Whenever a property is nominated for the National Register of Historical Places under Criteria C (its architectural significance), a nomination form must describe what makes the structure or district significant architecturally as well as describe its existing architectural features accurately. These components allow an approving body to see the relevant significance of the property and accept it on the National Register. The first part is usually a short statement describing the elements of the property or district that make it significant from an architectural point of view. The second part is a more detailed breakdown of the specific architectural elements of the property (or properties in a district), which help prove the general significance statement provided earlier.
For example, in my Riverside Drive Historic District project which I should be wrapping up this month and submitting for initial review, I used the following for my preliminary architectural significance statement:
The Riverside Drive Historic District is eligible under Criteria C for its architecture. The district represents popular home styles from its era (1900’s-1940’s) and the majority of the styles present are no longer built. Therefore, its homes serve as a snapshot in time, showcasing the many architectural styles and types used in creating the suburban American home in the early 20th century. After this period, suburban housing styles changed and new popular styles, including the ranch home, dramatically changed the look of the American suburbs. The district meets all of the requirements for the “Historic Residential Suburbs in the United States, 1830-1960 Multiple Property Documentation Form.”
I then picked out district properties to detail in my nomination that would show these common architectural themes or interesting styles dating from the time that the Riverside Drive neighborhood was predominantly constructed (1900’s-1940’s). In many cases, this included houses that were largely identical in style and form and which were built side by side (such as can be seen in the provided examples below). Including these clusters of like structures shows that the district’s architecture is significant because these architectural forms were emblematic of the era in which they were built and not single, one off housing styles. However, I also made certain to detail several properties that helped to support my nomination under Criteria A (historical significance). For example, I am including architectural descriptions for several multi-family properties (doubles, predominantly) located along the old streetcar lines along both 27th Street and Harding. Including these properties helps to support the area’s historical significance as a “streetcar suburb” as multi-family homes are a feature commonly associated with such neighborhoods.
Here are a few examples from my preliminary architectural descriptions with a basic photo of the properties:
2114, 2116 and 2120 N. Harding Street
The one and a half story house at 2116 N. Harding Street was built circa 1920, and features a red brick foundation, wooden cladding, asphalt shingle roof, and a simulated stone front façade. It has a side gabled medium pitched roof with a large central gable dormer protruding from the front that contains two double-hung windows, each sash of which contains a single pane of glass. Interestingly, the roof slope changes near the bottom on the front of the structure, becoming a shed roof extension that covers the full width porch. The home’s style is reminiscent of a Craftsman side gable in basic form but it lacks many of the traditional Craftsman details, including exposed eaves, rafter tails, false beam ends and large front porch columns. In fact, its open front porch, instead, features common decorative metal supports and railings. The house does feature a single deck bay window on its south side near the rear of the home that extends from the top of the first story down to the level of the foundation. This bay window contains a ribbon of three double-hung windows, each with a single pane per sash.
Interestingly, the houses at 2114 and 2120 are nearly identical in form. One was built c. 1915 (2114) and the other c. 1920 (2120). Both feature the same asphalt shingled, side gabled roof style with large gable dormer. Both have shed roof extensions to the front which cover their full width porches. 2114 also has a rear shed roof that extends to cover a rear addition to the home, while 2120 has a rear cross gable extension that connects to the main roofline. Both have a rusticated concrete block foundation. The house at 2114 also features an open porch with decorative metal columns and railings, but the home at 2120 has concrete half walls and concrete square plinths with rounded columns. Both feature the same south facing bay window as 2116, however 2114’s has a shed roof while 2120’s only extends a short distance below the bottom of the windows.
2149, 2153 and 2159 E. Riverside Drive
The house at 2153 E. Riverside Drive and its two neighbors at 2149 and 2159 date from c. 1917 and are superb examples of two story gable front Colonial Revival style houses. All three utilize a front gable roof featuring an interesting gambrel front extension that presents a Colonial Revival appearance. Additionally, all are nearly identical in form with the primary differences being in their porch design, fenestrations and cladding.
The house at 2153 features a rusticated concrete block foundation, wood siding, and a full width one story front porch that has been enclosed and integrated in to the home’s living space. After the porch was enclosed, it appears an extension was added to the front porch so that the home could retain an open 3/4 width porch that lies to the north side of the entry stairs (the same stairs once used to access the original front porch). The open porch now features decorative metal supports and railings whereas the original porch featured concrete block half walls and square concrete plinths and columns. These original walls and columns are still present in the enclosed porch façade. The home also features a triple set of double-hung, single pane windows (one large window in the center and two narrower windows to each side) in the upper story front gambrel extension, which in this home is stucco clad with some half timbering.
The house at 2149 also features a rusticated concrete block foundation but is clad in red brick and has no front porch. Instead, it has a small (1/4 size) north side gable entry porch with a glazed entry door and large side light that has Prairie or Craftsman style glazing. Both the first story and second story front façade incorporate a ribbon window containing three double-hung windows with single panes in each sash. As a decorative element each ribbon has a keystone centered above it.
The house at 2159 has a rusticated concrete block foundation with vinyl cladding. It possesses a centered, 2/3 width porch that has been enclosed with an exterior entry door added to its south side. The porch’s original red brick columns are still present and are integrated into the enclosed front porch. While the original porch likely featured red brick half walls, these appear to have been covered on the exterior with vinyl siding to better blend the enclosed porch with the house’s cladding. The enclosed porch features a ribbon of three double-hung windows with a single pane of glass per sash. The second story of the home’s front features a triple set of double-hung windows identical to those used on the home at 2153.