310 W. Washington St.

Project Overview

Architect: Unknown         Year Built: 1906       Architectural Style: American Folk

 

Architectural Description

310 W. Washington is a quaint house built in 1906 in a vernacular style of architecture. The house’s style can be referred to as American Folk. The house was constructed of wood and this type of construction was highly influenced by railroads springing up around the country. Due to the implementation of railroads, building materials were no longer limited to what was available locally.
The two-story square house has a very simple architectural design, with a mostly unadorned facade. The house also has Classical influences, which can be seen in several details. The house has a brick foundation and cream-colored horizontal wood siding. The wood siding is actually two different sizes; the first story uses a narrower board and the second story uses a wider board. The wider boards on the upper level flare out at the bottom where they meet the smaller board on the bottom level. There is a wide wooden band running around the house which articulates the separation of the first and second levels, a traditional Classical detail. The main façade is symmetrical and the entrance is located on the center axis. Large double hung windows are placed symmetrically on either side of the door. The window surrounds are accented with green classically-inspired trim. The entrance is underneath a one-story covered porch that extends the full width of the façade. The porch is supported by simple, square Classical columns which are supporting a simple Classical entablature. The porch has a simple square post balustrade which is painted green. A balcony sits above the porch on the second level. The second level balcony also has a simple square post balustrade which is painted green. The corners of the house are articulated by wood trim. The roof is a low-pitched hip roof with a large overhanging cornice. The hip roof usually requires more complex roof framing, but the complex framing allows for fewer long-spanning rafters which actually makes a hip roof less expensive to build.
 

Historical Description

The Pittman family has figured prominently in the history of 310 W. Washington. Save for 1951, when Clara Jones owned the property, the Pittman family owned the house from 1906 until 1957, when Robert F. Jones and his wife Leda became its owners. Frank, a carpenter and Margaret Pittman were the first residents. In 1924, Frank Pittman Sr. died and the deed passed to his son, Frank Pittman Jr. and his wife Lydia. In 1940, their son Chas bought the house. Chas was the Chief of the Urbana Fire Department. He later received the title of the Urbana Fire Marshall. The biggest fire he ever helped put out was the burning of the Flatiron building in which $400,000 worth of damage was done. Chas died at the age of 63, leaving the residence to his wife, Louise and their children Raymond and Margaret.
"The house at 310 W. Washington has been the focus of an Abraham Lincoln story for decades. The story goes that all the hotel rooms in town were filled one night, and Lincoln stayed in the parsonage south of the Methodist Episcopal Church on Race St, supposedly this house. However, a number of factors are cause for suspecting the accuracy of this story. First, the architectural details of the house suggest that it was built in the early 20th century, not pre-1860s as would be required for the story to be true. Second, according to research conducted by local resident Stewart Berlocher, the 1869 Ruger map indicates a building adjacent to the Methodist Episcopal Church that is clearly not the current house. Given the accuracy with which the map drawings represent other nearby buildings it is hard to imagine that this is an error on the map. What is more likely is that the house at 310 W. Washington replaced an existing structure that may have been the parsonage.