Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Combien de maisons?

Driving down Sidney today on the way back from Tower Grove Park. The fire department had Sidney closed off, forcing me to detour and, voila, find this doozie.

Very strange double wide unit, 3 story mansard to the left, sans mansard to the right. Originally, was this one house? Two houses? Where did the other mansard roof go? What's with the portion of the sad building that juts out? Does the decorative detail at the top continue all the way across? John and I debated this.

He says/she says:

John: This was two buildings joined by bricking the gangway that would have existed between the two buildings. It looks like there are side entrances so it's unlikely that center door is the original. Also, the foundations are different and there appears to be brick 'seams' on either side of the center window, suggesting the center section was bricked in later.

Kristan: I think it was a huge house with one mansard roof and for some reason (tornado?) the right side came off. It was rebuilt with just one side. After all, why would you brick in a gangway and add a second floor? WHat do you gain from that, another 20 square feet? And if the early homeowners bricked over a gangway, wouldn't the brick be much, much different? I also think the frieze above the windows continues across the entire building.

At Ohio and Shenandoah. I guess I could look up the city records or look closer at the basement level. What do you think?


  1. I'm with HE. The friezes, the corbelling, and parapet configuration on the mansard/gangway addition suggest that the work was done by/for the mansard prop. I would guess that this was done not more than 10-20 years after this house--probably circa 1880--was built, as the style of the addition is almost exactly the same as the main body of the original. The nabe may have had a mansard, but, well, they sometimes were removed, for various reasons: disrepair/expense of repair, lack of need, etc. As for the brick not being too dissimilar, as I noted above, the eras in which the original and additional construction occurred probably overlapped. Hence, as there were still numerous brick-making operations extant in the City, it wouldn't have been too difficult to find similar brick, or even the very same, from one of the manufacturers. Also, I have noticed that the brickworkers from that era were considerably more talented and skilled than today's, union or nonunion. Oh, and the dentil-layed frieze and molded brick on the right-hand building are completely different, in addition to the parapet having undergone some reconstruction sometime in the history of the house. Perhaps after the original mansard (?) was removed? "After all, why would you brick in a gangway and add a second floor? What do you gain from that..." A front entrance. Only 15-20ft from the carriage, as opposed to 50. As well, note the brackets under the lintels on the left-hand structure. Good find. I had fun looking these two over.

  2. I looked at the 1909 sanborn and it has it already like this. The central front door looks to be a hallway, and there is a door to the gangway, not colored in, blank like, well, a gangway. The back has the same thing, a hallway with a door to the back and the door to the front, creating a tiny little hole in the middle of the house, which makes me think it didn't start that way. I'll post the screen capture on my blog, assuming it's that house.

  3. There's also a window onto the gangway in the eastern building. I think the center was added later, for whatever weird reason.

  4. So it (the second story add.) was a sort of mouse hole entrance before the door was installed? Sounds right, and appropriate for the era. I do go on in my know-it-all way, don't I? Hmm, if the entrance at the mouse hole didn't exist in 1909, then my assumption about the front door may be incorrect.

  5. There is/was a pair of houses on a farther-west block of Sidney where some past landlord conjoined the poor disparate houses by bricking in the gangway. Perhaps as ugly as these two: the houses were 4-squares with hipped roofs, so the resulting monstrosity was camel-backed. The happy ending is that a developer/neighbor restored them to their original separation and they are single-families again.

  6. Good one!

    Me thinks it was two. Married.

    ray at architecturastlouis.blogspot.com

  7. There might be a building permit record at City Hall as well. I don't know if you care that much though.