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Eleanor H. Farr Cottage

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c. 1905. 937 East Shore Rd.

Although it conforms to the Conanicut Park paradigm, the Eleanor H. Farr Cottage is unique, what might be described as all shape and no style, and the shape rather crazy (but with some fascinating architectural implications). Above the porch, what starts out to be a gable butts into a stubby, pyramidal-capped corner tower. Because they share the same clapboarded plane, they combine as a heavy, fused shape and visually overwhelm the U-shaped porch supported on spindly turned posts. The tower may have been an ad hoc alteration to contain an additional bedroom. At the end of the twentieth century, however, appreciation of such amateurish or folkish directness arrests the attention of many architects interested in the potential of the collision, fusion, and abbreviation of the conventional use of formal and symbolic elements to enhance the kind of ambiguity in perception and meaning most commonly associated with poetry. Here the coupled gable-tower form also rawly opposed the planarity of half the elevation against the aggressive three-dimensionality of the lopsided pyramidal tower cap. On first encounter, reaction tends toward some combination of dismissal, condescension, and astonishment; then suddenly (for some), a liberating “well, why not?” So the unsophisticated enlarges the sophisticated purview.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Eleanor H. Farr Cottage", [Jamestown, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 587-588.

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