Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Connell House, Ephrata, PA

The Connell House, Ephrata, PA. 1860 Photo: Wikimedia

Photo: Wikimedia
The Connell House, built in 1860 in Ephrata, PA is an excellent and elegant example of the five bay plan. The details are simple but make for an effective composition. The brackets are paired, and interestingly there are none directly at the corners. They hang below the architrave molding, elongating the cornice's effect. The window surrounds are simple being plain moldings that follow the curve of the segmental arched windows. The NRHP listing for the house cites the origins of the design in German and Georgian architecture of rural Pennsylvania, which may account for the simplicity of the door surround and porch, which have the feel of vernacular forms. The porch runs across the entire front facade, which, though not odd, has the effect of giving the house a more horizontal emphasis than a simple one bay porch would. An added bonus to the house is the presence of shutters, once ubiquitous on Italianate homes, but rarely seen today. The real star feature of the house, however, is the fantastic octagonal cupola on the hip roof. The octagonal shape does occur in Italianate architecture, but it is a rarity and always makes a splash. Octagonal towers, cupolas, even house shapes were popular in this period thanks to the inventiveness of Orson Squire Fowler, who popularized the octagon shape as being healthful and conductive to air circulation. The cupola has segmental arched windows, pilasters, and a toothed fringe covering the cornice. Though fringes are often employed on Italianates, they are not usually toothed on the edges, and this must be the result of the German craftsmen in the area. The whole is topped by a daring tent roof.

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