Although not academically trained as a designer, Samuel Edmonston is listed on the building permit as the architect of the Susan Shields House, with his uncle, Charles Edmonston, as the builder. They had been the contractors for numerous large Washington projects. One was H. H. Richardson's Hay-Adams house (1884–1886), which probably accounts for their use of Richardsonian motifs specifically derived from that great house, also set on a corner. The corner location of the Shields house allowed for a variety of bay designs at its three visible facades. Above a low, red sandstone base the rectangular windows, cut directly into the walls, are single bays grouped in pairs to form a tripartite composition. The subtle decorative patterns on the brick walls are created by various bonds, hexagonal tiles, and the corbeled cornice. The low, sandstone, Syrian-arched porch is divided into two sections; the front part projects in front of the wall, but the inner porch is embedded within the volume of the building, an interesting interpretation of Richardson's deep entrances. Although the Shields house does not approach the design sophistication of its model, it shows how Richardson's influence filtered into mainstream American vernacular architecture.
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Susan Shields House
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