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.