Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Lewis W. Hasselman House, Indianapolis, IN

The Lewis W. Hasselman House, Indianapolis, IN. 1865
The above photos are from the publications Indianapolis Illustrated
and Art Works of Indianapolis.
The Lewis W. Hasselman house stood on Indianapolis' fashionable North Meridian Street until the 1920s when it was razed for the Indianapolis Athletic Club. The house was built in the 1865 for Hasselman, a manufacturer of steam engines and mill parts. The designer was Francis Costigan, basically Indiana's answer to Connecticut's Henry Austin, whose Lanier house is probably one of the country's best Greek Revivals. This is one of his only Italianate designs and is a showstopper. It is a symmetrical plan house, although the flanking bays have protruding two story bay windows, a very grand statement indeed. It was faced in limestone. The house has a variety of unique features that made it an important example of Italianate. The first floor features an impressive door surround with Corinthian columns and a pediment that is broken around the arch of the door frame, hearkening back to Georgian design. The triangular pediment is broken is the center by a curve, an interesting reinterpretation of a traditional form. The flanking bay windows, as all the windows on the house are arched with thick hood moldings enriched with carved foliage. The central window on the bay has Venetian tracery, but the space that would have featured the circular element has been filled with carving, as have the areas beneath the window. The hood molding on the central window of the first floor bays has a swoop of molding that comes to a carved finial, a reminiscence of Gothic architecture. This window design is repeated in the central window above the door. This level of carving is similar to the work on the Backus house and must have been a statement of the owner's wealth and ability to afford such expensive rococo carvings.

Although the second story windows are plainer, an interesting profusion of brackets underlie their sills. The third floor is where things get really strange, with pairs or round windows that are connected by carved rosettes and have ribbons and strapwork extending from the sides. This feature is particularly unique to this house and shows a real originality in design. It almost looks like fancy portholes on a yacht. The cornice is not particularly complex, but the same richness of carving adorns it; the brackets feature carved garlands, s curves, and incised designs. The originality of the design continues to the octagonal cupola, which repeats the cornice stylings and seems to have windows with angled tops. The whole is capped by a finial that resembles an acorn. In every way, the Hasselman house exemplifies high style Italianate design that was not Anglo-Italianate but American in inspiration. It is similar to some of the zany and experimental designs found in Detroit's lost mansions. The style of this house seems to be related to another Costigan work, the Odd Fellows' Building in Indianapolis with its ornate carved detailing and bay windows. An Italiante carriage house can be seen in the background. A lovely work, it's a shame this house is gone.

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