See the Curbed article on Virginia Savage McAlester, the author of A Field Guide to American Houses. A revised version of the encyclopedic classic came out a few years ago, and McAlester is now planning a field guide to commercial buildings.
The Merchants National Bank building in Grinnell, Iowa, also known as the Jewel Box, was designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan late in his career and built in 1914. Used as a bank for over 80 years, it now serves as the visitors’ center for the town. The building is a National Historic Landmark and part of the Grinnell Historic Commercial District.
Louis Sullivan designed eight “jewel box” banks. There are three in Iowa, two in Ohio, and one each in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana.
These three small houses are located along the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Trenton, where movable bridges formerly crossed the canal. Houses were provided so the bridgetenders were always available to swing the bridge out of the way as a canal barge passed through.
The Hanover Street house was renovated when Thomas Edison State College built the large building that partially surrounds it. The Calhoun Street house appears to be stabilized, while the Prospect Street house looks occupied.
Philemon Dickinson, called “one of the truest patriots of the revolution” by historian William Stryker, was from a wealthy family that owned land in several states, but he chose to establish a country estate, which he called the Hermitage, at a site outside the town of Trenton, New Jersey. He bought the property, which included a house and barns, in July of 1776.
Not long after he bought the property, Hessian troops seized the building and established a picket there, which guarded the approach to Trenton from the north. Dickinson, who was a general in the New Jersey militia, was stationed across the river in Yardley, where he could observe the Hessians occupying his home. After crossing the Delaware on Christmas night, American troops marched past the Hermitage on their way to Trenton, driving the Hessians before them. General Dickinson, still stationed in Yardley, contributed to the effort by ordering the artillery to shell his own home; fortunately for his real estate, the effect was mostly symbolic.
The Trent House was built around 1721 (although a plaque on its wall puts the date at 1719) by William Trent, after whom New Jersey’s state capital is named. It replaced an earlier house built by Mahlon Stacy.
The house was modified and expanded over the next 200 years. In the 1930s, a WPA project removed the later additions, uncovering the brick well and restoring the house to its original appearance.
French Huguenots founded the town of New Paltz in New York state in 1677. Their first houses were made of logs, but by the beginning of the 1700s, they were building more permanent stone houses. Several of those buildings survive today on Huguenot Street, a National Historic Landmark.
On the corner of Mason Avenue in the bayside town of Cape Charles, Virginia, is this abandoned Pure Oil gas station. Pure Oil designed these cottage-like filling stations in the late 1920s, and variations on this theme were constructed for several decades. This shows the design at its most simple form. The station still has the original “Pure Oil Blue” roof and most of its original features (compare it with the two historic photos from Pennsylvania and New York below). The three-bay garage on the side is likely a later addition.
Carl August Petersen created this Tudor Revival/English Cottage design in 1927 with the goal of presenting their Pure Oil as a safe, clean, and welcoming place to get gasoline. The standardized design also served to identify their brand to consumers, no matter where they were traveling.
The Pure Oil company was bought by Union Oil in the 1960s, and by the early 1970s, Pure Oil gas stations were rebadged as Union 76 stations. The Mason Avenue station remained in use as a gas station until fairly recently. A second Pure Oil building survives on the outskirts of Cape Charles. Many other Pure Oil stations have been repurposed into restaurants or for other uses, and several have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including a 1937 station in Geneva, Illinois. More examples can be seen at RoadsideArchitecture.
We don’t usually deal in real estate, but a striking house designed by architect Louis Kahn has just come up for sale. Kahn designed nine houses that were built around Philadelphia, this one is in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
The Clever House is named for the clients/owners, who sought out Kahn after seeing his Trenton Bath House (according to Curbed).
Yes, it needs work (but a couple hours of raking would make the outside look so much better), but it’s under $300,000 and the property taxes aren’t too horrible (for New Jersey). And gotta love the cinder block style on the inside.
Photos are from the Real Estate Listing.
More on this house and all of Kahn’s other residential projects here.