Monday, May 27, 2013

123/125 Mulberry Street, Springfield, MA

123/125 Mulberry St. Springfield, MA. 1850s?


This house on Mulberry Street in Springfield is part of a recognized historic neighborhood. A block away from Union Street, this house is also part of the constructions by wealthy people near Maple Avenue. The house follows the symmetrical plan, but lacks a cupola. The house features double windows on the front fa├žade, with tombstone windows in the center bay on the second floor. What caught my eye on this house were the eared window surrounds, which simulate Greek Revival shallow pediments with corner anthemia, or palmettos. That shows that this house must be an earlier example since it is transitional in its detailing from Greek Revival to Italianate. Of course, these examples here are highly stylized. Springfield's Italianates seem particularly plain and simple, and I wonder whether restraint was an important priority to the city's designers. There are windows wedged into the cornice as well for the third floor; the central one of these has an eared surround which might have topped the others.

The cornice is simple and features a band of frieze molding and rather large dentils. The columns on the porch are an unfortunate replacement and look to be Colonial Revival, from the 1890s or so. They do seem silly supporting such a heavy entablature; originally they were probably thick square columns with chamfered edges. The original doors with arched windows seem to still be in place, a nice feature. Since the central second story tombstone windows are elongated, I would guess the porch originally had a balcony on top, a good restoration project for the owners. The house also features a side porch which is visible on this site. This house's back view is on the Springfield Cemetery, a surprisingly well maintained place. While we might balk today at having a cemetery view, Victorians did not think much of looking at some graves. Cemeteries were conceived of as parks, were romantic, and pleasant places. People in the 19th century often held picnics at the cemetery! Agewise, I would say this house is probably from the 1850s or early 1860s because of the tombstone windows, the Greek Revival window surrounds, and the general detailing. It is definitely not from 1903, as the website says.

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