Sunday, April 17, 2016

'Fern Hill' the Henry Pratt McKean House, Germantown, PA

'Fern Hill' Germantown, PA. 1852 Photo: Philadelphia Suburban Homes

Photo: The Homes of America: Some Pennsylvania Homes
The Henry McKean house shows Notman working in someone else's plan for once. This house was built in 1852 for a wealthy Philadelphian who had a typical Victorian love of rare plants. His house was noted for showcasing his collection of uncommon flowers and shrubs. The Victorians had so much time on their hands! Here, Notman decided to use Richard Upjohn's double tower plan which we just finished looking at. Unlike many of the examples we saw, Notman decided to alter Upjohn's detailing to a greater degree than many of those who followed his design so closely they used the same ornament. Notman has raised the tower by an extra story and added pairs of tombstone windows which are authentically Romanseque in their distribution, though he has kept the arched first floor windows and second floor balcony and wooden awning. In the central bay, he has switched out the triple arched second floor windows with tombstone windows again, providing an as yet unseen variant. The tower to the left, squatter than Upjohn's departs the most in its first floor bay window, second floor arched windows, and third floor attic windows (oddly rectangular, they look like some weird Greek Revival invasion). Notman seems to have returned here to single brackets with no strong entablature. The side porch, a bit hard to make out, looks huge and seems to feature large shallow arches, something we have not seen. Unfortunately, this house as well was torn down in the 1950s. 

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