Saturday, April 27, 2013

The George B. Sloan House, Oswego, NY

The George Sloan House in Oswego, 1866-1870. Principal façade (south).
The east façade.
 The west façade.
Today I am featuring the George B. Sloan House in Oswego. The house sits on a large piece of property and was built by one of Oswego's most notable citizens between 1866 and 1870. The pictures above display the three principal facades of the house, although trees, the bugbear of architectural photography, obscure some elements (argh!). The house's main street façade is the southern façade, which gives the impression that it follows the gable plan with an attached tower, but if you look at the eastern façade, you can see it is actually employing the side tower façade as we saw in the Norton house in New Haven. Unlike the Norton house, the orientation of the Sloan house does not feature the side tower façade as its principal entrance but focuses on the left side as the principal one. The center section is also not highly recessed as we saw in the Norton house, but who doesn't alter a plan a bit when building their own house? The massive projecting section attached to the right hand of the side tower plan also is a significant alteration. This historic photograph from a 1906 publication, Oswego Yesterday and Today, depicts the Sloan house as it looked at the beginning of the 20th century.
The house for being a creation of the 1860s and 70s is far more sedate than the Richardson-Bates house. The use of Ithaca limestone as the facing particularly gives it a powerful and monolithic appearance and the windows are deemphasized by a lack of dramatic surrounds or moldings. The brackets and cornice are spare, although the wood strips give the impression of a plain entablature. The deployment of brackets on the house is as spare as the cornice, only placing them in pairs at long intervals and for the support of the horizontal eaves beneath the gables. Still, the house has some interesting features that liven up the façade. The porch, not overly dramatic, employs the broken arch form of the 1870s that we saw in the Richardson-Bates house's balcony, and the door on the eastern façade has a delicate wooden awning with a tent roof. The Juliette balconies in the tower are a notable feature that add some horizontal emphasis on the top level. The west façade features a particularly large, glassed in conservatory. The stone laying itself is of interest as large blocks alternate with two thin blocks that cover the same space as a larger block; this gives the stonework the feel of being irregular fieldstone. The eastern façade features an elaborate two story bay window with deeply recessed panels. The principal entrance is in the tower's base. The following pictures show a few of the details.
The entrance on the eastern façade with awning. You might wonder why the roofs are painted red. Although I am not sure about this house's original coloration, Italianates often did not just employ grey slate as their finish, but used red tiles, blue slate, or even green slate. Tent roofs were particularly painted interesting colors. Historically, many were painted to look like striped canvas awnings.

A better view of the west façade showing the rear porch which is simpler in composition than the principal porch.

The house has much of its garden art and iron fencing intact, including its monogrammed posts.

The house also features an exuberant stick style carriage house/barn.

All in all the Sloan house is a fine example of Italianate, even with its quirky arrangement and conservative detailing.


  1. Coincidentally, this home has recently been put on the market:

    An amazing price of $379K, considering the size and location.

  2. Thanks for commenting! I love real estate listings because they give you some interior photos and tell you a bit more about the house.

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