Monday, June 17, 2013

The A. L. Scott House, Petersburg, VA

The A. L. Scott House, Petersburg, VA. 1858 Photo: Wikimedia 
The next few posts will be looking at Italianate house in Petersburg, Virginia. Petersburg, despite a bevy of economic problems, was a major manufacturing center before the Civil War and maintained its prosperity into the 20th century. South Market Street, which is a registered historic neighborhood, was one of the city's most fashionable addresses from the 1840s to the 1900s. Many Italianate homes were built on the street, although it seems the most impressive have been demolished. The Scott house is one of the grandest survivors.

This house, built according to its NRHP nomination in 1858 for A. L. Scott, a clothing merchant, displays an arrangement of windows that seemed particularly popular in this area and might represent a type of Petersburg vernacular. The arrangement consists of paired round headed windows on the flanking bays of the first floor and in the central bay of the second floor with segmental arched windows on the flanking bays of the second floor. The arrangement creates a triangle of double round arched windows on the facade. It was once more prevalent, since a mirror of this house was constructed across the street. The house is of the symmetrical plan with a hip roof and cupola that has pilasters and tombstone windows. It is faced with stucco but has wooden details, except for a brownstone belt course between the first and second floors. The window surrounds are wood, and consist of simple eared moldings with carved keystones. Two interesting aspects of the windows are that there is an oval panel inserted in the center of the double windows, and the segmental arched windows have a blind balcony beneath them. The paired windows on the first floor also have connecting balconies.

The cornice is paneled and is almost Anglo-Italianate with its thickly placed brackets. On the sides of the house, windows are placed in the paneled frieze. We have often seen that the sides of the house are more likely to include frieze windows, perhaps because on the front an unpierced frieze looks more monolithic and impressive. The porch echoes the simplicity of the cornice with wooden paneled columns and a simple cornice. A truly outstanding feature is the oriole window on the left facade, which, though not unprecedented, is a real rarity. It is delicately composed with segmental arched windows, panels, and a bracketed cornice. It is strangely the only window on that facade. Perhaps the neighboring house was too close; often in urban settings there will be less windows on a wall that is very near to someone else's house. Other goodies include a lot of the original ironwork, a carriage house, and a surviving heated outhouse. Outbuildings, when they survive, are always an important aspect for any Italianate house in understanding its original relationship with the property. The house is well takencare of and is currently the La Villa Romaine Bed and Breakfast. Their website includes some interior images.

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