Saturday, January 30, 2016

The George Berry House, Oneida, NY

The George Berry House, Oneida, NY. 1860 Photo: Carol
From: History of Chenango and Madison Counties
Built by George Berry, a significant legislator and businessman in Oneida, around 1860 and later home of Manford J. Dewey businessman, this house remains a grand addition to Oneida at 416 Main Street. Looking at the older illustration below, it seems the house has been shorn of its grand tent-roof cupola as well as the anthemion over the pediment, but for the most part it remains intact although in some disrepair. The house is a five bay plan and includes a strong projection in the center that forms a central emphasis. This house displays some high quality woodwork throughout. Over the windows, there are engaged, arched pediments (engaged means they don't go to the edge of the flat molding) resting on brackets. Beneath the hood molding is a series of wooden fringes that hang down providing some fun detail. The porch is typical Italianate with filleted corners, but above there is a charmingly small bay window with arched windows that is bracketed, pilastered, and topped by a tent roof. The cornice as well is of the bull's eye type with panels centered on circular windows and filled with cut-out strapwork. Along the base of the string molding is a series of leaves that form a little fringe. The brackets are of the double s scroll type with larger and smaller members. It seems unfortunately from this real estate listing that the missing decoration of the left hand cornice was never restored and merely boarded up rather callously. At least they didn't remove it all, I have to give them that. In the right hands, with the cupola back, this could look like new!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Matthew J. Shoecraft House, Oneida, NY

The Shoecraft House, Oneida, NY. 1850. Photo: Onasil

Photo: Doug Kerr
This villa was built for Matthew J. Shoecraft, congressman and district attorney, at 260 Main St. in 1850 and makes up part of the Main-Grove-Broad Streets Historic District. The house is currently a funeral home. The house follows the symmetrical plan with paired windows and is white painted brick. The central pair of windows are tombstone windows, which distinguishes the bays central importance. The windows have flat hood moldings with little tufts of vegetation at the center. Additionally, the impressive entrance porch, which I personally like a great deal, adds to the house's central thrust. The porch has the usual complex "Renaissance" (at least they might have believed so) design with a filleted opening. However, inserted into this filleted opening is a broad arch resting on brackets that includes fantastic openwork jigsaw cut-outs in the spandrels. The house has s curve brackets that define the bays and pierce the run of elongated dentils in the cornice. Additionally, the cornice is a filleted, paneled type with interesting Greek Revival designs at the ends of each panel. Finally is one of my favorite features, the cupola with its central arched Venetian tracery window, flanked by two arched windows, that intrudes into the roofline.
Photo: Onasil

Photo: Onasil

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Jacques Dupre House, New Orleans, LA

The Jacques Dupre House, New Orleans, LA. 1830 
Built 1830 by Jacques Dupre at 938 Esplanade, this house is unlikely to have been as Italianate as it is today. Judging by the door, although that's a risky busines in a town of architectural synthesis, I'd say it was probably Greek Revival, but its current form is solidly Italianate, probably from the 1850s or so. The house follows the typical side hall plan and currently has a brick facade. First floor windows, as often in New Orleans are segmental arched while those of the second floor are rectangular; all have thick Renaissance style hood moldings. The cornice itself is paneled with simple paired brackets, and a balcony wraps around most of the building with spartan Gothic ironwork. Although not as flashy as some other houses, the Dupre house appears a good example of an average Italianate.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Florence Luling House, New Orleans, LA

The Florence Luling House, New Orleans, LA. 1865 Photo: Infrogmation
Photo: Wikimedia
Located off of Esplanade Avenue far out of central New Orleans at 1436 Leda Ct. is one of the most impressive Italianates in the area, the Florence Luling House, built in 1865 and designed by the famous architect James Gallier Jr. Luling lost is fortune soon after the Civil War and the home was sold to the Jockey Club of New Orleans who stayed there until 1905, after which its grounds were parceled off, outbuildings demolished, and was divided into apartments. Currently, it is in a state of decay, but the following historic images show the house's extensive grounds and outbuildings in its heyday.

The house has a five bay plan and is at once distinctly Anglo-Italianate and characteristic of New Orleans. Built of stone, the house displays its Anglo-Italianate characteristics in its reliance on Renaissance precedents in its design: there are quoins on the corners as well as a string of quoins defining the central bay, strong but simple string course moldings that connect all of the arched windows, and traditional palladian windows in the center of the front and side bays on the second floor. The door as well assumes a palladian shape with Ionic columns. The whole stands on a full story, very European rusticated base with a grand staircase and patio. Like the Gauche house, it has a balcony that wraps around three sides of the facade with a Renaissance style balustrade. The cornice is extremely heavy and thick; no doubt its thickness was necessary because of the house's height to maintain a sense of proportion and scale. The brackets themselves are suitably long to fill the deep eave and are deeply carved s-curves. The whole is topped by a simple cupola. In ostentation, this house resembles some of the "Fruit Palaces", Italianate homes built in Australia by wealthy fruit barons.

Unfortunately, the rear of the house remains unfinished and is a bit of a let-down. Clearly, this was built for frontal show. Perhaps the greatest loss are the outbuildings, which were connected to the main house by arches, a unique and grand feature. Also lost are the gardens of the house, which featured statues, circular walks, and even a lake with an island. Hopefuly the house will get some attention soon.

Photo: Wikimedia

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Cyprien Dufour House, New Orleans, LA

The Cyprien Dufour House, New Orleans, LA. 1859 Photos: Wikimedia

The Dufour-Baldwin House at 1705 Esplanade is one of the grandest compositions on the street. Built in 1859 by Cyprien Dufour, attorney and essayist, and designed by the architects Henry Howard and Albert Diettel, the house has an imposing presence on the street and conveys its builder's wealth effectively. It is the typical side hall plan of the Porch Facade type, with stucco, Gothic ironwork, and paired Doric columns. The first floor shows the typical expectations for Doric, with an astragal molding separating capital from shaft, ornamental rosettes in the necking, a flared echinus, and a flat abacus capping the whole (diagram below). Oddly, the second floor capitals are unclassical, with an elongated necking and no echinus. The abacus is shrunken, giving them a very strange and elongated appearance.

The other elements of the house are typically Greek, with thick, simple window surrounds, a fine doorway with carved classical wreaths and anthemia on the segmental arched door, and a simple paneled cornice with paired s curve brackets separating a run of dentils. The whole is topped by a paneled attic construction with different sized rectangular elements that draw the eye upward and articulate the divisions of the facade. However, when we look to the side, more strangeness abounds. The triple arched windows on the projection are especially strange. Frequently, one sees triple arched palladian windows where the side members are shorter than the central, as seen here. In this case, the architects surrounded a segmental arched window with two round arched windows, giving the structure an awkward look. You can tell the molding doesn't know what to do where the two different arch types intersect. It's an odd design, but a unique one; this is exactly the sort of fun one expects in a port city with all its different influences.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The John Gauche House, New Orleans, LA

The John Gauche House, New Orleans, LA. 1856

The John Gauche house at 704 Esplanade is one of the finest homes on the street. It was built by John Gauche, a china dealer in 1856, and the design is anything but "gauche" (pun intended). Set on a spacious lot, the house has a five bay plan with a long ell in the back that connects two a two story service building with classical porches. The house's ornamentation is minimal, with a plain stuccoed facade with no window surrounds, suggestive of early Greek Revival and early Italianate design that was closer to English precedents. The only relief to the facade's plainness is the fine architectural door surround that reproduces the proportions of a Greek Doric temple facade, lending the entrance weight. The designer placed most of the rhythm of this house in the hands of its extensive and expensive ironwork that surrounds the building. On the second floor, there is a balcony that runs around the entire house with an elaborate ironwork balustrade that depicts figures in roundels dancing among vine leaves and grapes. The extremely broad eave provides a cover for the second floor balcony. This is supported by classical paired iron brackets, one of the most significant examples of non-wooden brackets in an Italianate. The cornice at the end of the eave has not only a fringe cresting or Roman tendrils and vines hanging down, but also a creating of anthemia and palmettes that stands above the cornice. Thus, the straight cornice edge is completely hidden behind the lively ironwork that gives it more weight and prominence. That all this has survived the years unscathed is a miracle. Further weight is added by the thick cornice that surmounts the eave, balancing the broad facade with a vertical thrust. These two forces acting together create architectural harmony of proportion.

The house retains its iron fence with the stone newel posts that hold the composition together. The courtyard even contains an impressive 19th century iron fountain. The outbuildings are much simpler by comparison to the house, with a plastered facade and simple wooden Doric/Tuscan porch, reflecting the humbler function of their contents. Old photos from a 1937 architectural survey show a fantastically painted trompe l'oeil interior with rococo paneling and floral designs expressed entirely in paint. Treatments like this were once relatively common in wealthier homes, but frequently disappeared as fashions changed and were wallpapered over. I'd love to see color images of the interior, if it survives. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Lanaux House, New Orleans, LA

The Lanaux House, New Orleans, LA, 1884

The Lanaux House, built for the family whose daughter inherited the nearby Johnson house is a late Italianate built in 1884, designed by James Freret, a significant Louisiana architect. Plan-wise, the house is somewhat of a conundrum. It takes as its base the typical side hall plan that follows the Porch Facade type, but completely obscures the rectangular design with the diagonal tower on the left, which houses the main entrance and features elongated windows, and another diagonal box window projection on the right, leaving only one flat surface on the front. This gives the house an interesting undulating appearance which requires adjustments to the porches so that they connect to the projections. Unlike the brick and plaster houses we have seen on Esplanade Avenue, this home is faced in clapboard. It also features a tall hip roof that accommodates a French style dormer window. Later than the other Greek Revival designs, the house has an expected Corinthian columned porch on the second floor, while the first floor has segmental arches with keystones, clunky brackets, and incised Eastlake carving in the spandrels, supported by Corinthian columns. The segmental arch is reflected in all the first floor windows and entrances around the house. The sides of this house are excessively plain, but the paneled cornice runs around the entire house, forming a clear cap on the facade with thick s-scroll brackets. I find the plan interesting, since it invites one into the house as if it's enfolding a visitor as well as the emphasis placed on the large central windows. The house is now the Melrose Mansion bed-and-breakfast, and a visit to their site offers several views of the modernized interior.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Freeman Annabelle House, New Orleans, LA

The Freeman Annabelle House, New Orleans, LA. 1847
This home, at the opposite end of Esplanade (1014) is known as the Freeman Annabelle house, though little seems to be known about the original occupants. As I mentioned, this is a classic New Orleans Italianate/Greek Revival hybrid, and indeed is a basic vernacular type in the city. This type, which I'll call the Porch Facade type, consists of a typical side hall plan and has a two story Greek revival porch, usually with Corinthian or Ionic columns, a deep Greek Revival cornice with brackets, and Greek style window surrounds. This house is a good introduction to this type, featuring flat windows with eared, molded surrounds, a segmental arched door with pilasters, Corinthian double columned porches which cover both levels of the facade, and a tall Greek Revival entablature with pairs of long s and c scroll brackets interrupting runs of smaller brackets. The facade is plastered with brick painted the same color on the sides. An interesting feature on this house, as can be seen below, is the lacy rococo cresting on the left side that hangs down from the cornice forming a fringe on the roof and running around the large projecting bay with a second story ironwork porch. Incongruously, the ironwork on the front of the house is Gothic in form, showing the mixture of cast iron styles displayed on the same house. Often there will be classical, rococo, romantic (very vegetal), and gothic thrown together to form one eclectic composition. The house is now condos.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Charles Johnson House, New Orleans, LA

Charles Johnson House, New Orleans, LA. 1876

I have been absent for some time; I've had plenty to work on in my career. My resolution for this new year, though is to post more regularly, so I am starting out with one of New Orleans' grand streets, Esplanade Avenue. When dealing with the Italianate architecture of New Orleans, which is well known, a few characteristics come to mind:

1. In southern architecture, a lot more ironwork survives, particularly in porches and sometimes in brackets themselves. This ironwork once was ubiquitous in the US and much more common in different regions, but the scrap metal drives for WWI and WWII, weather decay, and changing tastes encouraged its removal in more northern cities, even from cemeteries. In New Orleans, where it never really went out of fashion given its presence in French and Spanish design, it was even more common than elsewhere and was preserved, giving us a nice image of the range and decorative possibilities of this architectural form.

2. In the south, one often finds a much stronger blending of styles, especially Greek Revival. You often see a double height columned Greek porch with brackets superimposed onto the entablature. Traditional Greek elements like eared window surrounds, anthemia and palmettes derived from the design books of Minard Lafever, and battered moldings (where the sides flare outward) are common in New Orleans Italianates. Additionally, many urban houses of the south display more refined Anglo-Italianate designs, to which residents may have been predisposed by the strong European influences, both continental and British, throughout the south.

3. One of the most popular facade treatments in the south is plaster, another strong European influence, since most French and Spanish colonial architecture was faced in plaster that was perfect for battling the moist weather. Since humidity and wetness cause mortar to decay more quickly, plaster provided a useful protective coat over brickwork that help preserve the structure and was maintained in the south while many plastered buildings in the north have lost that coating. Frequently, we will see the plaster scoured (etched) to look like blocks of stone.

4. Plan-wise, most houses in New Orleans were built on narrow lots, leading to the adoption of side-hall and rowhouse plans that had a narrow front facade and a very wide side facade (the "shotgun" house). This left much less space for decorative towers and unique plans, although there are some of examples of these in the more spacious, suburban Garden District. Wealthier New Orleans houses frequently feature a courtyard behind the house with connected outbuildings that housed horses, slaves, kitchens, and domestic spaces.

The Charles Johnson house, built in 1876 at 571 Esplanade, is an excellent and refined example of the side-hall/rowhouse plan. Esplanade Avenue itself was a major 19th century prestige street in New Orleans. In a city strong divided between anglophone and creole society, Esplanade served as the society street for wealthy Creoles, at the edge of the French Quarter, while wealthy anglophones settled St. Charles Avenue as a prestige street. The house has a plastered facade painted an appropriate grey to simulate stone, although like many houses, the sides are left unplastered, a cost saving measure. All the windows and entrances are segmental arched and are graced by curving hood moldings enlivened by rococo anthemia. The brackets are simple c-scroll and alternate between longer brackets connecting runs of shorter brackets. The facade itself displays Anglo-Italianate raised panel quoins at the corners. What especially caught my eye on this house, however, was how the iron porch (very lacy and delicate) was articulated; rather than merely capping it with a tent roof, this house adds a strong wooden cornice to the porch with intersecting arched pediments. The tympana (the hollow space created by a pediment) are graced with delicate sets of triple leaves in a crown like pattern. This makes this house a particularly bold example of a New Orleans Italianate, since the porch comes off as such a strong element. Additionally, the house is brought together by its heaviness, the thickness of the moldings and the depth of the eave. In a city like New Orleans with lots of houses vying for the passer-by's attention, competition must have been fierce to make a distinctive contribution.

The house, as the story goes, was left by Johnson to his secret lover Marie Lanaux, the daughter of his business partner. It is from this woman that the current bed and breakfast that owns the house derives its name. Take a look at their website for more information and interior views of the house, which is furnished with some fantastic Renaissance Revival pieces appropriate to the house's age. The decorators have definitely created a bric-a-brac filled authentic interior that matches the house very well.