Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Byron Loomis House, Suffield, CT

The Byron Loomis House, Suffield, CT. 1850-1860?

Suffield is a beautiful Connecticut town in which a parade of grand 18th and 19th century homes are strung along the main street. One of the most important 19th century families in Suffield were the Loomises, a group of six brothers who made a fortune as tobacco merchants in Suffield; in the next three posts, I will be looking at three of the brothers' houses which were built in the Italianate style. The Byron Loomis house was constructed between 1850 and 1860; it follows the symmetrical plan with a cupola. The house has a variety of interesting features. First, it is sided entirely in flush boards, or boards laid without any overlap. This gives the wall a smooth surface reminiscent of plaster. Often flush board siding was characteristic of Greek Revival design, while plaster over brick was a more common Italianate variant. Second, is the two story porch in the center bay of the house. Another of the Loomis houses in Suffield also has this feature, as well as some houses in New Haven. The porch is architecturally complex; the first stage features thick square, chamfered cornered columns with an open segmented arch. The second stage also has square columns with chamfers and a lattice. Both stages are bracketed.

Other interesting aspects are the hood moldings which feature small tent-roof projections, which reminds me of the Fisher house in New Haven, and the brackets that jut to the cornice and fill the entire frieze of the entablature. While the porch features only brackets at the corners, the rest of the house has a constant run of brackets. Although it is not by him, the house bears a strong resemblance to the architecture of New Haven designer Henry Austin. The cupola has segmental arched windows separated by pilasters, an elegant touch that makes it appear more open than enclosed. Overall, the house has a somewhat exotic air, especially with the construction of the porch. The lattice reminds me of Moorish designs, which can sometimes be seen on Connecticut Italianates.


  1. I am continually impressed at how well these flush-boarded houses have stood up to 150 years or more of New England moisture. It's evidence of how well the builder selected his wood. I'd wager that the siding is all quarter-sawn, which stacks the growth-rings vertically on the wall and lessens the cupping that happens when plain-sawn boards get damp on one side.

  2. My Grandmother's cousin Kate Loomis(d.1932) and her husband Neland lived in this house in Suffield, and I have an old photograph of it dating back to that time. Are there any examples of floor plans of these beautiful old houses?

    1. That's fantastic to hear you know someone who lived here. I don't know of any plans for these houses on record (you might check with the Suffield town office) but Italianat plans are often not too inventive or complex with four main rooms on the first floor flanking a central hall and a staircase, which can go a few different places.