Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Oliver Ames Jr. House, Easton, MA

The Oliver Ames Jr. House, Easton, MA. 1862 Photo: Joel Abroad
The Ames house in Easton, MA, was built by Oliver Ames Jr. a member of a prominent local family who owned a shovel factory and was involved in the Union Pacific Railroad. It was designed by George Snell, an English architect who opened a firm in Boston in 1850. The house is clapboarded with wooden corner quoins and follows the symmetrical plan. It certainly reflects Ames' family stature in Easton. The house has several fancy features. On the first floor, the window hood moldings are typical bracket and cornice types; a wooden belt course separates the first and second floors. On the second floor, the windows are segmental arched with brackets, pediments, and carved doodads inside the pediments (people loved their carved doodads). One odd aspect is the tiny sills on the windows, which look almost comically undersized. The main porch is very deep with square columns with chamfered corners. It looks like it could be a port cochere. The central window on the front and side facades are double tombstone windows with a fantastic curving pediment over them that curves from the corners to a point. This shape almost looks Eastern European baroque, but can be found in Italianate houses, even though it's decidedly un-Italian. The cornice has paired brackets and is simple, with a thick architrave board and a panel, making it a paneled cornice. A central pediment breaks the cornice and has a small fanlight window.

A neat feature of the house is how the side facade is so well finished. It has a projecting central bay that echoes the central bay on the front (except it has a bay window). The stunning feature of the house is the cupola. The cupola has brackets and inverted brackets at the corners, giving it a flowing, almost exotic, look. Elaborate carvings top the triple arched windows. The hip roof curves up to an attachment at the center which serves as the base for the finial. It has pediments on four sides. This looks a bit pagoda like, since the roof moves up in stages. It's a wonderful cupola that rounds of an interesting house. Images of the lovely interior can be found here.

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