Friday, May 31, 2013

The George W. Loomis House, Suffield, CT

The George W. Loomis House, Suffield, CT. 1860

The George W. Loomis house is the second of the Loomis houses I will be exploring. The house was built by one of the Loomis brothers for their son; in 1912 it became the rectory for St. Joseph's Church next door. The house follows the symmetrical plan with a hip roof and cupola. Despite being sided with what appears to be aluminum, the house preserves many of its fine features. Like the Byron Loomis house, this house also features a central two story porch, but this porch has a much more flamboyant treatment. The first stage is simple enough, with fluted columns, but there is no crowning cornice here. The columns rise to the second stage where they flare out with four pieced curving pieces that stick out on each side, looking like some gnarled tree trunk. The second story is crowned by a jigsawed ogee and wide eave. Because there is no intervening cornice line between the porch's two stages, the effect produced is of the first stage being the column and the second stage being the elongated almost Moorish capital. Other Italianates with Moorish treatments do this with their porches, and it might be the influence of Henry Austin's Indian style of ornament. Adding to the odd effect is the iron cresting that caps the wooden balustrade on the second stage of the porch.

The cornice is surprisingly large on this house, and the brackets are correspondingly elongated with finials that suggest the icicle effect of some Italianates. The windows in the frieze are segmentally arched, as are the windows on the first story at the front, but are currently serving as vents. Over the windows on the front façade on the second floor hang exterior lambrequins. These are wooden cut out pieces, in this case representing arches, that are applied to a rectangular window to alter its shape.
Another unique feature of this house is that two of the panes on the front of the cupola are stained, blue and orange respectively. This treatment is probably part of the original scheme in which all the windows of the cupola featured glass of different colors. It's impressive that these two pieces survive! The house has a dramatic siting on a small hill set back quite far from the main road. This gives the house a very commanding presence on the street and increases its visibility. The George Loomis house is calculated to create a grand and exotic effect which not even its current state of poor restoration can dim.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Byron Loomis House, Suffield, CT

The Byron Loomis House, Suffield, CT. 1850-1860?

Suffield is a beautiful Connecticut town in which a parade of grand 18th and 19th century homes are strung along the main street. One of the most important 19th century families in Suffield were the Loomises, a group of six brothers who made a fortune as tobacco merchants in Suffield; in the next three posts, I will be looking at three of the brothers' houses which were built in the Italianate style. The Byron Loomis house was constructed between 1850 and 1860; it follows the symmetrical plan with a cupola. The house has a variety of interesting features. First, it is sided entirely in flush boards, or boards laid without any overlap. This gives the wall a smooth surface reminiscent of plaster. Often flush board siding was characteristic of Greek Revival design, while plaster over brick was a more common Italianate variant. Second, is the two story porch in the center bay of the house. Another of the Loomis houses in Suffield also has this feature, as well as some houses in New Haven. The porch is architecturally complex; the first stage features thick square, chamfered cornered columns with an open segmented arch. The second stage also has square columns with chamfers and a lattice. Both stages are bracketed.

Other interesting aspects are the hood moldings which feature small tent-roof projections, which reminds me of the Fisher house in New Haven, and the brackets that jut to the cornice and fill the entire frieze of the entablature. While the porch features only brackets at the corners, the rest of the house has a constant run of brackets. Although it is not by him, the house bears a strong resemblance to the architecture of New Haven designer Henry Austin. The cupola has segmental arched windows separated by pilasters, an elegant touch that makes it appear more open than enclosed. Overall, the house has a somewhat exotic air, especially with the construction of the porch. The lattice reminds me of Moorish designs, which can sometimes be seen on Connecticut Italianates.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

70 Thompson Street, Springfield, MA

70 Thompson St. Springfield, MA. 1870s?

This house which stands at the corner of Thompson Street and Bay Street is in need of rehabilitation. I think it is a particularly lovely example that could be quite the eye catcher if restored well. Given that the surrounding restored homes are so lovely, I think this has a good chance of surviving. The house follows the side-hall plan with a hipped roof. The porch is quite lovely with its flat topped trefoil arches. The cornice is simple, as we have come to expect with Springfield, with paired brackets and large dentils (this city loves its dentils!). Greek Revival elements remain in this house; the sidelight and transom door is a Greek Revival/Federal form as are the shallow pediments atop the window surrounds. What impressed me about this house was the side facing Bay Street, a major thoroughfare. On a projecting bay, a two story box window breaks the simplicity of the design by jutting through the cornice with a curving roof that is topped with a rounded pediment. This type of dramatic play with architectural members, particularly that the pediment has long horizontal moldings on the sides, tells me this might be a house from the 1870s. Also noteworthy is the side porch which is recessed into the façade, which livens up the view from the main street. This house seems to have companions on Thompson Street.

At 52 Thompson is this house with an identical neighbor. The Greek revival window surrounds seem to be very similar (though they are eared), although the round arch porch might tell us that it is a bit older. This cornice features several small brackets rather than long pairs. Springfield seems to be a city of conservativism in design as exemplified in the houses I have posted.

One more thing, I just had to post this house on Thompson Street, although it is a Second Empire. It's just one of the coolest examples of the small mansarded cottage I have seen.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

101 Westminster St, Springfield, MA

101 Westminster St, Springfield, MA. 1880s?

This house on Westminster Street in Springfield is a part of the neighborhood along Bay Street that is experiencing some major rehabilitation. This house particularly caught my eye because of its period appropriate paint scheme of straw and green. The house follows the symmetrical plan, has a hipped roof with a large cupola that has a somewhat steeper pitched roof. The cornice is of the paneled type with paired brackets and dentils. The house features a porch that crosses the front façade,  with a simple decorative motif and elongated brackets. The bay windows on the side look like they are later additions, probably from the 1890s or early 1900s. I do not know this house's age, as I don't know the age of many of the homes in Springfield. Unfortunately, every house isn't labeled with a plaque with information. Real estate listings (the house was rehabilitated beautifully and auctioned in 2011) say it was built in 1901, but that is far too late for a building of this type. The simplicity of much of the decoration, the fact it lies in a primarily Queen Ann neighborhood, and the Queen Ann front door and elaborate chimney tell me that it might be a product of the 1880s or very late 1870s. Italianates, as we have seen, were still being built that late, although decoration was simplified in accordance with changing tastes, especially after the exuberance of the 1870s. It could also be an older house that was remodeled. At any rate that's my guess (there will be a lot of guessing with Springfield). If anyone does have some information about it, please let me know!

I wanted to post a picture of this interesting Queen Ann, also on Westminster, to give you an idea of the surrounding houses. It has been beautifully restored.

Monday, May 27, 2013

123/125 Mulberry Street, Springfield, MA

123/125 Mulberry St. Springfield, MA. 1850s?

This house on Mulberry Street in Springfield is part of a recognized historic neighborhood. A block away from Union Street, this house is also part of the constructions by wealthy people near Maple Avenue. The house follows the symmetrical plan, but lacks a cupola. The house features double windows on the front façade, with tombstone windows in the center bay on the second floor. What caught my eye on this house were the eared window surrounds, which simulate Greek Revival shallow pediments with corner anthemia, or palmettos. That shows that this house must be an earlier example since it is transitional in its detailing from Greek Revival to Italianate. Of course, these examples here are highly stylized. Springfield's Italianates seem particularly plain and simple, and I wonder whether restraint was an important priority to the city's designers. There are windows wedged into the cornice as well for the third floor; the central one of these has an eared surround which might have topped the others.

The cornice is simple and features a band of frieze molding and rather large dentils. The columns on the porch are an unfortunate replacement and look to be Colonial Revival, from the 1890s or so. They do seem silly supporting such a heavy entablature; originally they were probably thick square columns with chamfered edges. The original doors with arched windows seem to still be in place, a nice feature. Since the central second story tombstone windows are elongated, I would guess the porch originally had a balcony on top, a good restoration project for the owners. The house also features a side porch which is visible on this site. This house's back view is on the Springfield Cemetery, a surprisingly well maintained place. While we might balk today at having a cemetery view, Victorians did not think much of looking at some graves. Cemeteries were conceived of as parks, were romantic, and pleasant places. People in the 19th century often held picnics at the cemetery! Agewise, I would say this house is probably from the 1850s or early 1860s because of the tombstone windows, the Greek Revival window surrounds, and the general detailing. It is definitely not from 1903, as the website says.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

383 Union Street, Springfield, MA

383 Union St. Springfield, MA. 1863

I was in Springfield a few days ago and was very impressed by the restoration going on in that city. It's been in rough shape for a long time, and it was nice to see that whole neighborhoods, especially of stupendous Queen Ann houses seem to be in the process of wholesale restoration. It is definitely a city worth visiting. This house, which according to a realty listing was built in 1863 and about which I do not have much information, is at 383 Union Street, near the historic Mulberry Street neighborhood. This area surrounding this area's main road, Maple Avenue, was once the wealthiest area of the city and hosts some impressive homes in many 19th century styles. This house follows the five-bay plan, a plan that was a holdover from colonial Georgian architecture. The five-bay plan is actually one of the longest-lived plans in American history, being present at the beginning, and still used today. The house has a shallow hip roof with a central cupola. The first floor windows on the front are elongated, which gives it a somewhat Greek Revival appearance. The cornices over the window are quite simple, as is the main cornice, which lacks the characteristic brackets, but has the wide eave.

The real treasure of this house is the door, which features no freestanding columns but huge brackets that run from the base to the small porch overhang. I have seen this type of surround before, particularly in the Washington D.C. area, and was surprised to find it here. There is a large s-curve bracket at the base and under the overhang with an elongated curving bracket connecting the two. There are finials hanging from under the upper brackets and each one is deeply carved. The door itself, which is boarded up (the house appears to be unoccupied) seems to have sidelights and a transom. I also really liked the current color scheme of the house. The reds, yellows, and blues, all primary colors, are used in a softened form that picks out the details well. I thought the use of two tones of red on the cupola was particularly pleasing and gave the house a truly Victorian look. The following pictures show the side elevations and a few details on the door.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Three Sandstone Italianates in Madison, WI

The Gilman House, 1855 Photo: Shihmei Barger

The Fuller-Bashford House, 1856 Photo: Richard Hurd

The Kendall House, 1855 Photo: Shihmei Barger
These three Italianates form a natural group. They were all built around the same time and in the same neighborhood, Madison's Mansion Hill District, by the city's wealthy. They are all built of the same sandstone and have similar detailing; thus, they represent a good window on the styling of one particular area at a specific time. Architect August Kutzbock, who has designed several houses in earlier posts probably had a hand in designing all three. These houses are notable for their simplicity of ornamentation and their dependence on sandstone and its texture for effect, rather than elaboration of moldings and variation of elements. They serve as a good contrast of Kutzbock's more flamboyant designs for the Keenan and Pierce houses nearby.
The Gilman house follows the irregular plan, odd as it may seem. It lacks the tower, which is not an uncommon practice, and the area that should be slightly recessed for the tower's base is flush with the projecting pavilion; elongating the design. It was built in 1855 for Julius White, but its real claim to fame is that it housed the governors of Wisconsin from 1883 to 1950. The house has segmented arched windows and spare sandstone window surrounds; the greatest variation is the pairing of windows on the right of the façade which top a box window. The entablature is narrow and the brackets are an interesting feature in that they strive to give an impression of width rather than height. The porch on this house is not original.
The Fuller-Bashford house also follows the irregular plan, but features the tower, which is apparently a rarity in Madison. Perhaps the sunny campanile didn't appeal to the settlers in the snowy north. It was built in 1856-7 for Robet Bashford, an attorney and mayor; the Fullers were railroad tycoons who bought it in 1865. This is one of the more sophisticated houses; it features eared window surrounds and paired tombstone windows (also with eared moldings) in the projecting pavilion. The cornice is spare, featuring no brackets but only a run of dentil molding. Unlike most of the houses we have seen, this tower does not feature arched windows on the top story, but simply repeats the windows of the other floors, an oddity. There is an odd aspect to the windows; the second floor windows appear a bit too long. Often architects tried to vary the window height; in general the windows get smaller as one moves up the façade. In this house, however, they look to be the same size regardless. The rather ghastly porch is not original to the house, although I don't know if it originally had one.
The Kendall house follows the symmetrical plan, with a mansard roof added in 1873. Originally it had a shallow hip roof with a cupola. It was built for J. E. Kendall, a banker, in 1855. This house features shallow pedimented cornices above the tall windows and the front door has ear moldings. This house seems to have been jazzed up with a box window and cornice, which look from their size and elaboration to be Second Empire additions, although there's a possibility they could be original.
Taken separately, these houses are not particularly impressive. As a group, however, they provide interesting information about the simple and elegant tastes of Madison's early wealthy families and about the early parts of Kutzbock's career before he embraced the complexity of Rundbogenstil. They serve as the perfect foil for the later houses of how a few years and the growth of a city could radically change the freedom with which people personalized their homes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The George Keenan House, Madison, WI

The George Keenan House, Madison, WI 1858 Shihmei Barger

Photo: Richard Hurd
Before you ask, let me say it: the mansard roof is a later addition of 1870. The house was originally built as an Italianate and seems to have an intact Italianate façade; the roof was simply altered to keep up with the Second Empire fashion. When looking at it, you just have to imagine the low hip roof that originally would have crowned it. There might also have been a cupola akin to the Pierce house. The reason I decided to post this house, which is a block from the Pierce house, is that it also manifests the marriage of Italianate and Rundbogenstil. The house was built in 1858 for Napoleon Van Slyke (there's a name!) who never lived in it. It is named after a famous surgeon who lived here in the early 20th century. The designer was August Kutzbock, the architect responsible for Madison's collection of Rundbogenstil designs. Unlike the wooden John Hill house and the sandstone Pierce house, this house is constructed of Milwaukee cream brick, a specialty of Wisconsin, and follows the symmetrical plan. In fact, aside from the sandstone highlights, the entire house, even the decorative balconies and cornice, is constructed of brick. The projection of the central front bay is common to this type, as we have seen. It might have originally had a gable above it. The paired tombstone windows are by now a familiar feature of Italianate design as is the grouping of the first floor windows by a common cornice. It somewhat resembles the window treatment of the Reddick house. Another telltale Italianate feature is the wooden awning that crowns the small door on the façade of the ell to the right of the house.

The house manifests Rundbogenstil in its cornice and impressive porches. The brick cornice is supported by a series of brick brackets that resemble the corbels and machicolations of Medieval castle architecture. This is set over a simple fringe of inverted crenellations that almost resemble dentils. The cornice switches to a simple dentilled design on the projecting section, which might be a later addition. The windows in classic Rundbogenstil manner are rounded, feature a Gothicized Venetian tracery, and are surrounded by sandstone hood moldings and capitals featuring inverted crenellations. The first floor windows have a similar treatment are on a slight projection crowned by a cornice. The central bay has bricks laid in a blind flat topped trefoil arch and a traditionally traceried window. The house has two impressive Romanesque porches. Each features sandstone turrets at the corners, setting off an undulating brick balustrade, an interesting design. The brick is laid so that projections resemble an odd abstraction of inverted crenellations. While the Pierce house seems to draw inspiration from Romanesque church architecture, the Keenan house definitely has a castle-like feeling, demonstrating that the same architect can draw from two very different idioms for the same type of house. Perhaps there was simply a desire to distinguish. The Keenan house, with its mansard that is actually quite well integrated and complementary to Kutzbock's design, is a unique testimony to Kutzbock's versatility.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The McDonnell-Pierce House, Madison, WI

The McDonell-Pierce House, Madison, WI 1857 Photo: Wikimedia

Photo Shihmei Barger
Continuing with the exploration of Rundbogenstil Italianate, this is probably the prime example I can think of and one of the most beautiful. This house in Madison, WI was built for Alexander McDonnell, the contractor for the state capitol designed in a similar Rundbogenstil manner; the architects were August Kutzbock and Samuel Donnel. Kutzbock, a German immigrant, might have inspired the adoption of Rundbogenstil design in this house, reflecting his Germanic past. Other buildings designed by him use this same type of ornamentation, and it is definitely a vernacular peculiarity of the Madison area. The house is situated in what was once one of Madison's most elegant neighborhoods, the aptly named Mansion Hill neighborhood. Later the house was owned by George Pierce an executive, after whose death it became like many great houses, a boarding house. Currently it is a boutique hotel, the Mansion Hill Inn, and it is beautifully preserved.

The house is a tour de force of design and elaboration. The house follows the pavilioned plan and is faced with Prairie du Chene sandstone from Wisconsin. Unlike some of the sandstone we have seen, this type is relatively monotonous in color and lack of veining. The house follows many of the principles of Rundbogenstil. The cornice and entablature are heavily layered. Beneath the cornice is a run of dentils, followed by paired inverted crenellations, a broad empty band, and finally a straight run of inverted crenellations. All the variety allows the cornice to be complex and avoid monotony. At the corners of the gables are large stone posts that hang off the walls, featuring floral ornaments at the top and bottom. This type of hanging post at a corner is a hallmark of sophisticated Rundbogenstil. All the windows feature Venetian tracery. The first floor consists primarily of bay windows, while the second floor has paired windows linked by a tall arched with a carved hood molding. The ends of the hood mold feature, again, paired inverted crenellations. The bay windows are uneven, the center window being double, the sides single; the employment of the Venetian tracery in the sides of the bay window is somewhat odd with the circle included over the single window. Raised stone quoins that link to a band in the entablature complete the effect. Being built on a slope, half of the house's basement is exposed, and the architect picked an odd trefoil motif for the windows and carving of this section, livening up what is otherwise the least elaborate section of most houses. The side facades also feature oddly elliptical quatrefoil windows in the gables.

Particularly Italianate about this house besides the massing and effect is the cupola. The cupola is elaborate, as many Midwestern cupolas are; it is unevenly octagonal and features almost Gothic strapwork surrounding the windows. The left side of the house features an elaborate two story iron porch, which echoes the iron porch in the center of the façade around the door and the railings over the bay windows. The railings and side porch are particularly thin and delicate in contrast to the heaviness of the palm columns and vines on the front porch. The painting of the porches and ironwork greenish blue is reflective of the historical coloration; the black color we associate with it today has come from darkening paint whose effect was continued by painting it black in subsequent repaintings. The door is flanked by niches, is arched, has vegetal carving in the spandrels, and features red glass cut to clear in the transom, displaying the richness of the design. The following images by various photographers (the house is certainly photogenic) illustrate some details.

 Photo: Jennifer Tharp
 Photo: Richard Hurd
Photo: Jennifer Tharp

Enlargement of Wikimedia photo above.
 Photos of the interior by Shihmei Barger.

Monday, May 20, 2013

American Rundbogenstil: The John Hill House, Erie, PA

The John Hill House, Erie, PA. 1836/1854 Photo Don O'Brien.

Picture from Wikimedia.

These next few posts are going to explore an odd little corner of Italianate: its mixing with the German Rundbogenstil. 'Rundbogenstil' is a mouthful, as most German compounds are, that means "round arched style". This style presented itself as a revival of Romanesque architecture, particularly Rhenish examples. It developed in Germany in the early and mid 19th century and was part of the German quest to discover a distinctly German architectural style and German romanticism for the middle ages, a long search that obsessed much of 19th century German aesthetics and culminated in Historizmus, basically a German Renaissance Revival. The style was carried to the US by German immigrants who wanted a style that expressed their German origins and thus a national architectural idiom was applied to Italianate designs popular at the same time. As we have seen, Italianate can take a lot of different styles of ornamentation, and Rundbogenstil is a good example of this phenomenon. As a marriage of styles it makes sense; Italianate was always emulating Italian Romanesque architecture, although it did so in a highly stylized way. The effect of Rundbogenstil is one of changing some of the direction from Italian to German precedents. Nonetheless, the hallmarks of Italianate remain. The main features of Rundbogenstil are arched windows that almost always have Venetian/Florentine tracery, inverted crenellations, or drops which are rows of small arches near the cornice, shallow gables, and thick quoins. One of the chief examples of this style in the US is the Astor Library in New York, 1853, almost contemporary with the Hill house, pictured below with a photo from Wikimedia.

The John Hill house was built in 1836 for William Johns, probably in some early Italianate or Greek Revival form. The house's current appearance is due to John Hill who purchased it in 1854 and gave the house its current appearance. John Hill being a carpenter who was responsible for some other Romanesque inspired commercial structures in Erie, probably did the work and design for the house himself. The house follows the irregular plan, with some modifications. Unlike the typical irregular house, the Hill house lacks a tower or even a projecting area for the tower base; the façade even is recessed where the tower should be. The projecting section projects much further than we have seen. The façade is sided in flush boards, or wooden boards that don't overlap as in typical clapboard construction. This gives the appearance of a smooth wall or plastered surface. Every section of the façade incorporates a shallow gable which has a bracketed cornice and Romanesque inverted crenellations and all the windows are arched with thick molded surrounds and have Venetian tracery. A belt course with dentils separates the first and second floors.

The front part of the projecting section features a bay window that repeats the cornice and a beautifully composed arch on the second floor that incorporates two windows separated by a small column and a delicate piece of jigsaw cutting. The side façade of the projecting section is long enough that it also incorporates a gable and is divided into three bays separated by quoins; the center bay features an arched window, and the sides blind arches (arches that are filled in). The recessed part of the façade has a small projecting, gabled pavilion on the right that has deeply cut quoins. The porch seems original, although the railings do not. A two story bay window on the right side façade seems to have oddly no definitions or ornaments but is almost completely flat, a strange choice on an eccentrically ornamented house like this. The iron fence looks original, and it is obvious the house is well maintained by the law office that appears to inhabit it. The color scheme looks quite period appropriate to me. I think the blue excellently complements the pale yellow of the facade and emphasizes the details nicely. The enlargement below of Don O'Brien's image above highlights a few details.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Rush R. Sloane House, Sandusky, OH

The Rush R. Sloane House, Sandusky, OH. 1850s Photo: Wikimedia
The Sloane house in Sandusky, OH was built in the early 1850s, but is known by its most famous occupant Rush R. Sloane who purchased it in 1854 from its builder, Samuel Torrey. Sloane was a lawyer early in his career and later became a railroad president and mayor of Sandusky. The house is well-known because it likely served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

This house follows the side hall plan, but it is also towered, a sometimes seen variation on the traditional side hall house. Although the house seems in rough shape in this image, the decay shows us that it is built of fieldstone with a plaster coating, probably to simulate cut stone; cut stone is also implied by the corner quoins. The white coloring of the house is probably not historical; it is likely it would have been painted various shades of brown, also to simulate stone and because Downing's color theories held a lot of sway in the 50s. Downing railed against white houses as being disturbing in the landscape and instead advocated for tans, browns, pinks, and pale blues as appropriate colors. The cornice is of the paneled style, with heavy brackets and large dentils. The ornament is overall exuberant. The house has eared moldings with hood moldings that appear like broken reverse ogee arches with incised ornament and strong keystones. They seem to be made out of cast iron. The left side features a rather damaged Juliette balcony with a fringed wooden awning, while the entrance porch has a flat top trefoil arch and Corinthian columns. The lions on the newel posts do not look original to me.

The roof and tower are particularly beautiful in their execution. To increase the appearance of the tower's height, it is situated on a base with panels and rusticated edges. The arched windows are surrounded by panels and pilasters. The tower roof is a very small mansard with a shallow slope. One more detail that caught my fancy was the chimney. The chimney visible in the image is paneled and has a bracketed cornice with a round pediment. This is a particularly French looking detail. Certain aspects of the house, the trefoil arch, the elaborateness of the hood moldings, the Second Empire style chimney, and the complex cornice tell me this might have been remodeled or added to in the late 60s or 70s. Since Rush achieved his fortune in the 60s and became mayor in the late 70s, he might have decided to update his more sedate villa of the 50s with fashionable elaborateness. It does remain a grand looking house despite its current disrepair. The following enlargements show some of the details.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Henderson Hall, Williamsburg, WV

Henderson Hall, Williamsburg, WV. 1856-59 Photo Wikimedia.

Photo: Mike on Flickr.
This house should look familiar. It is extremely close in design to the Charles Brearly house we looked at recently in Trenton, NJ. Italianate architecture was spread through the all important 19th century pattern books, carpenters, engravings, and people simply looking at others' houses. Although I can't speak to what influenced the similarity of these two houses, I suspect that it was one of these factors that caused houses separated by hundreds of miles to look so similar. While the Brearly house was built in an urban setting, Henderson Hall was constructed as a somewhat rural plantation house. The house was built by George Henderson, a slaveholder, who operated a plantation from the house, but Henderson by the time of the Civil War had a change of heart and became a supporter of the Union. Construction began in 1836, but between 1856 and 1859, the house was enlarged and gained its current Italianate appearance. The family continuously lived in the house until 1984 when it became a museum. The Hendersons never threw anything away, and thus their house is a fantastic time capsule of their family's history. An interesting article describes the history of the house and features interior photographs.

The house resembles the Brearly house in its general design. Like the Brearly house, it follows the symmetrical plan. It features the same treatment of the façade: paired flat windows on the first floor, arched tombstone windows on the second, and triple arched windows on the third. Even the distribution of the brackets and pilasters is similar; the style of the brackets themselves resembles the house in Trenton. However, the house also differs. Unlike the Brearly house, the dentil motif is less strong here. The belt course doesn't wrap around the pilasters and is not dentilled. The cornice is toothed rather than featuring dentils. There is no central projection or pediment here; the house is mostly flat. The façade may have been stuccoed with its stone trimmings, but the even brickwork suggests that it might not have been (when a house was stuccoed, bricklayers often did not lay the bricks in such a careful way). Henderson Hall's door is a Greek Revival throwback, probably from the 1836 construction with its sidelights and transom, but it is incongruously surrounded by a rather Italianate looking porch, with unclassical columns and simple decoration. There are no side porches on this house like the Brearly house, but the hip roof is surmounted by a cupola with a row of seven small arched windows. A nice thing about Henderson Hall is that it features shutters; many Victorian homes featured shutters that have since been removed. That's not to say they were ubiquitous, but they did occur more frequently than one sees today. The view below, also from Wikimedia, shows the back of the house, which probably shows the original 1836 elements. I'll admit that from this angle, the whole affair looks kind of silly, but plantations were businesses centered on the home. Additions and changes thus had more pragmatic importance than aesthetic concerns.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The William and Frederick Vanderheyden House, Ionia, MI

The William and Frederick Vanderheyden House, Ionia, MI. 1879 Photo: Wikimedia
The Vanderheyden house in Ionia is one of the last houses I'll deal with in this town for a bit. The house is truly unique. It was built in 1879 for a father and a son, William and Frederick Vanderheyden and their separate families. The house is a double house, and everything is repeated symmetrically on each side, but the two houses share a front hall and front and back stairs. That is an oddity since even most family compound double houses feature separate stairs. With such a cozy shared space, one would hope father and son and their families got along well! When the father (William) died in 1910, his son used his half of the house as a library and office space.

The house follows the pavilioned plan, two symmetrical bays joined with a central porch. These bays are much shallower than those seen in typical pavilion plan houses. The yellow brick was made at the Vanderheyden's own brickyards, which shipped brick to many sites in the area and around Michigan. This type of yellow or ivory brick is a particularly upper Midwestern material and can be found in buildings in Wisconsin, upper Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as other states. The Vanderheyden's thus advertised their own trade in the facing of their home. The house is relatively simple for its time. All the windows are arched with the expected thick stone hood moldings, although the depth of the arch varies. The basement is local rusticated sandstone, while the cornice is a simple affair of particularly long brackets, seen in other Ionia homes, and intervening runs of smaller brackets. The long brackets are used to define the façade sections. The house once featured an upper balustrade on the peak of the hip roof that has been removed. The porch is a particularly nice feature, echoing the polygonal shape of the bay windows and continuing the rhythm of the building. Note the delicate lattice work under the porch. The only asymmetrical aspects of the house seem to be the presence on the left of a side porch and of a bay window on the right. Perhaps father and son wanted some variation in their respective living wings. Although the color scheme may strike us as drab, it is probably appropriate to the period. The Victorians often chose the colors of stone, browns, tans, and grays, to simulate actual stone construction. The Vanderheyden house remains an interesting monument to the way generations of a family expressed themselves in a unified home.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Frederick Hall House, Ionia, MI

The Frederick Hall House, Ionia, MI. 1869-70 Photo by Teegan Baiocchi.

Photo: HABS

The Hall house in Ionia is a particularly exuberant symmetrical plan house. The house was built in 1869-70 for Frederick Hall, a banker and public official in Ionia in the 1840s and 50s; it is currently used as a library. The builder was Capt. Lucius Mills. This house, like the Blanchard house in the same town, is built out of the unique sandstone quarried nearby in Lyons, MI, giving it the same colorful effect. The selection of the stone is less emphatic in its use of dark veins. The cornice frieze and corner quoins are also made of sandstone. Evidently in Ionia, this type of sandstone was a prestige building material that attracted local notables.

Again, features of the 1860s and 70s abound. The hood moldings over the side segmented arched windows are thick as is that over the central round arched window. The center window employs the Venetian or Florentine (both descriptors are found) tracery, suggestive of elegant urban Renaissance architecture. This tracery is repeated in the left side porch design where it is curvier and more Gothic looking. The glazed right side porch also has the Venetian tracery. The back porch has yet another type of decoration, flat top trefoil arches pierced by a horizontal band. The by now familiar trefoil arch shape is found in the front porch and in the gable window that is pointed to match the gable's outline in a way similar to the Kellogg house. The cornice has a band of horizontal molding, forming an empty frieze and is pierced by long icicle-like brackets, also like the Blanchard house. Instead of s-curves, the brackets feature square pierced designs. The brackets in the gable are shallower and less ornamented. There are such similarities, that the Blanchards seem to have been influenced by this house's design. The cupola of the house is of a unique octagonal shape with each bay pierced by tombstone windows and a shallow hip roof crowning the whole. The following photos show other facades of the house and interiors, all from HABS.

This photo shows the side porch with its odd Gothic rendition of Venetian tracery.
The interiors of the house remain surprisingly intact given its adaptation as a public library. The staircase includes original lincrusta beneath the chair rail. The photos show that much of the original interior finish, especially the wallpaper, even on the ceilings, is intact. The last picture seems to depict the room at the center of the second story.