Lindley House Nomination


Located on the corner of Birch Street and Green Street is Lindley House, an exquisite example of the Queen Anne architectural style. Through its imposing gables, irregular massing, window variety, full stylistic porch, and other elements, the Lindley House epitomizes this style more so than other Queen Anne style homes in the community. In addition, Lindley House, maintains a high degree of integrity. With its original location, design, workmanship, feeling and setting retained, the Lindley House continues to display its historic character.

Lindley House has most of the defining physical attributes and materials of the architectural style. Its exterior form and features have not been significantly altered as indicated by Sanborn maps. Lindley House is highly representative and holds significant architectural value in the community. In addition, Lindley House was designed by Urbana native and University of Illinois graduate, RZ Gill in 1895. Gill designed other notable buildings in central Illinois and served as Urbana Engineer and City Treasurer from 1896 to 1898 (Urbana Free Library Archives).

Lindley House was built for Dr. Austin M. Lindley, an Urbana surgeon and physician, and his family. His wife’s, Minnie Hubbard Lindley, relatives were among the first settlers In Urbana. Thomas Hubbard, Mrs. Lindley’s father, was recognized for his role as Urbana businessman, alderman, and the first attempt at banking (“Chuck Flynn’s First Column”). The Lindley’s lived at 312 West Green Street from 1895 until 1922. Other occupants included the Conservatory of Central Illinois, Crossroads Realty Company, and it is currently occupied by Lindley House Bed and Breakfast.

Property Description

Built in 1895, the two and one half story Lindley House is highly representative of the Queen Anne architectural style. The front (south) façade of Lindley House exemplifies the irregular massing window variety, and unique architectural elements of the style. Visible from the front are the steep gable roofs. Along the roof, lining the top is iron cresting. The upper half story features wood shingles and focuses on a large Palladian window with stained glass and decorative moldings with dentils. There are also two smaller windows - one square and one with a segmental arch - on the upper half story, also featuring stained glass. Separating the uppermost story from the second story is a wide band of vertical wood trim. The second story of the front façade features an oriel window and narrow double-hung (1/1) windows. These windows feature lintels and edge painted burgundy. The exterior of the second story is clapboarded sided. The primary feature on the first story of the front façade is the prominent full width porch which is stylistic with carved wooden turned posts and radial brackets. A large picture window with stained glass and double hung (1/1) windows allows substantial natural light to flow into the first floor. The porch is raised with six stairs leading up to it and the left bay entrance. The home is built upon a brick foundation and stylistic lattice panels cover the open area beneath the porch. A large awning extends off the porch and down the front stairs.

Along the west side façade, which borders on Birch Street, is an original wrought iron fence and old streetlight. On the upper story is a semicircular window with stained glass trim set against a vertical wood trim exterior. In addition, there is a decorative “half-timer” treatment with woodwork painted white. The rest of the side façade is irregular with some recessed portions and other portions extended out. Window variety is again a central feature with double-hung windows (1/1) and windows that are paired and gradually increased in size. There is a panel of dentils which are tooth-like on both the façade and the windows with a stylistic bracket.

On the other side (east), several mature trees block a clear view of the home. The upper story has vertical wood trim wall and each story displays molded trim and details, including a floral design painted green. There is also an oriel window on the first story with remaining windows of the double-hung (1/1) variety.

The rear (north) façade of Lindley House is relatively plain with a rear entrance aligned with the northeast corner of the home and mixed sizes of double-hung (1/1) windows. There is also a back porch and brick sidewalk in the backyard of the home. In terms of decoration, this façade continues to display the painted dentils and trim which grace all of the exterior facades.

The interior of Lindley House is as exquisite as the exterior. There are inlaid parquet floors, an oak gingerbread staircase, many original brass lighting fixtures, beveled and stained glass windows, butternut pocket doors, and decorative woodwork. On the second floor, there are three queen bedrooms which welcome guests with their individual décor. In the attic is a lofty king suite which is filled with light from the Palladian window and uniquely shaped as a result of the irregular massing of the Lindley House.

In the rear of Lindley House is a carriage house which has a hipped gable roof and a board and batten clapboard exterior. Windows include a large picture window on the west façade and double-hung (1/1) windows comprised the remaining windows. There is a narrow alley behind the Carriage House and a short brick wall between the Carriage House and the (north) façade of the Lindley House.

Located at the northeast corner of Birch Street and Green Street, Lindley House is in a predominantly residential neighborhood. Many of the neighboring residences lack the integrity and architectural style that Lindley House possesses; however, there are a great variety of stylistic and vernacular homes. Across the street on the Southside corner is the Unitarian Universalist Church built in 1901 and several offices and apartments are scattered throughout the area. The area is filled with large mature trees and shrubs. Green Street is lined with old-fashioned streetlights. Lindley House is also within walking distance to the Urbana downtown business district as well as to the University of Illinois.

The History

The community of Urbana developed as a result of the Illinois Central Railroad, which was located in West Urbana which is now Champaign in 1854. The railroad brought settlement, employment, and transportation opportunities to the area. In 1863, the first street railway connected downtown Urbana to the Illinois Central station in Champaign. Initially a horse-drawn line ran the route which was later replaced by electric streetcars which continued until 1936. This connection to the railroad was critical to downtown Urbana’s development which was occurring on Main Street and included a variety of offices and shops. This downtown development on Main Street and neighboring streets resulted in neighborhood development within the area, including Green Street, Main Street, and other streets in the vicinity.

Located at 312 West Green Street, Lindley House was included in the early neighborhood development. Dr. Austin M. Lindley, a prominent Urbana surgeon and physician, and his wife, Minnie Hubbard Lindley, whose relatives were among the first settlers in Urbana, built the home in 1895 and lived there until 1922. An article in the Urbana Weekly Courier on October 25, 1985 states “The mansion is a subject if envy and speaks well for Dr. Lindsey’s business success”. In addition, Lindley House was described as “a modern residence in every particular and is certainly the greatest architectural feat, RZ Gill has done since his residence in our city”. An article in the Champaign Daily Gazette on September 21, 1895 describes the $6,000 home by “Dr. Lindley has overlooked nothing to make this a home of convenience, and comfort. The house is provided with gas, electric lights, steam heat, bathroom, speaking tubes, and in fact everything else tends to complete a first class up-to-date, modern home”. The first floor of Lindley House was used as Dr. Lindley’s office and the second floor was the family’s residence (Champaign Daily Gazette September 21, 1895).

Dr Lindley was the son of Dr. Mahlon and Salome Lindley. The elder of Dr. Lindley’s offices was at 119 West main Street, which is in the center of the downtown development, and their family home was at 401 South Race Street, Minnie Hubbard Lindley’s father, Thomas, was honored as an Urbana pioneer and recognized for his role as Urbana business, alderman, and the first attempt at banking (“Chuck Flynn’s First Column” Champaign-Urbana News Gazette June 18, 1978). Minnie Hubbard Lindley left Lindley House to her niece, Ida Hibbard Fisher and her husband Guy in 1922.

From 1961 until 1983, Walter and Eleanor Bennett and Roger Hunt used the house for their real estate office, Crossroads Realty Co. Occasionally, the country Store Stationers shop, run by Eleanor Bennett, was also in the house. During this period of time, there was extensive documentation and research done on the house by the owners and occupants. There was not a great deal of interior work done, although the exterior of the home was painted blue.

Another important Lindley House occupancy was the Conservatory of Central Illinois. Lindley House was filled with musical sounds from more than 600 students playing virtually any instrument, many included the guitar, flute, oboe, percussion and voice (“A Victorian Music Box of Knowledge”, Champaign-Urbana News Gazette November 6, 1988). Described as an elite institution, the Conservatory has many University of Illinois faculty as instructors and children as pupils. During this time, there were few changes to the house.

Currently, the house is occupied by Lindley House Bed and Breakfast. In 1996 the current owners, Norman and Carolyn Baxley, began extensive renovations to the home, including the beautiful; attic suite which is flooded by light from the Palladian window on the uppermost story.

Queen Anne Architectural Significance

Lindley House epitomizes the Queen Anne architectural style of Victorian architecture. Other architectural styles classified in the era of Victorian Houses include Second Empire, Stick, Shingle, Richardsonian, Romanesque, and Folk Victorian (McAlester vii). The Queen Anne architectural style was named and popularized by a group of 19th century English architects led by Richard Norman Shaw and is described as “coquettish, eclectic, and inventive” (McAlester, 268, Rifkind 62). Queen Anne can also be referred to as Eastlake Jacobean and “free classical” (Rifkind, 62). This was the dominant architectural style for domestic buildings from 1880 to 1900 with the first example in 1975 in Newport, Rhode Island by Watts-Sherman (McAlester 266,268).

According to the guidebook published by the Ohio Historical Preservation Office, the Queen Anne style stems from a variety of influences. First, medieval forms and classic castles influence its irregularity and the turret and tower elements. In addition the 1879 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia featured several British buildings designed by English Victorian architect Richard Norman Shaw. Common design and plan publications included the Queen Anne architectural style, such as the Palliser’s Model Homes (1878) and Comstock’s Modern Architectural Designs and Derails (1881).

Different types of decorative detailing can further distinguish Queen Anne. First, spindlework, which is found in fifty percent of Queen Anne homes, has “delicate turned porch supports and spindlework ornamentation, also in the gables and under overhands. There are also lacy, decorative spandrels and knob like beads which are common ornamentation, sometimes referred to as Eastlake detailing after Charles Eastlake, an English furniture designer, or referred to as gingerbread ornamentation” (McAlester 264). The second type is Free Classic, which denotes the use of Palladian windows, cornice-line details, and classical columns. Thirty five percent of Queen Anne homes are characterized as Free Classic homes and this is most common in designs after 1890 (McAlester 264). Third, about 5% of Queen Anne homes are half-timbered which is defined by decorative half timbering in gables or upper story walls. The forth style is patterned masonry, which is found in about 5% of Queen Anne homes and includes patterned brickwork/stonework under gabled dormers and terra cotta (McAlester 264). Lindley House includes elements from all the styles except for patterned masonry. The porch has extensive spindlework, the uppermost façade has a Palladian window, and the upper story on the side (west) façade has half timbering at the top.

Distinguished by a variety of wall materials and contrasting colors, the Queen Anne architectural style has a variety of defining elements. It is characterized by: irregular massing; irregular floor plans; variety of exterior finishes, such as wood shingles and clapboard siding; variety of window types, such as bay, oriel, Palladian; a gable roof; full-width or wrap-around porches with decorative elements; round, square or polygonal towers or turrets’ leading/stained glass windows; pressed brick with narrow mortar joints; steeply pitched imbricated slate roofs; and prominent chimneys, often with decoration (Gorden 91). Wood shingles and clapboard are commonly used for wall materials with different materials on different stories of Queen Anne homes (McAlester 266). Furthermore, the mix materials can also be found in decoration; “wooden decoration carved in scroll shapes, or lattice work in basketweave, spindle, reel, or other patterns” is common (Rifkind 62). Queen Anne uses wall surfaces as “primary decorative elements by (1) avoiding plain walls through bays, towers, overhangs, and projections and (2) using several wall materials of different textures where plain expanses of wall do occur” (McAlester 264).

Many of the aforementioned elements can be seen in Lindley House. Varied window type is present on each façade of the house. A full-width porch with decorative elements, such as the carved wooden turned posts and radial brackets also depict the Queen Anne architectural style. The gable roof and irregular massing are critical components of the style. The McAlester’s describe the style as using different materials on different stories and Lindley House has clapboard siding on the majority of the exterior with shingles on the upper half story of the main (south) façade. On the side (west) façade, some portions of the wall protrude out and others are recessed; this coincides with the McAlester’s descriptions of “avoiding plain walls through bays, towers, overhands, and projections” (264).

Gill was born May 17, 1866 in Urbana and died November 5, 1951 in Murphysboro, Illinois. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, His former wife; Nellie Martha Maxwell of Knoxville, Tennessee survived him as well as his two sons Rudolph Zerses Gill Jr., born June 29, 1894 and Fredrick Maxwell Gill, born March 23, 1899 (University of Illinois alumni record information request, December 18, 1905/University of Illinois archives). He married Nellie Martha Maxwell on October 10, 1889 and was given a divorce decree in February of 1919 after Nellie Gill left RZ Gill and went to California (University of Illinois archives: RZ Gill alumni file).

Architect, Rudolph Zerses Gill

Rudolph Zerses “Doll” Gill, an Urbana native and an 1887 graduate of the University of Illinois in architecture, designed Lindley House in addition to several other area buildings after returning to Urbana from Knoxville, Tennessee in 1893. Most notably, Gill made plans for Urbana High School, the city hall in Monticello, the city hall in Danville, the Hotel Douglas in Tuscola, and many other of the ‘finest’ Urbana residences (The Biographical Record). It is unclear whether Gill made plans for an earlier version of the high school or if they were plans that were never implemented. Gill also served as Urbana City Engineer and City Treasurer from 1896 to 1898, during which many considerable grading and paving improvements were made in Urbana (Urbana Free Library Archives).

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Gill went to Chicago and worked for Holabird & Roche, who were among the finest Chicago architects (The Biographical Record). Leaving Chicago, he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee and had his own firm, RZ Gill and Company Architects and Engineers, until 1893 (University of Illinois Archives: RZ Gill alumni file). He also worked for the American Association of London, England, which built several towns and developed iron and coal interests in Kentucky, Southern Tennessee and Virginia (The Biographical Record).


Lindley House is located near the community of Urbana. On the corner of Birch Street and Green Street, Lindley House is within walking distance of downtown Urbana and the University of Illinois. The neighborhood is predominantly single family home and has several offices and apartments scattered throughout the area. In addition, the Unitarian Universalist Church, built in 1907, is across the street. The area is filled with large, mature trees and offers a pleasant neighborhood to walk, drive or bicycle through.

In comparison to other Queen Anne residences in the community, Lindley House is a pristine example that stands apart form the others. Built in 1893, the Frank M. Marriott House at 506 West Main is slightly older than Lindley House and is one of the other fine examples of Queen Anne architecture in Urbana. It features a wide wrap clapboard siding, window variety, irregular massing, and a tower with a pyramidal roof. Next door to the Marriott House at 508 West Main Street is the Emmett Grant Yearsley House, also built in 1893. This home displays a wrap around porch with stylistic elements and irregular massing. Shingles are on the upper story with clapboard siding on the rest of the exterior. In addition, some of the windows have stained glass. According to a National Register application in the Urbana Free Library Archives, this home also had a Queen Anne tower which was removed, rather than restore it an expensive cost. The final example is the Louis A. Wahl House, built in 1892, at 510 West Main Street. The Wahl House has an open wrap around porch with stylistic elements. Like its two Queen Anne neighbors, the Wahl House sits on an expansive lot with a large setback. A tower, upper story shingles combined with clapboard, irregular massing, window variety and stained glass complete the Queen Anne exterior elements of this home. Despite all three of these homes possessing many elements of the Queen Anne architectural style, the Marriott House and its neighbors do not compare to the high style and integrity of Lindley House.

- Last Modified -December 18, 2014 - 10:55am
- Author - admin