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Row Houses

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1890, Charles Gessford. 638–642 East Capitol St. NE
  • Row Houses

One of the finest and most prolific architectbuilders on Capitol Hill was Charles Gessford, who is best known for his earlier Philadelphia Row (see CN28). This row is one of four distinguished later projects, including the 200 block of 11th Street SE, 200–208 10th Street SE (see CN29), and 824–832 D Street SE (see CN31), adjacent to Philadelphia Row. Much more numerous and distinctive than Gessford's Philadelphia Row were single houses and rows in the Queen Anne style. They are confined to two- or three-story buildings with massive bays, usually square but occasionally alternating with round ones. The maximum effect of a richly textured surface is achieved for the least cost by extensive use of corbeled brick and molded terracotta. High, rusticated stone basements are accompanied by large, solid entry stairs; each floor above is demarcated by several thin bands of corbeled brick or ornamental terracotta moldings, as are intermediate zones established by the segmental arches over doors and windows. Inset corbeled brick panels between stories were common, but the most distinctive use of corbeling was on the beveled corners of the hays and the cornices, which recall Romanesque corbel tables. The best examples have gable roofs, but they extend only the depth of the bays. Stained-glass transom windows with colors so deeply saturated as to be almost opaque were set above tall, narrow double windows often divided by a split turned post. Builders such as Gessford consulted published sources, for example A. J. Bicknell's Wooden and Brick Buildings with Details (1875), but they often freely invented their own combinations of forms and details.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Row Houses", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-CN19.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 255-256.

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