Friday, May 10, 2013

The Charles Brearley House, Trenton, NJ

The Charles Brearley House, Trenton, NJ. 1855 Photo: Wikimedia

Photo: National Parks Service
The Brearley house is a fine Italianate in Trenton, NJ, a city with many architectural treasures that are in need of upkeep. Fortunately this house is well taken care of. It was built in 1855 for Charles Brearley, the president of Greenwood Pottery. His widow later sold the house to the Catholic diocese, and today it serves as the headquarters of the Mt. Carmel Guild, a charitable organization who maintains the property. The house is also fortunate to be well recorded photographically by the National Parks Service.

The house is a three story symmetrical plan villa with a very shallow hip roof. Interestingly, the full third story is unusual for this type of home, and the house appears much taller than other symmetrical homes. The house is cube like, with simple porches featuring trefoil arches on both sides of the house. The fa├žade is stuccoed but not scored. The front of the house features paired windows on the first two stories; the first floor has flat top windows with a common pediment joining them, while the second story has paired tombstone windows that have eared surrounding moldings. The third story is differentiated from the other two by a belt course with fringed drops and triple arched windows. This gives the house a Romanesque appearance, a style which is often alluded to in Italianate houses, especially earlier ones. The triple windows simulate the arcades of Romanesque, and the fringe recalls the drops seen on Romanesque buildings. The cornice mimics the belt course, being part of the fringe type with longer defining brackets clustered at the corners and around the third story windows. The central pedimented section projects and sparsely decorated pilasters define the corners of the central projection and the bays. The door is particularly fine; it is surrounded by a thick arch with brownstone carved panels inset into the frame. The panels and the capitals of the pilasters all feature the same floral motifs.

The picture above from NPS shows that the sides carry the same decorative treatment although the bay windows over the porch in the rear look like additions from the 1880s or 90s. The interiors as well seem to have been redecorated around this time, featuring aesthetic movement and Renaissance revival trim and designs. The pictures below, from the NPS, show the interior and some details.

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