Friday, February 27, 2015

The Allan Gazlay House, Cincinnati, OH

The Gazlay House, Cincinnati, OH Late 1860s Photo: Christie

Photo: John S
The Allen Gazlay House was built in the late 1860s for a wealthy property owner and investor on Dayton Street, and it is probably one of the best examples of Anglo-Italianate in the area. It is symmetrical in plan with the side bays slightly projecting and the limestone facade is defined by quoins. The windows are simpler than in other houses on Dayton, with all of them arched with a thick molding and rococo details at the top. On the first floor, there are Renaissance stone balconies. The most exciting feature is the extremely elaborate Renaissance door surround, which has Corinthian pilasters supporting a full entablature that is deeply carved and a triangular pediment. The round arched door is surrounded by a molding with more vegetal carving in the spandrels. Carving continues on the bracketless cornice which has a deeply carved vegetal frieze and dentils. Rare for houses on this street, the side facades, although plain brick, have some limestone details around the windows. The house seems to have taken all its decorative inspiration from the Renaissance and makes for a design that looks much more like the 1880s Renaissance revival than 1860s Italianate. The grandeur is carried over to the fencing, which has pedimented newel posts around the entrance.
Images below are from HABS, including a couple of the interior.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Andrew Hickenlooper House, Cincinnati, OH

Hickenlooper House, Cincinnati, OH. 1871. Photo: Christie
Photos: Wikimedia
This house at 838 Dayton St. was built in 1871 by successful Civil War general Andrew Hickenlooper, who was involved in Sherman's march through Georgia. The house, which follows the rowhouse plan is one of the most elaborate of the houses on Dayton. Its limestone facade is articulated into three strong bays, like the Hauck house, in which the central bay is slightly less bold than the flanking bays. The first floor features segmental arched windows, all with strong moldings and keystones. These are divided into bays by Ionic pilasters with floral carvings. Notably, the string course molding advances and recesses with the pilasters. The second floor is where the real variation begins. The flanking bays project slightly and feature segmental arched windows with eared moldings and a curved pediment on acanthus brackets. These are pulled straight from Renaissance designs and make this house a good example of Anglo-Italianate style. The central bay is recessed and has just the eared molding around the window, but the carved swags, a notably lavish element, emphasize it significantly in the design. Basically, this house is well balanced in its distribution of elements that attract and diminish. The cornice features paired simple brackets; the flanking bays have a simple paneled cornice, while the central bay has a bull's eye cornice, keeping the three bay distinction all the way up. The whole is topped by a fancy stone cresting that simulates Greek acanthus leaf crestings. As in the Hauck house, all is liberally carved on the front, while the sides are very very plain.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The John Hauck House, Cincinnati, OH

The John Hauck House, Cincinnati, OH. 1870 Photo: Christie
Unless noted, photos from Wikimedia
It's time for me to talk about one of the most impressive collections of high-style Italianates in the US, Cincinnati's Dayton Street district. Situated in Cincinnati's Over the Rhine (OTR) neighborhood, a German immigrant area that boasts one of the finest, uninterrupted 19th century streetscapes in the US, Dayton Street was the fanciest street in the city until the very late 19th century. It is this neighborhood and Cincinnati's general possession and care for its hundreds of historic buildings that make it one of my favorite cities to visit.

While Dayton Street in itself is a street of impressive homes, the Hauck House is one of the best known. Although it was cared for as a house museum, it seems that the museum has been closed. This is a shame because it boasts an amazing series of interiors. Built in 1870 by George Skaats, it is best known for being owned by the brewer John Hauck. Starting from the outside, the house has an impressive symmetrical limestone facade, made of the yellowish limestone one sees a lot in Cincinnati; the architect who designed it is unknown. Broadly, the formality of the design connects it with Anglo-Italianate style, but it displays much more of a departure from Renaissance precedents than other examples. The facade is divided into three bays by projections, but these projections are not carried onto the first floor in the center, giving it a bit of a top heavy appearance. The side bays feature segmental arched, paired windows on the first floor with neo-Grec Corinthian columns and heavy hood moldings. On the second floor, there are paired tombstone windows with columns and deep recessed surrounds. The whole bay is created by a stone frame which, on one side has quoins and is topped by an arch with carved spandrels. The first and second floors are divided by a strong string course. The center bay has a plainer surround for the arched window with a carved drip molding. The main door is arched with an elaborate surround with carved rococo foliage, pilasters and moldings. The paneled cornice has simple brackets and between brackets has carved Eastlake designs. I particularly like how the stone joints curve around the arches. The interest in rococo carving reminds me of the Backus house in Baltimore as well as houses in the Mt. Vernon district.

This elaboration is not matched on the sides of the house, which are plain and almost windowless. The houses on Dayton street have the feel of row houses that are only slightly detached on very narrow lots. Clearly, land was at a premium in this residential enclave. There is also a carriage house that matches the planning of the front facade. The interiors are absolutely stunning, and in particular, the frescoed ceilings and mosaic and parquet floors are well worth a look. There is an extensive series of interior images in color here, which were taken by Alice Weston who documented many of Cincinnati's fine homes. These are well worth a look!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

'Beechwood', the Isaac Kinsey House, Milton, IN

The Isaac Kinsey House, Milton, IN. 1871. Photo: Wikimedia
Other images: HABS
The Isaac Kinsey house, also known as 'Beechwood' is a grand estate in rural Wayne County, IN. Built in 1871 and designed by the Richmond architect Joel Stover, it was the family farm for Isaac Kinsey, an investor in a very successful drill company. His house was so important to him, he had a panel painted to advertise his own home (pictured below). Although in a rural setting, Stover gave Kinsey a highly sophisticated, urban style home that would have been suitable in Richmond. The house starts as a typical side hall plan house, but the additions are what transform it cleverly into a fantasy. There is a long thin wing running to the right of the house, and the addition of two, two story bay windows with octagonal tent roofs topped by fantastic, baluster finials makes it seem like the house has exotic towers, although they don't stand out far from the facade as a real tower would.

The two big areas in which this house excels are iron and wood. The actual window surrounds are extremely plain and are basically just holes punched in the brick, stuccoed facade. Everywhere, iron is present to jazz up the design. Most notable is the two story, spindly iron porch around the main entrance with Gothic, Rococo, and Greek Revival flairs (most ironwork is a truly eclectic mix of styles). Additionally, the balcony wraps around the front bay window and is complemented by roof crestings and the metal finial on the bay window roofs. In terms of wood, the cupola itself has heavy molded surrounds for the arched windows, dentils, and moldings that suggest capitals for pilasters. The cornice is one of the more elaborate I've seen. It's of the fillet cornice type, although the windows and panels have semicircles cut out of the sides, a sort of reverse fillet. The windows are surrounded by all the doo-dads one could imagine, dentils, an architrave (uniquely made up of beveled panels), and balls. The house in fact seems obsessed with small wooden balls attached to all of the elements on its cornice. Additionally, the brackets, which are an odd double s type have both s-curves separated by a thick piece of flat molding. It's almost like they bought two brackets and stuck them together. The coolest thing about the cornice is that it runs around the house, rather than stopping like others do when an unimportant section is encountered. This is certainly a reflection of Kinsey's wealth that he could afford to throw money around on all that woodwork (hey that's how 19th century people thought about this stuff). No doubt the zany iron fountain also made a similar statement. HABS has pictures of the interior, drawings, plans, and an image of Kinsey's own house dedication painting.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The John C. Hopewell House, Flemington, NJ

The John C. Hopewell House, Flemington, NJ. 1850s Photos: HABS

The Hopewell house in Flemington is another impressive Italianate in this historic town. It was built in the 50s but displays a variety of interesting, elaborate features. It seems to me that when Italianate design was executed in wood, even in the spare 1850s, there was a tendency to greater ornamentation and experiment. The house broadly follows the irregular plan although instead of the usual tapering volumes, the tower just out beyond the projecting pavilion. Similarly, the recessed wing goes up a floor more than the gabled pavilion creating a lack of balance in the design. The windows on the lower floors are mostly rectangular with Greek Revival eared surrounds and bracketed cornices. The porches, which surround the house have an interesting round arch that has flattened sections with simple pillars. The main entrance was definitely once open. A Juliette balcony graces the double window on the projecting pavilion with simple crossed balustrade.

The tower is perhaps the coolest feature here. It displays the window variation on each floor that you sometimes find and is always fun to look at. The lower stage has the arched entrance porch, while the second has a segmental arched window with a molded pediment. The third floor has a spectacular round window with wheel tracery and a pediment, while the top stage is particularly fancy with a heavy molding around the arched windows with Venetian tracery. Photos of the interiors can be seen here.

Also of interest in the HABS archive for Flemington is this Greek Revival, the Reading House, that seems to have been demolished.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The George Bartles House, Flemington, NJ

The George Bartles House, Flemington, NJ. 1877 Photo: Wikimedia
The George Bartles house, built in 1877, is an important monument on Main Street in Flemington, a city full of significant historic houses. The house is a symmetrical plan villa and displays many characteristics of the architecture of the 70s. The facade is brick and is pierced with segmental arched windows with brownstone hood moldings. There is a central projection, seen on a lot of symmetrical homes, with an arched pediment above. The cornice is wood with c and s-scroll brackets and dentils, but unusually, the third floor segmental arch windows above the brownstone architrave molding disrupt the cornice with brick hood moldings. The whole is topped by a complicated cupola. Most interesting is the strapwork gingerbread on the porch which has very thin, elegant columns. The architect seems to have taken the round pediment as a theme: it is found on the projection as well as engaged in the center of the porch and on each side of the cupola cornice.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Worman-Apgar House, Frenchtown, NJ

The Worman-Apgar House, Frenchtown, NJ. 1869 Photos: Wikimedia

Moving on from Utica, the Worman-Apgar house in Frenchtown, NJ is an impressive and aggressively vertical irregular plan Italianate. The verticality is created by the narrowness of each of the facade planes. Although built in 1869, the house is far out of date, demonstrating the style of the 1850s and none of the complex carpentry associated with the late 60s and 70s. Nonetheless, it is a very high style example of the tradition of early Italianate designs. The house, finished in stucco scored to look like stone, is simple in its ornament. Large flat wall surfaces are pierced with round headed windows with thick moldings, and a flat architrave molding delineates the entablature. The thickness of the overhang is particularly notable as is the lack of brackets. The first floor flat head windows are without ornament. As on a lot of early-type designs, the fun is confined to interesting pieces of carpentry. Here, the curved tent-roof wooden awnings with fringes, the Juliette balcony over the door, and the simple, thin porch relieve the facade's solemnity. Also of interest is the slender wooden (flushboard) tower, which, at the top stage has a segmental arched window with a Henry Austin style eared molding. The cornice of the tower on all four facades has a pediment, a particularly elegant and vertical feature.

The house really does feel like an Austin design to me and it resembles, in its ornament, the Norton house. The front has a well preserved iron fence (see below). I think that the paint scheme for this house, although quite solemn, is very historically accurate in its attempt to suggest a stone construction.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Henry Street Houses, Utica, NY

These four houses, located on Henry Street in Utica, are typical of the high quality of craftsmanship, carpentry, and design that pervades all of Utica's homes. Utica is the city that I have found the most architectural potential in; not only does it have hundreds of high quality houses, but most of those homes because of widespread neglect, still have their original details unmarred by siding and additions so common in other cities. Although it is a rough town, Utica could be one of the most beautiful cities in the country if its showcase of Victorian design were restored. There is definite tourist potential here, and I would recommend any fan of 19th century design make the trip. The houses pictured here all stylistically date from the 1860s.

The house pictured above and that below are of the side hall plan, and they both bear a strong similarity in their taste for elaborate ornament. The first house above has open pedimented hood moldings that echo the elaborate front door, and the cornice is of the fillet type, with large filleted windows intersecting the moldings and emphasized by brackets.

This house is similar to the first, although it bears the distinctive feature of the side-hall plan in upstate New York. Instead of terminating at three bays, the house has an added fourth bay that is recessed, which usually contains, as here, a bay window.

I would call this house roughly symmetrical in plan. It differs from the clapboard houses by being brick and slightly more reserved ornamentally. Interesting are the stone Eastlake window hoods as well as the taking up of a full bay by a large two storied bay window.

This final house belongs to the side hall plan, but instead of three bays, it has a bay with a two storied bay window. All articulated in brick, the house deemphasizes the cornice in favor of focusing on the cast iron hood moldings.

As you can see, just one street in Utica features some impressive Italianates, all built around the same time, but all distinctive and playful with the plan and pattern of an Italianate in their own way. It is this architectural variety and experimentation that makes Utica one of my favorite architectural ensembles in the country.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Charles Yates House, Utica, NY

The Charles Yates House, Utica, NY. 1863-7 Photo: mrsmecomber
Photo: Carol
The Charles Yates house was built in 1863 or 1867 for Charles Yates, a clothing merchant, on Genesee Street in Utica, by Azel Lathrop, a local architect. For me, it is a house I am particularly drawn to in the city, because of its historically appropriate paint scheme (which is endemic to Utica houses) and its combination of Italianate with a nascent Second-Empire mansard. The house, I think, veers more toward Italianate because, although the roof is raised enough to provide for dormers, it does not constitute a full story like a proper mansard. As seen in my last post on the Millar-Wheeler house, the home displays the penchant in Utica for fine carpentry and includes a bay window over the porch.

The house broadly follows the symmetrical plan, but suggests the pavilion plan of Fountain Elms by having the facade project on the flanking bays. The facade is painted to look like stucco, and the details are done in brown to simulate stonework. The flanking bays have simple round headed windows with drip moldings. The real fun of the house comes in the central bay, like the Millar-Wheeler house, which creates on an essentially horizontal form a vertical emphasis. The porch, with all the elaboration expected in Utica, has paneled columns and heavy brackets, and the five bay, bay window (with a brief mansard) echoes this ornament. The cornice, interestingly is broken in the center by a dormer window that sort of suggests a tower or cupola, with a heavy cornice and arched window. The dormers as well have full bracketed cornices that reflect the complexity of the main, paneled cornice.

The Knights of Columbus moved in in 1913, but left in 2006 after a fire. The building, although owned, seems abandoned but cared for. It's a fine house that deserves a good plan for reuse, particularly because it makes such a statement on Utica's main street.