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The Italianate

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The Greek Revival style moved westward into the Trans-Appalachian states with early 19th century migration. Ohio is rich with examples, as are Indiana and Illinois. The style weakens — that is, to say, the copies of copies of copies become less convincing — as it moves into Wisconsin and Minnesota, though you may be offended by that observation if you’re from one of the latter states. Look not for it in the Dakotas; it’s not here.

The Greek Revival of the “Federal” period was followed by the Italianate, which you will find in the Dakotas and pretty much all the Great Plains States. [Remember, Texas is always an exception.] This was a style of the Civil War years and following, and one, therefore, which was dependent on the transition from hand carpentry to the increased use of power tools. Italianate design requires a good deal of wood trim but, happily, most of it can be produced with a jig saw and a lathe.

Italianate buildings can be found from Hartford to Hannaford and New Orleans to New Ulm. From farmhouses to courthouses. It is interpreted in a variety of materials from brick and stone to wood and stucco; including metal from cast iron and galvanized to wrought. And combinations of those materials, colorful combinations. I’ve always felt comforted by the Italianate, though without any solid reason for that comfort. I’ve also never tried to design anything in the style, until now.

This has been a long lean period in the Agincourt blog, largely because I’m deep in the writing of a manuscript on another project topic, so I didn’t want July to pass without at least a couple posts and the Original Fennimore County courthouse suggested itself — one of those cases where a sequence of buildings (courthouses one, two, and three) were designed in a different order. So now he time has come to imagine what that first seat of county government looked like and why it became outgrown so quickly.

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