Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The John Kellogg House, Amsterdam, NY


The John Kellogg House, 47 Church St. Amsterdam, NY. 1858
Amsterdam, NY is a town with a fascinating city hall, the Sanford mansion. The Sanford mansion is a Victorian house, probably once a Second Empire structure, that has been remodeled and expanded into a massive Georgian/Beaux Arts home for the city's government. Next door to the Sanford mansion, however, is the no-less interesting Kellogg House. The Kellogg house was built in 1858 for John Kellogg, a mill owner in Amsterdam. The house is a symmetrical Italianate villa; like the Fisher house in New Haven, each façade has a central projection surmounted by a gable that breaks the cornice line. The Kellogg house has thick-set brackets that impart a level of heaviness to the cornice, a feature that is currently emphasized by the dark paint scheme which reproduces a likely historical effect. It is odd, however, that only five pairs of brackets are employed on the side facades; perhaps it was a money-saving measure (many oddities in Victorian architecture are attributable to cost cutting). In fact the side facades are treated quite differently than the principal, being simpler with fewer windows. The cube-like effect of the façade is relieved by the tent roof awnings with fringed cut-out borders, a monumental Corinthian porch, a five section bay window that projects from the western façade, and heavy hood moldings atop the windows. The paired 'tombstone windows' as well add interest, as does the Venetian tracery in the central front window. This type of tracery was particularly associated with Renaissance architecture.

Perhaps one of this house's most interesting features is the way the architect laid the bricks (the house is finished with painted brick) so as to form blind arches in each bay of the façade. This treatment, reminiscent of the slightly later Panel Brick style creates a series of pilasters and arches that articulate the wall surface. The arches are of the flat topped trefoil arch, a shape more commonly found in the 60s and 70s. I particularly was struck by the way the blind arches in the center of each façade bend upward to match the slope of the gable, giving the house an almost Gothic flavor. Also interesting is the roof and cupola. The roof is a very steeply pitched hip roof; in fact it is so steep it might qualify as a mansard (indeed it might be a later addition). It is steep enough to allow squat dormers with massive scrolls. The roof is topped with an octagonal cupola with a shallow pointed roof, which, although not unprecedented, is far less common that the typical square cupola. After being owned by a law firm for many years, the house has been recently restored, and a real estate website has several good pictures of the home's beautiful interiors. The parlor is particularly impressive with its ceiling murals and massive rococo pier mirror.

 The cupola.

This interesting barn/carriage house seems to be attached to this property, although I am not completely sure. At any rate it's an intriguing shape and looks like it could use some work!

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