Monday, January 27, 2014

The William H. Ross House, Seaford, DE

The William H. Ross House, Seaford, DE. 1859 Photos: Lee Cannon

The William H. Ross house is a truly monumental Italianate in the middle of nowhere; in southern Delaware near the Maryland border, the house is a sophisticated example of stucco Italianates associated with the 1850s in a rural setting. A southern sympathizer, like many in neighboring Maryland during the Civil War, Ross was a wealthy investor, governor, and slaveholder in Delaware. His house no doubt reflects his experience of the elaborate Italianates found in cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia. The house follows a side tower plan with some modifications. We would expect the front facade on the left to end with the tower, however, the architect added an extra gabled pavilion, which somewhat melds the house's side tower plan with the pavilion plan or irregular plan. The house, faced in brick, is full of arches. All the windows and shutters are arched as are the porch and main door. The monotony of arched windows, however, is broken by the variations in their deployment. On the left pavilion, we have paired broad tombstone windows, while the right pavilion has thin triple arched windows. On the tower, there are widely spaced tombstone windows, but only one window in the top stage that has Venetian tracery. Some of the windows have very simple drip moldings. The door is recessed in the base of the tower, which is uncommon in the side tower plan and resembles more the irregular plan. The door is a simple affair with a glass surround. The brackets as well are pretty simple. The simplicity of design and clean lines make this house a particularly lovely example, and the very appropriate paint job, which could have been pulled right from Downing, makes the house seem like a perfectly preserved example. The interior images are from HABS.


  1. Hello, I found your blog and enjoy reading your material. Your descriptions are absolutely sumptuous and your knowledge as it regards Victorian design is incredible! I read a blog entry you wrote about the Robinson House in Detroit. I do a lot of work researching old Detroit homes and in fact I just had artistically rendered a home that was a near identical smaller version of this home (I could show you if you like). I was wondering though if I could ask something of you. I have been obsessed with a house in Detroit built 1880s and torn down 1960s at 88 Edmund. I was wondering if I could trouble you to write one of your beautiful analyses of this house. It isn't Italianate, but it is quite unique. Here is a link to the photo of the house (see far left house in each photo, the house of neo-baroque design) and a rendering of it. I do appreciate it if you would be so willing to oblige me.

    The architect is unknown but Gordon W. Lloyd built a similar house, which could indicate it's one of his works.
    Both based off the pavilions of the Palais des Tuileries/Louvre in Paris.

  2. Hello. Thanks for preserving this beautiful style by showing existing examples. I have an Italianate in Richmond Indiana, known as the King Mansion. It is a farm house, I am trying to pick new trim colors to go with red brick. Very difficult. As your blog shows...keeping in step with the Italianate style. Jan