Sunday, June 16, 2013

56 Dwight Street, New Haven, CT

56 Dwight Street, New Haven, CT. 1862

This house is one of the lesser known Italianate villas in New Haven, but it is a real gem. The neighborhood it once belonged to was destroyed in the mid 20th century for a highway that was never finished, leaving it stranded. The house follows the symmetrical plan with a projecting center bay topped by a pediment which, strangely, is enclosed and paneled rather than open. The house is constructed of wood with filleted corners on the verge boards. It has a hip roof and cupola, pictured below, with a simple cornice of architrave, an empty frieze on the front (it is pierced by windows on the sides), and very plain brackets. The actual cornice has less of a dramatic appearance because of the paint scheme on the house that seems to ignore the function paint fills by articulating architectural elements. The real fascination with this house are the windows on the front of the facade, all of which have almost oversized brackets featuring bead molding and voussoirs, or keystones, atop the window frame.The first floor windows are topped with a delightfully uncommon broken ogee (or swan neck) pediments that have a carved palmette at the center. The space inside the pediment is paneled with a shape that follows the pediment's curve (these filled in pediments are strange!). The second floor windows have open round pediments with again a carved palmette at the center. The center window on the second floor is triple, a common treatment of the central window on symmetrical houses, but the curved pediment only appears on the center part of the window. Also the central window lacks the voussoirs and has paneling in their place. The front door was once surrounded by a curved glass transom and sidelights, but these have been filled in. The bracketed porch is held up by pairs of Ionic columns. The house strongly resembles the Perit house in its door and porch. Indeed, 56 Dwight is in some ways a zanier copy of the sober Hillhouse example. The sides of the house are plainer, enlived by bay and occasional round headed windows, and express the house's three stories more. The house is currently owned by a nearby church. I really wish it were repainted...nothing can damage a good house like dull paint!

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