Sunday, February 7, 2016

'Oaklands' the Lewis Maney House, Murfreesboro, TN

'Oaklands' Murfreesboro, TN. 1860 Photos: Brent Moore

Although I put a date on this house of 1860, I might have equally put 1820 or 1830. Like many plantation houses, Oaklands started life as a small two room house that accrued additions, ells, and wings. When Dr. Maney built his original home, he was in effect a settler, but after his wife died and he retired, his son Lewis took control of the home. Lewis added the Italianate facade in 1860, designed by local architect Richard Sanders, turning the old settler's home into a fashionable mansion, even if the Italianate design was more of a false front hiding a complex past. After the Civil War, the Maneys struggled to hold on with dwindling finances and eventually sold Oaklands to a string of owners. It was abandoned, vandalized, and threatened in the 1950s, but was bought and restored; it is now a house museum.

The house is a five bay plan with a strongly projecting central pavilion, The windows are rectangular with simple flat hood moldings crowned with elaborate rococo flowers and vines. The central window is arched with thick Venetian tracery, so common in other Italianates in Tennessee. The simple cornice has s scroll brackets. What really distinguishes this house is its impressive porch which spans beyond the entire front of the facade. It's a simple Italianate porch with an interesting rhythm of square pillars and arched sections with brackets. As part of the illusory nature of the redesign, from a purely frontal view it looks like it wraps around the entire house, but when one looks from a side view, the porch's dimensions seem rather ridiculous and the design's illusion becomes clear, especially against the earlier 19th century side facades. HABS documented the building in the 1930s before it was vandalized, including several interior views, below.




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