Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Walnut Grove' the Reuben Fenton House, Jamestown, NY

The Reuben Fenton House, Jamestown, NY. 1863 Photo: Wikimedia
The Fenton house, also known as 'Walnut Grove' was built in 1863 and is a particularly stately example of an irregular plan Italianate. Fenton was a significant mid-19th century legislator in New York state. The house has a stark brick facade, pierced by a bevy of arched windows. The main decoration in the brick is the Romanesque pilasters and drips on the tower, which recall the origins of the style in Italian monastic architecture. The windows on the projecting pavilion are three pointed shallow arches that enclose tombstone windows with columns supporting the arches. The other windows are almost all defined by Venetian tracery. Stone drip moldings complete the effect, carved with panels and heavy keystones and brackets. As far as woodwork goes, the stateliness and reserve of the design are reflected in the cornice, which has simple dentils, double s-curve brackets, and the porch which, though simply carved, displays a particularly crisp and finished level of carving and design. Notably, the house lacks an architrave molding which would create a stronger cornice. My favorite part of the house is the engaged gable on the projecting pavilion, where the actual point only slightly projects from horizontal moldings. It's a shape that gives the house much greater mass.


  1. I was just researching the Fenton house a few weeks ago. I have an old photo which was sold as the Reuben Fenton house, and while it is a towered Italian, it is much different from Walnut Grove, so its identification is still a mystery.

    We used to go fishing around Lake Chautauqua, but unfortunately I never saw Walnut Grove in person.

  2. Hi. You wrote about painting Italianate trim in a post in 2013. I am trying to chose trim colors for my Italianate farm house (orange-ish red brick) much like the Walnut house. What would be Historically correct for the trims for these types of brick Italianate houses? Jan