Monday, April 11, 2016

'Hollybush' the Thomas Whitney House, Glassboro, NJ

'Hollybush', Glassboro, NJ. 1849 Photo: JasonW72
Photo: Wikimedia
The Thomas Whitney house, built in 1849 for Thomas Whitney, the owner of one of the most profitable glass companies in South Jersey (Glassboro!), cannot be perfectly identified with John Notman, but its early date coupled with its Notman-esque stylistic features means that if he didn't design it, he surely influenced it very heavily. I'm minded to say it is a Notman product. Whitney commissioned the house after a Grand Trip tour that included Italy; what better souvenir than a rustic Italian farmhouse? Unlike Notman's other houses, this follows a more straightforward, irregular plan. Perhaps the publication of Downing's Cottage Residences in 1842 with a similar plan encouraged Notman to use it. The use of local stone, probably at one point plastered, is a big Notman feature as well as gives the house the desired rustic Italian effect. The spare use of decoration is a typical characteristic of Notman and early Italianates. Here decoration is confined to the use of spindly ironwork for the porches with particularly oversized concave tent roofs and wooden awnings on iron brackets. Additionally, laciness is seen on the balconies. The overhang over the front door is a particularly beautiful and Notman feature. A highly elongated shallow gable is supported on three beams with interlacing arches; the whole rests on, you guessed it, spindly iron brackets, a rarity. The strangest feature of the house is the eave, which is far wider than any in a typical Italianate, and the eave inclines upward, as can be seen on the tower. This construction has the effect of reducing the visual impact of the beam brackets, making them almost invisible underneath the huge overhang.

The house was sold by the Whitneys in 1915 and promptly bought by what would become Rowan University as the president's house. It's well-known primarily because it hosted a Soviet-American summit in 1967 over the Six Day War. Interiors can be seen here.

Photo: Wikimedia

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