Throwback Thursday: Popular Italianate Architecture in Ripon from 1854 to 1880 | New


Italianate homes in America are referred to as “Victorian era” architecture, meaning they were built during the reign of Queen Victoria of England from 1837 to 1901.

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An example of Italianate architecture is located at 648 Lincoln St., which still commands much of the square footage. Top left is a photo from 1965, while top right is a photo taken in the late 1990s.

Italianate buildings were created by copying the romantic style of European country houses and estates – and usually built on enough land to emphasize their connection to the outdoors, with landscaped lawns and gardens a la French.

Most Italianate homes in America were meant to be as pretty as oil paintings set in bucolic landscapes.

And it is reputed that there was a time in Ripon when families who built local Italianate houses tried to “Italianize” each other, which means to build and live in more Italianate houses. larger than their socio-economic peers.

And since most houses of this period had servants’ or servants’ quarters, Italianate houses are known for servants’ quarters which had their own special staircases, separate living quarters and accesses attached to rooms. main houses.

Design attributes

Throughout Ripon, Italianate homes share some of the same designs and materials.

Most are built of brick, but several are of limestone from a local quarry. Others are made of wood. They are usually two to three stories tall.

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The Italianate house at 512 Woodside Street, seen here, owned the entire 38-acre city block in 1873.

They have sloping rooflines that look almost flat – sloping just 10 degrees to create straighter lines for those viewing buildings from a distance.

Almost all have deep soffits and roof overhangs supported by decorative corbel brackets. Their porches are larger than traditional houses. Their windows are taller and are usually rectangular or arched at the top with decorative trim or trim details.

A favorite design attribute of Italianate architecture is a cupola or gazebo at the top of the main building – a large room with windows that is functionally one of the earliest forms of air conditioning.

How does this work? When the cupola windows are opened in the summer, they release warm air which rises inside the house to the sky above, leaving cooler air throughout the rest of the house.

inner life

Italianate home interiors look very European due to the high ceilings, tall window frames, and oversized bay windows that let in plenty of light. They usually have three to four large rooms for formal entertaining, a front parlor often called “the ladies’ parlor”, a library called “the gentleman’s parlor”, a large dining room called “the heart of the house” and a games room or a smaller living room for less formal or relaxed occasions (use when visiting relatives and closer friends).

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An Italianate house is located at 515 West Thorne St.

The majority of the interiors of the Italianate houses in Ripon are Georgian, which corresponds to the lifestyles in England at the same period. And most Italianate homes in Ripon have 12- to 15-foot-high ceilings with ornate plaster designs reminiscent of European living.

These houses have stair railings, posts, posts, and steps that are often trimmed with scrollwork and wooden designs.

Entrances can be wide enough to sit on if guests or visitors have to wait for someone to come down or at the front door to greet them.

The doors are paneled and solid wood. The wooden masonry and trim around the doors, floors and windows are usually multi-layered in thickness to impress anyone staying or visiting the house. And hallways are wide enough to accommodate furniture for additional seating, or just for reading books and socializing, giving hallways a room-like appeal.

During this period, the majority of floors were wide pine planks (some tongue and groove and some simply un-notched planks), which were all the rage before hardwood floors came into fashion. in the 1900s.

Still appreciated today

Today, you can still see historic Italianate homes in Ripon at 119 and 217 Tygert St., 626 and 648 Lincoln St., 234 Elm St., 515 West Thorne St., 121 West Blossom St., 538 , 614 and 804 Watson St., 500 Eureka St., 512 Woodside Ave., 621 Ransom St. and 243 Oshkosh St., among others.

fun fact

The grand Italianate homes at 512 Woodside Street, 515 West Thorne Street and 648 Lincoln Street were once considered “country estates” when located on the outskirts of Ripon Township and offered large views because of their ownership. area around them.

For example, when first completed in 1860-1861, the Italianate house at 512 Woodside St. (originally Westside Avenue) owned the entire city block, which was 38 acres of land before being subdivided from 1899.

The Ripon Historical Society is Wisconsin’s oldest continuously operating historical society. It is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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