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Historic Overview

The Italianate style was one of two dominant architectural styles of the years 1850-1880, although the earliest examples in the United States date to the late 1830s and some late examples were constructed in the early 20th century. The style replicated the ornate architecture of rural Italy that was constructed centuries after the more formal architecture of classical Rome (also in Italy). In the United States, Italianate architecture included the use of new types of detailing and features. Technological changes easily separate the earlier Federal and Greek Revival styles from the Italianate (and its concurrent sister style, the Gothic Revival), including such changes as the replacement of earlier walk-in kitchen hearths with cookstoves, resulting in smaller chimneys; changes in glass making technology that increased the size of easily available window panes; and the replacement of earlier heavy timber framing with the balloon frame that was cheaper and quicker to build. With the exception of the more monumental examples, Italianate houses maintained the earlier emphasis on a simple gabled house, but with small stylistic features that provided texture to the wall surface (compared to later styles that complicated the basic form of the house). Common features of Italianate houses are small chimneys (almost always brick), the use of brackets below the eaves, larger windows than found in earlier houses, and increased detailing around doors and windows. 

The earliest example found in the Witherspoon-Jackson community is the house at 200 John Street, dating to c. 1870. Italianate details of the house include its paired brackets below the eaves, its lip lintels above the door and windows, and its small brick chimney. The door is located near the northeast corner, which suggests that the interior of the house features a side hall plan. Of the later Italianate style houses in the community, one that stands out is the twin at 33-33.5 Lytle Street, which is notable for its front porch with turned columns and intricate spandrel-like brackets.


Historic Resources

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