Escapee 

Circa-1890s Queen Anne in Lenox.

We live in a police state. We are encouraged to police our every possession. The Fashion Police would have you clean out half your closet every year or two and update your wardrobe. The Housing Police currently mandate granite countertops lighted by halogen pendants. The Auto Police still suggest bigger is better, damn the price of gas.

It is rare to find an old house that hasn’t been the victim of serial updates. In this house’s 100-year existence, it has been inhabited by only three families. The current state of the house suggests they all wore very sensible shoes. Sure, there are now three bathrooms (none of which is original), and the kitchen was last updated when dark wood cabinets and avocado were the height of fashion. The biggest crime on the scene is the installation of sheet paneling (probably when the avocado kitchen went in) in the kitchen and dining room. However, restitution is simple. Rip the paneling off the walls, fill the small nail holes, and the evidence is gone.
The style of the house is distinctly Queen Anne. On the outside, there is a wraparound porch with a round pavilion at the corner covered by a turreted roof. Decoratively cut cedar shakes fill the front-facing gable and dormer. The main pyramidal roof with front-facing gables and multiple dormers is conclusive proof of the style.
Inside, the ground-floor rooms all have 12-foot ceilings. Tall, four-panel doors with transoms above still have their intricately cast doorknobs and escutcheon plates. Some of the floors are narrow oak, but even they appear to be over earlier heart of pine. The front door and sidelights have very ornate leaded and beveled glass panels. There are six major rooms downstairs: living room, dining room, kitchen, and three bedrooms. There is also a large pantry, two bathrooms, and a glassed-in back porch. I would deduce that the two bedrooms in front of the dining room and kitchen were originally a double parlor connected by pocket doors, which may still be in the walls. It would be most elegant to return the house to this plan, but you would sacrifice one bedroom downstairs.
Upstairs are two rooms tucked under the multiple gables and dormers. The floors are pine, and walls and slanted ceilings are finished with tongue-and-groove beadboard. The staircase has a massive newel post at the bottom and a wide landing that overlooks the front entry with its original art-glass light fixture.
The yard is huge by today’s standards, most of it in the rear. The backyard is privacy-fenced with a single-car garage and large workshop. A white picket fence separates the rear yard from the front. The landscaping is as classically simple as the interior: There is a row of ancient boxwood at the drive, one large oak in the front yard to the west of the house, one cedar tree, and one holly. All that’s missing is a bed of peonies.
It would be a crime to buy this and knock out a lot of walls to make a modern interior. The proportions of the rooms are too fine and the architectural details too numerous. An elegant restoration of this house would not handcuff you to a period Victorian interior. If you dream of escaping a boring interior, minimal furnishings within these grand rooms might set you free.

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