Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Second Empire style house

Second Empire style house

While investigating another house today, I came across this Second Empire style one, at 5814 Lexington Avenue, in Cleveland. I suspect that underneath the aluminum siding, there's a rather sharp looking house. Lexington Avenue was one of the first streets put through the area when residential development began, so the housing stock is going to be older and more interesting than usual.

107-20-050

Houses in the Second Empire style are usually much larger. This one is about 2100 square feet - not small, but not the mansions one usually found in this style. The only other one that I can recall in this area is the one pictured here, which came from a property card photo from the Cuyahoga County Archives. The house in this picture, which was in the Hough neighborhood, has been demolished.

This historic photo provides us with some clues as to what the house on Lexington Avenue might have looked like. The porch might have wrapped around, which would provide some visual balance to the structure. The gables on the dormers are not what we would expect, which leads to the question as to whether they were built like that originally or whether this was some accommodation to deal with leaking. Underneath the aluminum trim on the dormers there is surely some interesting trim. The windows were likely two-over-two and almost certainly had some sort of interesting trim.

Second Empire style house

Here, we can see a bit of the slate roof exposed. This level of ornate finish was likely continued through the rest of the house.

Note how, from this angle, the house seems to mirror the one in the historic photograph.

Second Empire style house

We can see here that the foundation is sandstone block.

I have a hard time providing an exact date for this house. We can be sure that the house was built before 1881, because it is pictured in Hopkins' atlas published that year. The house isn't shown on the Hopkins 1858 map of Cuyahoga County, so we can say that it was built after that date. Very little was built during the Civil War, so we have a probable date of construction of between 1865 and 1881. My gut leans toward the middle of that date range.

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