The Ackerson Company Houses

Mar 13, 2013

The Ackerson Company offered prospective buyers at least six pre-designed house models, as seen by these renderings from their brochure. Three were actually built on Curtiss Place and further research may uncover variants of others. Architect James L. Burley, who is mentioned in the specifications for House pattern # 5, probably was the company architect for Roosevelt Park. He began his career in town planning and later was widely known for his work on schools, such as Lehigh University.

The house at 18 Curtis Place incorporates elements typical of the Colonial Revival, such as the symmetrical placement of window openings, the prominent, centrally placed entrance and the Chippendale railing of the front porch, with Craftsman style elements, such as the wide over-hanging eaves and exposed rafters of the main hipped roof, the porch and the dormer roof. The asymmetrical porch wrapped along the side is somewhat unusual.

The side-facing gambrel roof of the house at 31 Curtis Place is commonly associated with a sub-type of the Colonial Revival, the “Dutch Colonial,” so called primarily for the use of the gambrel roof form. In this example, however, the design is strongly influenced by the Craftsman style, particularly in the use of the roof as the dominant feature of the house. The roof extends to incorporate a porch at the main façade, and features paired, gabled dormers set into the gambrel roof. The solid, shingled balustrade, and paired columns with shingle-covered piers at either end, is typical of the Craftsman style. The entrance is on the side.

The intersecting gambrel roofs of 34 Curtis Place indicate a continued popularity of elements from the Shingle Style, a pre-cursor to the Colonial Revival, popular in the last decades of the 19th century. The Palladian window and broken pediment are typical elements of the Colonial Revival. The side-facing gambrel roof of the house extends to cover a colonnaded porch.

(Unbuilt 1) This exuberant example of a Tudor Revival design includes the use of multiple materials for the wall surfaces. The picturesque “half-timbering” of the walls express an interest in medieval forms. The intersecting, steeply pitched gable roofs have prominent bargeboards. The Tudor arch is used in the recessed central entrance and in the openings of the porch. The base of the house is brick.

(Unbuilt 2) This is essentially a Four Square house, with an eclectic combination of Craftsman elements, such as the low-pitched roof, wide, over-hanging eaves and exposed rafters. The stucco covered walls and grouping of windows within blind arches is vaguely Mediterranean.

(Unbuilt 3) This is a variant of the Tudor Revival Style. The steeply pitched roof, with intersecting parapeted gables, has no projecting eaves. The flat surfaces of the stucco-covered walls, with label mould over the windows, give the appearance of a stone building. The side porch has Tudor arch openings.

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