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Italianate Houses

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c. 1853–1857. 206, 214, 220, and 224 Ann Arbor Rd.

In southeastern Michigan the Italianate style is well represented by several houses on Ann Arbor Road as it enters Manchester from the west. Built between 1853 and 1857, they were dwellings for prosperous townspeople in this thriving agricultural village established two decades earlier. All are brick on rubble foundations and several have limestone window lintels. Basically cubical in form, the houses have strongly detailed brackets at the eaves and some have porches with classical details. The brick, produced locally, is a warm orange-red in color and is remarkably consistent in size and texture. It can also be found in the commercial buildings on Manchester's main street. Like the houses, these are exceptionally well preserved.

Manchester's houses derive from several sources. They certainly owe something to Andrew Jackson Downing's The Architecture of Country Houses (1850). Other important pattern books for Manchester's builders were Henry Cleaveland's Villages and Farm Cottages (1856), which shows two house plans similar to those in Manchester, and John Ritch's The American Architect (1849), which contains instructions for masonry, bracket details, and window designs. Downing stated that the villa style symbolized a tranquil domestic life and the good moral character of its owners, a contention that certainly contributed greatly to its widespread popularity in pre–Civil War America. Given the building technology of the time, the villa was reasonably simple to construct and with a few appropriate details could provide a note of sophistication in a country that was still largely rural. Good examples of Italianate houses can be found throughout southeastern Michigan, but these in Manchester are particularly fine.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


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Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Italianate Houses", [Manchester, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 153-153.

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