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.

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