Friday, October 28, 2011

Victorian Architecture: Exotic Elements, The Onion Dome

The Victorian had a love of the exotic and often applied those exotic elements from their travels to their homes.

The rarest of the rare are onion domes. While widely seen in Easter Europe and Russia and parts of the "Ottoman Empire". The Onion Dome essentially has the look of an onion bulb. There were many variants of this design but they all had one thing in common. They were hard to build. Often requiring the services of a boatbuilder who understood the complex curved framing  to build one. They were often prone to leak as well after a period of time. many were simply 'lopped off' and today they are an even rarer site.

Perhaps the best known is the Morey Mansion located in Redlands California. It was built in 1890 for the then extravegant sum of 20,000.00. It is well known for its elaborate onion dome.

Another one of these rare birds can be seen in Minneapolis Minnesota. The Bardwell House didnt start out like this but was the result of a later remodel when the two onion dome structures were added along with other "moorish' detail., this redesign was done by Norwegian born architect Carl Struck . It was added to the national register in 1984.

Interestingly commercial buildings were treated to these exotic treatments as well. The fire house in Aurora, Illinois had this delightful onion dome on it. During WW2 it was lopped off as part of a metal drive.

 This building was seriously deteriorated before local residents took up the cause and restored it back (Including the onion dome) and today it is a firehouse museum.

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