A Gothic Villa with Problems

"A doll house, just out of the box." - Emma Leigh
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remuddling, old house journal

Don’t. . . think matching paint colors makes up for an addition that nixes the porch, changes proportions, uses mismatched materials, and ruins the fenestration. (Photo: Kathy Christopher)

Gothic Horror

This house has looked this way, and been painted in these colors, since at least 1990. Located in Illinois near the Iowa border, it sits on a street of beautiful houses built in the 1870s and 1880s. There’s an old gristmill nearby. “This house stands out so much,” says our correspondent Kathy. She suspects that the house was remodeled for the rental market. (Which begs the question: how do the tenants get in?)

The house as built was a handsomely symmetrical extravaganza of European details and ornaments. The steep gables, lancet windows, tracery, and window hoods are Gothic Revival; the campanile or bell tower and cornice brackets are Italianate. Both were popular Romantic styles of the 1840s–60s. If this is the front of the house (who can tell?), there was undoubtedly once a piazza where the box is now.

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