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.

1 comment:

  1. What a joy it would be to walk up/down that staircase every day.