A blog devoted to American Italianate architecture of the 19th century. This blog features architectural analyses of Italianate domestic buildings with images, and historical information. My plan is to show the varieties, regional vernacular of Italianate architecture.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
'Bellevoir' the Hamilton Ormsby House, Lydon, KY
Hamilton Ormsby House, Lyndon, KY 1867 Photo: Wikimedia
The Hamilton Ormsby house was built from 1864-7 to replace an earlier house that had burned. It is one of several impressive country houses in the suburbs of Louisville. The house was originally part of a large estate of the Ormsby family; it was sold in 1912 to become the site of the Louisville Children's home and is now the caretaker's house. The house is very grand for a country estate, but that's hardly a surprise when approaching the south, where country estates served as major showplaces and objects of competitive building. The house is a five bay plan structure with a brick facade embellished with stone quoins at the corners. The central bay is emphasized by greater width, projecting out from the facade, and featuring paired tombstone windows. The house's other windows are all segmental arched, establishing a pleasant undulating rhythm to the design. The window hood moldings are uniform across the facade, with a conforming molding with deep dentils and acanthus brackets. The central bay is again distinguished by having Gothic-style drops with rosettes in the molding rather than dentils. The simple entablature, with architrave moldings, frieze windows, dentils, and double s scroll brackets finishes off the house nicely. But perhaps the most impressive feature, echoing the windows' undulation is the porch across the central three bays, formed of the laciest ironwork and curving out from the facade in a wide circle. The impossibly thin supports are topped by a rococo entablature with a fringe. This combination of thin ironwork and heavy blocky design reminds me of English Regency designs, where contrast is drawn between the porousness of the iron and the solidity of the house.