Thursday, January 16, 2014

The John Hart Whorton House, Appleton, WI

The John Hart Whorton House, Appleton, WI. 1875 Photo: bigcityal
This house was built in 1875 by John Hart Whorton, an important banker. It is an interesting example of the side tower plan, in that unlike other examples, the central recessed section is extremely short and the tower is unusually large. The tower is emphasized by the slightly projecting roof at the base of the top stage. Odd as well is the porch that runs across the entire front of the house, since in other examples the porch can only be found in the central facade section. The porch is also interesting for its long spans which are emphasized by the simple gingerbread. The facade is faced in yellow/cream brick which is a common feature in Wisconsin with brownstone highlights, creating a highly polychromatic effect. The windows are all arched, and the hood moldings consist of slightly projecting brick with brownstone keystones and finials. The style of this house, with its prevalence of arched windows, brick, and polychrome is sometimes called Lombardic, because it has a close affinity with the Romanesque architecture of the Lombards in Italy which was being publicized in the 19th century. So-called Lombardic ornament is of course just one of the many subsets of Italianate design.

The cornice on this house with its panels and s-curve brackets is particularly large, in keeping with the exaggerations in the plan and scale of other elements. Interestingly, the brackets do not continue around the base of the top stage of the tower, making it appear disconnected from the main house. Perhaps the best thing about the house, in my opinion, is how sensitively it is painted. The trim colors emphasize and harmonize with the colors of the stone and bricks of the facade, making the whole look like a consistent architectural unit. It is a testament to how a well painted Italianate can look.


  1. It also commands quite a view over the river, would have been a much quieter road at the time too.

  2. The house was designed by Oshkosh architect William Waters in 1872 and originally had a smaller porch. Mr. Water also designed a commercial building for Mr. Whorton.

    Richard Nebel

    1. Thanks for the info! I always appreciate it.