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Simmons–Manchester House

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Mid-19th century, c.; 1898. 106 Sakonnet Point Rd.

Architecturally, this is the most interesting house on Sakonnet Point Road. It began as a Greek Revival house fronted by a deep porch with Doric columns. Apparently the roof, probably dormered, came down in a long single slope over the porch. Pointed windows in the barn indicate the competing fashion for Gothic around 1850. The William Wilbor House (see entry, below) probably gives a good idea of how this one originally looked as both were apparently the work of the same builder; the Doric porch columns and pointed-arched windows in the eaves of the side elevations duplicate this combination of features in the Wilbor House.

When the Manchester family took over the house around 1898 (Josephine Manchester being a Simmons granddaughter), they radically altered it, probably breaking through the slope of the original roof to make a full two-story house out of what had been, in effect, one and one-half stories. They fronted this with an exquisitely scaled Colonial Revival view porch directly over the Greek Revival Doric below, but stretched out in the horizontal fashion preferred in the late nineteenth century. They topped the roof with a glazed polygonal cupola as fancifully “colonial” as the added upper porch, and threw out some bays on the side elevations. (In the process, they removed the Neo-Gothic windows on the sides of the house; one remains in the upper story of the adjacent barn's east elevation). It should not have worked, but somehow it did—not architecturally so much as through a happy collision of opposites demonstrating how additions in disparate styles are sometimes best handled by the risky expedient of letting each style speak for itself, with minimal effort by the designer to moderate the dialogue. The same mix of Greek Revival and late-nineteenth-century Colonial Revival occurs in interior woodwork. The mid-nineteenth-century shingled barn must date back to the original house.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Simmons–Manchester House", [Little Compton, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-LC16.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 494-494.

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