Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The William Duncan House, Towanda, IL

Duncan House, Towanda, IL. 1869
Photo: Ron Frazier

Photo: Jenny Addison

Photo: Wikimedia
The William Duncan house, built in the countryside of Illinois for a successful livestock dealer in 1869, is an oddly sited, sophisticated example of Italianate design on the prairie. It survived the years with few modifications but was eventually abandoned and vandalized. The house is currently being restored by interested owners who are committed to bringing it back to its former state. It is a fascinatingly designed specimen of the double tower design that departs from Upjohn's precedent and presents two distinct facades. The front fa├žade is a typical double tower plan, although the towers are of an identical height and projection, unlike other examples of the plan. The back of the house follows the pavilion plan. The house has impressive and sophisticated Anglo-Italianate details for its location in the countryside. The first and second floor windows are stacked, with round arched windows on the first floor and segmental arched windows on the second. These are connected by projecting brick or stone frames with simple moldings and keystones. The towers have triple arched windows on the top stage, while the back pavilions have round windows in the pediments. The corners have nicely done quoins of molded brick. The central bay on the front of the house has a porch on the first floor of brick with segmental and round arched openings flanking it with triple arched windows above, while the back has a deep two story classical porch. The cornice is simple with s scroll brackets closely spaced on a deep eave. I cannot say how surprising it is to see such a design essentially in the middle of nowhere. Images of the interior, with a lofty elliptical staircase can be seen here and here.

Photo: Ron Frazier
Photo: Kathy McEldowney

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