This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gingerbread houses

Gingerbread is a term for elaborate decorative work on Victorian-era houses. For the past few weeks I have been looking for examples on Rensselaer houses and have found fewer than I expected to find.

A good starting place to look for almost anything in housing architecture is on Milroy Avenue, and there are two houses there with some gingerbread. One is the McCoy house, described in the Jasper County Interim Report as, "The unique McCoy House was designed in the Victorian Gothic/Chateauesque style around 1880." Usually the gingerbread is in a gable front, but here it is in three gables.
The other Milroy house is across from Milroy Park, and though it is not a big or impressive building, it has some of the best gingerbread of any home in Rensselaer. Check out the porch.Below is a close-up of the gable gingerbread. I do not know if this is original. A lot of Rensselaer houses have lost their gingerbread because it is a chore to paint and keep up. It is possible that some of the houses that now have it have restored it to get the house back to its historic look.
Below is the David Nowels House on North McKinley. The Jasper County Interim Report says it "was built around 1890 in the Queen Anne style. It facade features a unique angular boxed bay." It does not have gable gingerbread, but some sources consider all the detail around the porch and the bay to be gingerbread. Gingerbread and the Queen Anne style often went together.
Another of Rensselaer's distinctive Queen Anne style houses is the Delos Thompson house on Front Street, which was noted in a previous entry because it seems to have a hitching post in front of it and it has a white cedar by its side. This house was extensively restored to is present grandeur about fifteen years ago by Ron Geleott and was once on a tour of Rensselaer homes. Its gable gingerbread is rather restrained.A block to the west of the Nowels House on Weston Street is a less impressive Queen Anne that has an unusual color and wonderful gingerbread.
Most houses with gable gingerbread will have it not only on the gables that face the street, but also on the gables that face the neighbors. On the north end of College is a home that has broken gingerbread in the front of the house facing College.
However, the gingerbread on the side facing Vine is still complete. This house, which is not listed in the Jasper County Interim Report, perhaps because it has been sided, also has gingerbread in the gable facing south to its neighbor.The strange gingerbread below is on a house that is near the north end of Van Rensselaer. It is also not listed in the Jasper County Interim Report, perhaps because not only has it been sided, but its windows have been changed. Notice the patterned siding behind the gingerbread. This kind of detail is very common on homes build during the Victorian period.
Finally, there is a small Queen Anne cottage near the corner of Cullen and Clark that in my opinion has the best gable gingerbread of any house in Rensselaer.
The picture below may show it better.
Most of the gingerbread houses that I found were not south of the river, as I expected, but north and northwest of the downtown. Do you know of any other examples in Rensselaer?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your collection of gingerbread is too good. It is thorough, and your photos will help us look up, not down. Keep this collection.