Gothic Revival Cottage Nomination
The Gothic Revival Cottage is an excellent example of this architectural style, which is somewhat rare in the Midwest, in particular in central Illinois. The construction date precedes the Civil War, yet no existing records can pinpoint an exact year. One of the oldest structures in Champaign County, the cottage maintains a high degree of integrity. The exterior is original with the distinctive Gothic Revival bargeboard, weatherboard siding, and stylistic porch elements. In addition, there have been no significant alternations or additions to the building as indicated by Sanborn maps. Since the Gothic Revival architectural style was most popular in the northeast and spanned from 1840 to 1780, this example is a particularly rare find.
Given the presence of the original elements and the rarity of the Gothic Revival architectural style in Urbana and central Illinois, the cottage maintains a high degree of integrity. It presents a very accurate physical sense of the past as it has changed little over time. The location, design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and setting all remain and retain the historic character. As a result, the cottage holds significant architectural value for the community and deserves local landmark consideration.
This residence epitomizes the quaint and intimate Gothic Revival architectural style. On the main (west) façade, it is a 1 and one-half story symmetrical structure with weatherboard siding painted blue and a brick foundation. At the center of the first story, there are two double-hung (1/1) paired windows. On both sides, there are identical one story stylistic porches and each has an entrance as well as two steps leading to the porch. The porches have decorative lattice panels as well as patterned brackets. On the upper one-half story, the defining element of the Gothic Revival style is seen in the steep gable roof coupled with the decorative bargeboard painted peach. In addition, there is a narrow pointed arch window (4/4 lights) with molded hoodmold centered under the gable and bargeboard.
The side (south) façade borders a gravel alley and is identical to the other side (north), which borders another residence. The side is a 2 bay façade with double-hung (1/1) windows on the first story only. The gable roof with cornice returns is visible and indicates the influence of the earlier Greek Revival style. The roof has asphalt shingles and has two chimneys: one is on the main gable and the second is on the south end of the cross gable.
The rear (east) façade is quite simple with two double-hung (1/1) windows and a rear entrance with two steps leading up to the door. On the upper story, there is a diamond shaped window painted peach.
Sanborn maps do not indicate any significant alterations or additions to the residence. However, the 1915 Sanborn map depicts two outbuildings along the alley on the south lot line. In the 1923 Sanborn map, these two outbuildings are not present. Thus the structures must have been demolished sometime between the two dates.
The lot is large with several mature trees and a small one-story outbuilding behind the residence, which dates to after 1969 as indicated on Sanborn maps. The house is set on the edge of a mixed-use neighborhood. The other single-family houses on the block are similar in size to the house at 108 North Webber Street. In addition to the houses, railroad tracks, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District Station, and Emulsicoat Inc./University Asphalt Inc. are at the north end of the block (Sidwell map). One block to the south is East Main Street which is a minor east-west corridor through Urbana. Approximately four blocks to the west is the Urbana downtown business district. Also to the west is the shopping district including Schnuck’s grocery store and other smaller stores and also a freestanding large Auto Zone. Finally, other commercial uses in the area include a veterinarian clinic, a heating and cooling service office, and an antique shop.
In 1822, the first pioneer cabin was built in Urbana near the Boneyard Creek, behind where the Courier Café is located, by William Tompkins (Urbana Free Library Website: History). This residence preceded much of the industrial and educational growth yet to come. Urbana was founded as the County Seat of Champaign County in 1833 and the first courthouse, a log cabin, was built in 1836. Industry and the Illinois Central Railroad stimulated development in West Urbana, now Champaign, in 1854. With the railroad came settlement, employment, and transportation opportunities. In order to connect railroad visitors from the Champaign station to commercial development in downtown Urbana, a streetcar railway was started in 1863. In 1936, electric streetcars replaced the initial horse car line. Significant development was stimulated with the opening of the University of Illinois in 1867. Employment and education are only two of the major contributions the University of Illinois has brought to the community. The University of Illinois and the industrial development assisted the growth of downtown Urbana by increasing demand in terms of shops, restaurants, offices, and Busy Bank, which opened in 1868. Similarly, residences were also demanded in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Urbana, the University of Illinois, and the railroad.
Over the years, the Gothic Revival Cottage has been near much community development. North of the cottage were railroad tracks and railroad car shops as well as the Railroad YMCA. The Railroad YMCA provided transitional housing for traveling men, many of whom were big four employees (Bial 97). Many of the occupants of 108 North Webber Street worked for the railroad in various positions. Many of the occupants of this home worked as cooks, waiters, auto mechanics and so forth. Throughout the available history of occupants there was also a great deal of fluctuation with very few long time occupants. Also, in the neighborhood was Webber Public School, two blocks south at 112 South Webber Street. An article on April 29, 1911 in the Urbana Daily – Courier described Webber School as The newest large school building in the city” and “the interurban connects it with the rural districts to the east, enabling the farmers to send their children regularly”. In addition to the farmers, the school also served families who worked on the railroad and other industry north of the school. After eighty years of educating students, Webber Public School closed in 1980.
Downtown Urbana is several blocks west of the cottage on Main Street. Since most of the occupants were blue collar, it can be presumed that they did not work downtown. However, the close proximity perhaps influenced them to walk downtown for religious services, restaurants, grocery stores, and other needs.
Gothic Revival Architectural Significance
The house exemplifies the Gothic Revival architectural style. According to the guide book published by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the Gothic Revival architectural style appeared in the United States in the mid-19th century when picturesque gained popularity. Virginia and Lee McAlester’s A Field Guide to American Houses adds supporting information regarding the style. Most of the Gothic Revival homes were constructed between 1840 and 1870 is considered to be part of the Romantic House movement with stemmed from 1820 to 1880. Other architectural styles within the Romantic Houses distinction are Greek Revival, Italianate, and Exotic Revival such as Octagon (McAlester 200). The most abundant number of Gothic Revival homes still standing are in the northeast and are least present in the south (McAlester 200). In Carole Rifkinds A Field Guide to American Architecture, the Gothic Revival architectural style is described as having “strong character and a romantic disposition” (Rifkind 51).
In 1749, the Gothic Revival architectural style began in England with Sir Horace Walpole who was a wealthy dilettante who remodeled his county home in this style (McAlester 200). Alexander Davis designed the first documented Gothic Revival house in the United States in 1832 in Baltimore, Maryland. Davis championed the Gothic style in his 1837 book Rural Resistances. Other design and site plan publications which popularized the Gothic Revival style included A.J. Downing’s Cottage Residences (1842), Richard Upjohn’s Rural Architecture (1852), and the Horticulturist (1846 – 1875) (Gordon 80). The Gothic Revival style uses seldom compatibility with the natural landscape McAlester 200). In addition, the Gothic Revival emphasis on high, multiple gables and wise porches did not conform to narrow, urban lots (McAlester 200).
Gothic Revival is characterized by a variety of elements: vertical emphasis; narrow lancet (pointed arch) windows; decorative bargeboard (gingerbread); molded label lintels over windows and doors; battlements parapets; tall clustered chimney stacks, often paired in center of gable roof; steeply pitched gable roof, often cross gabled; and stained glass (Gorden 80). Most often, the homes are constructed of board and batten materials or horizontal cladding, with chunky cast iron occasionally used for door hinges (Rifkind 51, McAlester 200). Windows in Gothic Revival residences typically have one window with Gothic detailing and most often the single window is located in the most prominent gable (McAlester 198). Furthermore, the window may have a pointed arch and a characteristic window crown, also called molded label lintels (McAlester 198). This window is clearly seen on the front façade under the bargeboard on the home at 108 North Webber Street. The widow combined with the bargeboard, the wood trim reminiscent of Gothic tracery, are the most distinctive stylistic features (Rifkind 51). Lastly, approximately eighty percent of Gothic Revival houses have one-story porches (McAlester 198).
Greek Revival Architectural Significance
The Greek Revival Architectural style can also be seen in the cornice returns on the cross gable roof. The cornice return is one of the principle details or elements of the Greek Revival architectural style (McALester 180). This is typically combined with a lower roof pitched on a gable roof as well (Rifkind 30). The Greek Revival architectural style was the dominant American architectural style from 1830 to 1850. The largest surviving concentrations of homes are found in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, and Massachusetts (McAlester 182). This style was popularized as it offered “a classical vocabulary that was versatile to regional and urban” areas and was “an architecture of beauty, breadth, simplicity, and permanence”. (Rifkind 38). The Greek Revival architectural style lacked the romantic and rural elements that popularized the Gothic Revival architectural style. Rather, Greek Revival was more classical and conservative in appearance.
In the house at 108 North Webber Street, both the Greek and Gothic Revival architectural styles can be seen. It is not uncommon to find the two styles together; the two styles are often used in transitional uses since the periods of development of both styles overlapped. The house is primarily Gothic Revival as a result of the bargeboard (gingerbread) trim on the gable roof. The bargeboard and gable roof are both defining elements of the Gothic Revival architectural style. In addition, the narrow pointed arch window (444 lights) with molded hoodmold centered under the gable and bargeboard exemplifies the style according to Virginia and Lee McAlester (198). The one-story porches feature stylistic elements and are found in approximately eighty percent of Gothic Revival houses (McAlester 198). This further supports the uniqueness of this house not only in an architectural style uncommon in the area, but in having an elements that is not present in all Gothic Revival houses. Greek Revival elements are primarily seen in the cornice returns on the cross gable at the rear of the house. The cornice return is one of the principle elements of the Greek Revival architectural style is evident on both sides of the house (McAlester 18).
The Gothic Revival Cottage is in a mixed-use area, a block north of East Main Street and just east of the Main street downtown development. East Main Street is a minor east-west corridor through Urbana and has commercial developments along it, such as Auto Zone, Schnucks grocery store and its relating shopping district, as well as smaller locally owned businesses in the area. There are also single-family houses on this block of North Webber Street; all are similar in size to the house at 108. North of the houses are railroad tracks, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District station, and Emulsicoat Inc./University Asphalt Inc which contribute industrial elements to the mixed-use area (Sidwell Map). Despite the multiple uses within the area, the area maintains large, mature tress and shrubs; Webber Street is also lined with old streetlights which retain character in the area.
In comparison to other Gothic Revival houses in the community, there is only one example to examine. Outside of the city limits at the corner of High Cross Road and Washington, a Gothic Revival house stands alone and exemplifies many elements of this architectural style. The house has bargeboard (gingerbread) trim on both the main gable, as well as the gable roof. It has a pointed arch window on the upper story centered within the gable and molded hoodmold above it. The other windows, double-hung, have molded hoodmold as well. Both this example and the house at 108 North Webber Street are distinctively Gothic Revival as seen in the bargeboard, gable roofs, and molded label lintels which are all previously mentioned principle architectural elements. The two houses are similar in size and in number of elements. They are both unique examples of an architectural style uncommon in the area.
Another comparison can be made to the Greek Revival house in Leal Park at 303 West University Avenue. Listed on the National Register of historic places on October 20, 1977, this house retains several Greek Revival architectural elements. Most importantly, the cornice return on the gable roof, which is highly characteristic of this style and is also quite evident on the gable roof at 108 North Webber Street. The Leal Park example has been recognized by the National Register for its architectural significance and the house at 108 North Webber Street. This signifies the combination between the Gothic Revival architectural styles.
Chain of Occupancy
|1998||Brenda K. Smith|
|1987-1958||Mrs. Jennie (widow of Elza) Patterson|
Mrs. Patterson worked as a maid at 1312 South Race Street, Urbana
|1957-1946||Mr. and Mrs. Elza and Jennie Patterson|
Mr. Patterson was a cook at Broadway Lunch as well as a waiter at the Railroad YMCA, just down the street
|1945-1944||Mr. and Mrs. John and Mattie Witt|
Mr. Witt was an auto mechanic for Dana Hudelson (302-04 East Broadway)
|1943||Mr. and Mrs. Opal and Margaret Moore|
Mr. Moor was a switchman
|1942-1940||Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and Vina Divine|
Mr. Divine was a carpenter
|1938-1937||Mrs. Nellie B. Brown|
Mrs. Brown was a waitress with Lincoln Luncheonette
|1936||Mr. and Mrs. John and Minnie Redenbaugh|
Their family included Kenneth and Harold. Mr. Redenbaugh worked as a laborer
|1935-1934||Mr. and Mrs. Ray and Eunice Miller|
Mr. Miller worked as a sheet metal worker
|1932||Mr. and Mrs. Everett and Hallie Roberts|
Mr. Roberts was a mechanic
|1931||Mr. and Mrs. Everett and Hallie Roberts|
Mr. Roberts was a painter for Everence Garage (206 E. University)
|1930-1926||Mr. and Mrs. Melvin and Iva Horton|
Mr. Horton was an attendant for Shell Petroleum Corporation (bulk plant was at 115 Webber)
|1925||Mr. and Mrs. William and Lula Durham|
Mr. Durham worked as a carpenter for Circle A Products Co. (702 S. Neil) and their son Albers also lived there
|1924||Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Mina Peach|
Mr. Peach worked for the University of Illinois
|1923||Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and Marie Carpenter|
Mr. Carpenter worked as a Big Four fireman
Mr. Theodore Carpenter also lived there and worked as a truck driver for GA Keller (meat market)
|1922||Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and Marie Carpenter|
Mr. Carpenter worked as a Big Four fireman
|1918-1916||Mr. and Mrs. Jno and Emma Massey|
Mr. Massey worked for the Big Four and their children included Miss Denzil Massey, Ralph Massey, and Raymond Massey who worked as a farmhand
|1914||Mr. and Mrs. Karl and Julie Griffith|
Mr. Griffith worked as a brick mason
|1912-1906||Mr. and Mrs. Edward and Bertha Creiger|
Mr. Creiger worked as a Big Four engineer and Miss Stella Creiger also lived there and worked as a book keeper
Source: Available City Directories, Urbana Free Library Archives.
Available City Dirctories, Urbana Free Library Archives
Available Sanborn Maps, Urbana Free Library Archives
Bial, Raymond, Urbana: A Pictorial History St Louis: G Bradley Publishing, 1994
Gorden, Stephen How to Complete the Ohio Historic Inventory Columbus: Ohio Historic Preservation Office, 1992
McAlester, Verginia and Lee A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984
Owner information, Carolyn Baxley
Rifkind, Carol. A Field Guide to American Architecture. New York: The New American Library, 1980
"School Board Vote Shuts Webber" Champaign-Urbana News Gazette February 8, 1978