Monday, April 29, 2013

The Egbert Bagg House, Utica, NY

The Bagg House, 4 Rutger Park, Utica, NY. 1854
Continuing my focus on Rutger Park and its homes, I turn move a couple plots down to the Bagg house. This house was built by Egbert Bagg in 1854. Apparently Bagg designed the house himself, which is not a surprise given he was an engineer and land surveyor. The plan may surprise you because it is missing an important element. It is a side towered villa like the Sloan house in Oswego and New Haven's Norton house. You might ask, where did the tower go? The house seems not to have been built with one. It is often the case that Davis and Downing's plans were used but elements were omitted whether because of cost or taste. It's very common to see even irregular villas constructed without their towers. Italianate is an adaptable style, and it is always up to the builder to construct a house that suits their client's aesthetic and pocketbook.

The house has other eccentricities besides its missing tower. To tell you the truth, I am not completely sure how much it differed from its current state when it was completed. The elements of the side tower plan are there: the thin tower base, the long recessed center, and the projecting end pavilion. The center section, however, features instead of a loggia a bay window. This bay window does look like it might be original to the house a might have been included to accommodate a parlor or library offering a scenic view of the park. The expected loggia has been translated to a tent roof verandah on the end pavilion and a wooden awning over a double window on the tower base. The current entrance is on the right side at the end of a long verandah, the style of which seems to be later to me; perhaps it is an addition of the 1860s or 70s. The entrance could have been moved there at that time. The original entrance way have been from the verandah to the left into the room with the bay window. I'm really not sure, but it's always fun to play architectural detective. I certainly think the open loggia on the third story above the center is later. Its form suggests the Colonial Revival of the 1880s or 90s. What really makes me think it is a later addition is the way the center section's roof and walls are sagging, perhaps from supporting the balcony's weight on a part of the structure that wasn't built to bear that load. The placement of a chimney as well directly in the center of the façade seems unlike other Italianate precedents.

The house appears to have been well restored by its owners. The original porches and awnings seem intact, and the color choice is very period appropriate. The window surrounds are suitably simple for a house of the 1850s as are the brackets which echo the treatment in the Munn house. The façade appears to be painted brick, though stucco would have been more period appropriate; the effect however is not lessened by the visible brick at all. All in all the Bagg house is a fascinating puzzle.

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