Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Charles F. Loomis House, Suffield, CT

The Charles F. Loomis House, Suffield, CT. 1862


The Charles F. Loomis house is the last house I will examine in this set. Again it was built by one of the Loomises in 1862, but instead of following his relative's symmetrical and almost Moorish designs, Charles chose to build in the irregular plan. The house doesn't appear irregular from a frontal viewing from the street; the expected façade is turned toward the left on the lot, and the entrance has been altered so that it faces the street rather than the left side as the plan dictates. Also odd is that the recessed façade is incredibly short, only one bay wide, instead of extending further than the projecting façade. Because it is so short, the porch wraps around the tower rather than extending along the recessed façade. Thus the house has a very strong vertical thrust. The façade is clapboarded, but the tower façade includes elaborate strapwork, or boards applied to a façade in a pattern, which resembles Medieval half timbering. This type of Medieval decoration was characteristic of the contemporary Gothic Revival and Swiss Chalet styles. The gables also reflect a Gothic or Swiss influence in their use of barge boards, or boards that are applied to a gable and extend it.

Besides these features much of the main body of the house is simply decorated. The window treatments are varied between segmental arched windows (including a tripartite segmental arched window on the street façade), round, tombstone, bay, and round headed windows. The street façade is given some importance by the wooden awning and balcony on the first floor. The door features a glass surround that we have seen on several houses with etched panels that seem to be intact. The tower is interestingly composed. Each stage is carefully defined; the second and third floors have a small roof that leads to a slenderer second stage. The third floor is topped with an eave with dentils, and the fourth floor has a wide eave with a steep tent roof topped by an iron cresting. This tower has a very pagoda like effect with the defined floors and tapering shape. The strapwork is employed to articulate each façade separately while providing a decorative continuity. Although it lacks the grand siting of the George Loomis House, the Charles Loomis house definitely makes a dramatic statement.

Looking at these three houses built by the same family in a relatively short period of time, we can see what it took to express wealth around 1860 in Suffield. Grand exotic touches, imposing siting and massing, and individuality of style allowed this family to both express itself in a similarly exotic idiom while maintaining an independence from each other. Some families built identical houses as their other relatives or even connected houses, but the Loomises insisted on each one doing their own thing with their design. It has certainly given Suffield a grand architectural legacy.






3 comments:

  1. how about showing some interior colors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I could find some good public domain pictures, I would!

      Delete
  2. I grew up in this house from 1969 to about 1980. I know this interior intimately!!

    ReplyDelete