Oneida, NY. 1866 Photo: Doug Kerr
Photo: Carol
The Walrath house, 1866, at 410 Main St. seems to have been a generational home for the Walrath clan, a family that includes civil servants and businessmen. This home is next to the Berry House posted previously. The house is a symmetrical plan villa with a brick facade and displays the fine woodwork that seems to be a vernacular characteristic of mid-19th century Oneida. I might say though, people in this town could try other colors besides white; there are so many more possibilities! The central bay projects (Oneida architects love the centralized emphasis) and features rectangular windows with stately pedimented and flat molding window surrounds. The central bay, however, contains some surprises. First off, on the second story there is a pair of tombstone windows, but surprisingly, they are segmental arched rather than round headed, causing the hood molded to intersect a little oddly. The porch itself is a tour de force of design with three arched bays that follow the triple arched palladian design, yet the central bay is unsupported by anything, with the arches terminating in rich finials. The lack of supports no doubt explains some of the sagging going on. The porch brackets themselves are a unique shape with a large c scroll with a smaller c scroll inside, making them look like claws. The cornice itself is paneled with inset windows that have an overlay with a very cool shouldered square (a shape where the corners of a square are rounded and there are rectangular protuberances at each long angle of the square). The brackets are of the s and c scroll type with strapwork. Perhaps what I like the most is the octagonal cupola, always an exciting change of pace. Here it has paired tombstone windows with a full cornice and brackets to match. Interior views can be seen here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The George Berry House, Oneida, NY

The George Berry House, Oneida, NY. 1860 Photo: Carol
From: History of Chenango and Madison Counties
Built by George Berry, a significant legislator and businessman in Oneida, around 1860 and later home of Manford J. Dewey businessman, this house remains a grand addition to Oneida at 416 Main Street. Looking at the older illustration below, it seems the house has been shorn of its grand tent-roof cupola as well as the anthemion over the pediment, but for the most part it remains intact although in some disrepair. The house is a five bay plan and includes a strong projection in the center that forms a central emphasis. This house displays some high quality woodwork throughout. Over the windows, there are engaged, arched pediments (engaged means they don't go to the edge of the flat molding) resting on brackets. Beneath the hood molding is a series of wooden fringes that hang down providing some fun detail. The porch is typical Italianate with filleted corners, but above there is a charmingly small bay window with arched windows that is bracketed, pilastered, and topped by a tent roof. The cornice as well is of the bull's eye type with panels centered on circular windows and filled with cut-out strapwork. Along the base of the string molding is a series of leaves that form a little fringe. The brackets are of the double s scroll type with larger and smaller members. It seems unfortunately from this real estate listing that the missing decoration of the left hand cornice was never restored and merely boarded up rather callously. At least they didn't remove it all, I have to give them that. In the right hands, with the cupola back, this could look like new!