Friday, May 25, 2012

Home for Roderick Burlingame

Many of the homes that Joseph Silsbee completed in Syracuse, after he left the city in 1884, were for family members.  Joseph was married to Anna Sedgwick, the daughter of well-known lawyer and banker Charles B. Sedgwick.  Anna had several sisters and each married prominent local businessmen and through those marriages, Silsbee was connected to the Hazard, Burlingame, and Tracy families.

In 1907, Sedgwick descendants began building homes in a development on their father's property, known as Sedgwick Farm.  Roderick Burlingame was the primary real estate agent for the Sedgwick Farm Land Company and a nephew of Joseph Silsbee.  He also has the distinction of founding one of the city's popular golf clubs, Drumlins.  In 1910, Syracuse papers announced that Burlingame's cousin, Ralph Silsbee, was designing a home for him that would be located in the Sedgwick Farm Development.  Ralph was in partnership with his father at the time and was the primary superintendant of construction on buildings outside of Chicago.  He oversaw construction on the first buildings at Gary, Indiana, Oberlin and in Syracuse.  Most other citations on Roderick's home note that Joseph L. Silsbee was the architect.  It is very likely that this home is a collaboration between the father and son and Ralph oversaw it's construction.      
The exterior of the home has a relatively simple form with single side gables and a central entry.  It is in keeping with the kinds of Craftsman style homes that Silsbee designed at Highland Park and elsewhere during the period.  This style of home was in vogue in the suburbs surrounding Chicago and homes of this type were designed by progressive contemporaries of Silsbee including George Maher, Tallmadge & Watson, and Dwight Perkins.  More imortant to it's locale, the home's design makes overt references to Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Homes

The simple form of the home is deceptive as the facade has many nuances that, when examined closely, reveal a relatively complex composition.  The exterior is clad in cypress clapboards.  At the second story, the clapboards are smaller, creating a horizontal band around the home.  The entry porch is located on center but the door beneath it is off-center.  The windows on either side of the porch are different sizes but are made to look similar by the placement of trim and paneling beneath the ones on the left of the entry.

Roderick Burlingame's home backs up to his cousin's home. Silsbee designed that home for his daughter Margaret as well as several others in the immediate vicinity.  Each of these homes has adjoining yards and are located in a picturesque setting.  It is a truly unique group of homes with a distinct character and history.   

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