Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Stephen H. Farnam House, Oneida, NY

The Stephen Farnam House, Oneida, NY. 1862 Photo: Doug Kerr

Photo: Carol
The Stephen Farnam house is well documented and perhaps one of the most impressive homes on Oneida's Main Street. The builder (1862), Stephen Farnam was a hardware store owner, bank president, and axe manufacturer. Subsequent owners included a suffragette and a botanist. The house seems to currently be a Dark Shadows themed bed-and-breakfast called Collinwood Inn, a fine use for a house like this. It seems the alleged haunting of the house has helped it as a business. As an architectural specimen, though, the house doesn't need any ghosts to make it worth exploring. The house follows the irregular plan, one of the fancier designs, though unlike other examples, the tower juts forth to be almost flush with the left hand projecting pavilion, which has a very shallow roof slope. The house has brick walls and excellent Oneida woodwork. The windows are mostly rectangular, though it looks like they were all segmental arched once, with simple open triangular pediments and keystones with Eastlake incised carving. The simple paneled cornice features s scroll brackets.

It's the dominance of the shouldered, pointed arch that makes this house interesting, as if the builder fetishized that shape and fit in in to give the composition unity. A shouldered arch is an arch where the curve of the arch is interrupted by a vertical projection; in this case that projection is pointed. It's a fascinating shape since it combines curves and straight angles together. The porch has rectangular openings but features the shouldered arch running inside these openings with jigsaw cut-outs, similar to the porch down the street at the Shoecraft house. The same shape unifies the triple arched windows at the top of the tower and is repeated again in the base of the tower cornice. Commendable in this house as well is the retention of both the concave roofs on the porch, bay windows, and tower along with the delicate crestings. Hopefully the house will have a nice long life.

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