Archive for the ‘Italianate’ Category

The Cameron House in La Crescent, Minnesota

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I travel through La Crescent every now and then when we want to visit family. It is a great little Mississippi River town in southeast Minnesota, just across the river from La Crosse, Wisconsin. The area was founded in 1851 by Peter Cameron and his wife, who later died in 1855.

The Italianate house, known as the Cameron House, was built in 1871 by Daniel J. Cameron, the younger brother of Peter Cameron by 16 years. Mr. Cameron was a railroad contractor who moved to the area from New York around 1859. According to history, Mr. Cameron was well known for digging through mountains ( for railroads, that is) in California, Arkansas, and Ontario.

429 -435 S Seventh St, La Crescent, MN

I was able to find a photo taken in 1974. At some point in time the porch was enclosed, as seen in the photograph, but now it looks like one of the recent owners has brought the porch back to its original state, removing the screens.. They have also done a fantastic paint job on the home, highlighting the architectural details. The cupola on the roof is one of the largest I have seen.

I found an interesting read on a website which gives a history of Emma Eastman, wife of La Crescent founder, Peter Cameron. In 1859, Daniel Cameron, brother of Peter, came to the area to call on Emma regarding some deeds from his brother’s estate. Apparently, as the story goes, Emma didn’t like what he had to say and took two shots at him. The first went through his coat, and the second shot off his little finger.

Historic Italianate Home in Stillwater

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

911 Sixth Ave S, Stillwater, MN

Known as the John Moodhe House, this fine representation of Italianate architecture was constructed somewhere between 1878 -1882 for the sum of $700. While brick construction is not common for local Italianate homes, the brick does allow for architectural details not found in wood sided homes. At the corners of the home are prominent quoins and under the windows are lentils. The arched windows, brick window crown, and low pitched roof are some other characteristics of the style. The only thing really missing are large decorative brackets under the eaves, but it looks like the home never had them.

The house was sold a year ago for $504,000. It has a little over 2700 square feet, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms.

Historic Italianate Home in Farmington, MN

Friday, November 7th, 2008

In Farmington MN, there is a great example of the Italianate historic home style. Located at 521 Oak St, the home sits on a large corner lot and was built around 1880. It looks to be in pretty good condition, retaining the original brackets and window hoods, not to mention the widow’s walk.

Minnesota Historic Architecture – Italianate

Monday, January 14th, 2008

To continue with my series on Historic Architecture in Minneapolis and St Paul, some of the most beautiful examples of fine craftsmanship can be found in Italianate homes.


Built between 1840 – 1885

The Italianate style is reported to have begun in England as part of the Picturesque movement. Over the years, Italian Villas, as some call them, went from farmhouse informal to formal grandeur. Obviously, as the name infers, Italian architecture from ancient Rome led a helping hand to the popularization of key architectural details.

There are many details in the design of Italianate that make it easily identifiable. One of the easiest is the heavy, large brackets that hang under the eaves. They are usually ornate and arranged singly or in pairs. Every home was built with at least two stories, and the style is predominately found in the Midwest and some in the Northeast.

Another obvious feature is the square copula that sits atop the home. The roofs are usually low pitched. Unfortunately, copulas tend to be neglected and they begin to leak, so most Italianate homes no longer sport this eye catching feature. The cupola shown below is the only remaining one in Stillwater, which has numerous examples of the style.

The decline of the style began with the panic of 1873, and once consumer confidence returned, new styles like the Queen Anne Victorian were becoming popular.

I have put together a slide show of historic homes in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Stillwater, Red Wing, and Lansing, Iowa, that are prime examples of Italianate architecture. Two details you will see throughout are the arched windows and the window hoods above each window.

View the first post in this series on Second Empire architectural design.