Friday, May 15, 2009

Cincinnati Architectural Review: Fairfield and Dexter

On our many architectural sight seeing travels we went to the Fairfield and DexterAve area. This small enclave of mansions is one of the "best of the best' in terms of late Victorian architecture. What surprised us was the level of restoration to the north of the area as we observed restoration going on Fairfax and Kinney as well indicating that restoration efforts are expanding in the area. While most of us would love to own a Victorian as large as the ones pictured here, there are smaller, but just as highly detailed homes just north of here that would be perfect for people who don't have the need for a 3-5000 square foot home.

We spotted this large late Victorian on Dexter that was apparently under restoration. This home has a very nice stained glass window on the second floor. Note the visual repeat of the arch of the window in the front gable of the porch as well as the dormer on the 3rd floor with its free classic arrangement of three windows with a palladian in the center. large wraparound porches were a mainstay on the later Victorian homes as people often liked to socialize "On the Veranda". The two story bay on the side is a nice feature and I would expect a fireplace on the first floor based on the raised center window.

This large stone house on the corner has some very interesting stick detailing on the upper floor gable. This home appears to have some incredible stained glass in several windows. The porch railing is a departure from the more simple baulister design seen or as might be the case on a later home like this concrete balusters. The 'fretwork" above the railing is a pleasant surprise. It is a more "beefy' design than the earlier lighter looking fretwork found on houses built in the 1880's. The stone columns as opposed to wood date this as a later built Victorian. An exceptionally well balanced home and P.S (there was a "for sale by owner" sign in the front yard!)

On the other corner and hidden somewhat by trees was this impressive Brick mansion with another large wrap around porch. This house has similar incredible detailing but leaned much more to free classic elements . Once again we observed high end stained glass. My "only" criticism of this house was the very bright white trim. This house would benefit by repainting the white a more subdued tan and there is enough details that are hard to see that would really "pop" with a couple of trim colors added. Right over the main entrance is a paneled upper trim detail over the entrance, was an interesting, if somewhat unexpected detail. It creates a somewhat heavy, but non-the-less grand porch entrance but I had to wonder what the motivation of the architect was and this may be situation where the original owner has a specific "idea' in mind and the architect followed orders.

This house was really a surprise architecturally as it is a brick first floor with shingled second and third floors. Of greatest interest was the three story tower over the entry. The front porch suffers from a1950's wrought iron columned porch and new porch post are clearly in order. This is nice house that would be better with the right paint job. The white painted brick with the light green above makes the 2nd and 3rd floors seem to "float" in the air. This house would be more impressive if the first floor were repainted "brick' and the green was darkened by at least two values. Instead of white trim the trim should be sage or better yet a ochre/tan. Here is a case of a great house with the wrong paint colors. It needs a more 'formal pallette".

Lastly my favorite house. This impressive center hall Brick Queen Anne is an exercise in restrained design. The double paired columns on either side paired with the limestone base has an elegant "bow design" on the center. the second floor has a very impressive and balance window design with a stained glass palladian window that brings the eye upward leading one to the third floor dormer which is precisely located directly centered. The right side front gable balances the turret on the right (hard to see because of the tree). The most impressive architectural detail for me. Has to be this curved glass "conservatory/porch" on the side of the house. This is truly over the top features and its amazing it is still there after all these years as this was typically the first thing to go when a house was"modernized" in later years. I can see this filled with exotic ferns and Lily's the Victorians were so fond of.I just wish they would add one more color to make the wood panels more visual. Just simply one of the best houses of the genre.


Dan said...

Nice tour! That's a great little area, close to the huge houses on Madison and some nice homes on streets like Annwood.

Anonymous said...

Cincinnati is also know for its great stained glass windows. Referred to as" Third Street" windows because there were a number of window makers on Third Street. The very nice designs also set them apart.

If memory serves me correctly, the last house you show with the enclosed porch, at one point had been in really bad shape - maybe condemned. I'm sure someone historically connected could tell you about it or maybe someone at CPA.

Thanks for the tour!