Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Uri Gilbert House, Troy, NY

The Uri Gilbert House, Troy, NY. 1854
This house at 189 Second Street was built in 1854 for Charles Thompson, who again only occupied it briefly; thus, it is known for its second occupant, a stagecoach manufacturer. Charles Thompson seems to have been a peripatetic figure in Washington Park, building one house, staying in it for a few years, building another, and then relocating. This is one of the largest houses on the square being a full five bay plan row house. Uri Gilbert is infamous for his coachman, an escaped slave rescued by the citizens of Troy from being sent south. The brownstone façade is perhaps the most properly Anglo-Italianate of the bunch, with iron balconies on every window, brackets supporting moldings, a lack of framing, and an arched doorway with an exaggerated bracket/molding topper. The cornice features long brackets, architrave moldings, and interrupted dentils. The really impressive element is the stone balcony that runs across the entire façade over the rusticated basement and the sweeping central staircase with its curving balustrade. That surely cost a good amount, both in conception and upkeep, especially as the structure does not seem strongly supported. One could not get away with intruding that much on a public sidewalk today!

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