Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home for James Shaw

Yesterday, I was asked to give architectural tours of a home in Polo, Illinois.  I like being able to introduce people to Silsbee's work first-hand and always enjoy being in north central Illinois in the fall.  Another thing I enjoy is looking at the numerous buildings designed by Silsbee and other prominent Chicago architects that dot the towns in this part of the state.  J. L. Silsbee alone has work in Polo, Dixon and Mount Carroll.   In the area, you can also find nice works by William Otis, Pond & Pond, Patton & Fisher and others.
In Mount Carroll, Silsbee designed a home for former Judge and Illinois Speaker of the House, James Shaw. It was built in 1889 and is a deceptively simple home.  It is Shingle Style with the first floor clad in clapboards and upper floor and roof originally in shingles.  All of the windows are punched openings with a simple frame but no discernible header or sill.   A simple curved lintel with attached columns frames the open entry porch and simple brackets are arranged around the eaves as an ornament.  The bracket arrangement is reminiscent of a motif he used on other buildings, particularly the Comfort Station he designed at Lincoln Park.
The massing of the home is simple.  The predominantly rectangular box of a home sits on a low stone base and is capped with a hipped roof.  It has an open porch and solarium on the south and large turret in the center of the home, on the north.  The Brackets and tongue & groove board at the eave continue around the turret in a radial pattern.

The hipped roof contains a third story and is punctuated by squat dormers.  The current roofing is not original but the molded copper finials at the crest are still intact.  The simplicity of the home is a stark contrast to the fine elaborate Italianate and Greek Revival structures that are found throughout the rest of the city.
The detailing on the home is also very simple yet elegant.  The upper story of shingles are cut so the appear to wrap the straight ninety degree corners of the home.  On the story below, the clapboard cladding is framed at the corners with wood trim in a U or C-shaped profile.  This same trim is used around the windows and at mid-height, where the clapboards meet the shingle.  At this same location, the home is encircled with a band of triangular shaped shingles.  The Shaw home is fine example of Silsbee's Shingle Style architecture and an example of the high-quality architect-designed structures found throughout rural Illinois.        

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