Saturday, February 7, 2015

'Fountain Elms' the James and Helen Williams House, Utica, NY

'Fountain Elms', Utica, NY. 1852 Photo: Wikimedia
Following Photos: mrsmecomber
'Fountain Elms' is a fine house on Utica's Genesee Street, a major thoroughfare. Built for Helen and James Williams in 1852 by architect William Woollett it is currently a museum space for the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute. Because the Williams planned to make the house a museum space, the interiors (created in a much higher style than the house featured originally) and exterior are well preserved and feature an exceptional collection of mid-19th century furniture and artwork. As with the other houses of the 1850s I have been exploring, it is severe in its design, but it employs an uncommon plan, the pavilioned plan with two symmetrical projecting pavilions connecting a central entrance bay. The pavilion design seems to be reflected on the right side of the house as well, where two bays strongly project at the ends (pictured below).

Interesting features of the house include thick brownstone moldings around the windows, fine rafter brackets typical of early Italianates, and blind arches (even in the chimneys). The thickness of the moldings on the second floor round headed windows gives the house a top-heavy appearance because of the simplicity of the bracket and cornices on the first floor windows. The Palladian window in the center is uncommon, but particularly unique is the Palladian configuration of the door with detached side lights. The porch and balustrades are dignified and Renaissance-inspired. Finally, the color scheme of this house is particularly historical and well conceived. Here, the stucco is painted yellow, while the trim is all a uniform brown to simulate the brownstone of the moldings. This house allows us to consider the effect of using simple and historically correct colors for an Italianate house.

Photo: Mike Christoferson

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