Tuesday, May 7, 2013

159 Lancaster Street, Albany, NY

159 Lancaster, Albany, NY. 1864
Here I present the typical Albany Italianate row house that I referred to in my last post. This row house can be found at 159 Lancaster Street was built in 1864 according to a plaque on the house. In the 1890s, it was occupied by William Ryder, a contractor responsible for the two Queen Ann houses next door on Dove Street, according to the guide Albany Architecture. Ryder was an important builder in Albany during the 80s and 90s. It utilizes the row house plan which comprises three bays and an off center doorway. Typically these houses in their grander manifestations are three stories, though this is not a requirement.  This house is faced with brick and includes the features I said comprise the style of row house in Albany: the box window over the door (which is a particularly upstate New York Italianate feature), elaborate sculpted hood moldings, and a complex cornice and entablature.

The box window is one of the most readily apparent features of upstate New York's architecture. It is usually comprised of two large panes of glass on the front, and sometimes one on each side. This particular box window manifests Renaissance revival detail in its shallow rounded pediment. The date of the houses construction in the 60s is exemplified by the presence of sculpted pieces and incised Eastlake designs in the supporting brackets. The meander motif in the frieze adds a classical Neo-Grec touch. You can also see the hood moldings in this and the following image. They consist of a horizontal molding placed over a slightly curved window. The molding is broken by a tall intrusion that increases the height toward the center. Again carved pieces and incised designs are applied. Though these might be made of cast iron, they could just as well be wood. The cornice certainly appears to be wood to me, and the hood moldings might also, though I wasn't able to tap on any of them to see!

The cornice follows a pattern seen on many Albany cornices. The brackets alternate between long brackets that define the three bays and smaller brackets that fill in the intervening space. Below the brackets is a tall dentil molding. Where it gets interesting is the frieze. In this cornice, the frieze of each section consists of a molding that represents an arch, cut to look like a cable, a center key and raised panels in the spandrels of the arch and below it. The panels are cut with Eastlake designs. This 'arch' style frieze is one of a variety of patterns popular in Albany. This house, lacking windows in its entablature does not have to make allowances for their shape as others do. Later, I will probably do a post that tries to classify various Albany cornices, which really deserve their own terminology. Keep in mind that although Albany provides a good example, some of these characteristics are common to many upstate buildings. Further examples will highlight the similarity or difference between these various modes. For now though, suffice it to say you have been introduced to Albany.

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