Friday, October 12, 2007

Iron Clad Dwelling, 1870


Iron-Clad Houses.
To the late great war we owe the origin of iron clad war-ships and steamers; the succeeding peace has originated iron-clad houses. A building of this kind has just been erected for the Hon. E. A. Moore, in New York City, on the southwest corner of One Hundred and Seventeenth street and Avenue A, (Harlem.) The house stands by itself, detached from other buildings, and is represented in our engraving. It is built on a lot 75 by 100 feet, and has a space of 20 feet on each side, which is to be used as a flower garden and court-yard. The main entrance, with brown-stone steps, Ionic portico, with heavy balustrade, and balcony above the portico, is on the avenue. It is the first instance in this city where cast-iron has been used for the front of a first-class dwelling-house. The designs and details were arranged to give it the same homelike appearance which we find in our first-class brown-stone residences. They were prepared by Mr. John Alexander, the manufacturer, of Greenpoint, L. I., and executed by Mr. S. D. Hatch, architect, of this city.

The mode of securing the plates to the walls is seen by the accompanying section. The iron was thoroughly painted before being set, and a space of two inches was left between the iron and brick. The quoins, antes, cornices, sills, etc., were all executed from full-sized details furnished by the constructor, and arranged to provide against expansion and leakage with the necessary laps, washes, drips, etc.

The iron ashlars are made with slightly beveled joints, and laid in courses 14 to 15 inches high, with 12 and 8-inch brick walls carried up on the inside, to which each of the plates is anchored as shown in the section. The antes have sunk and moulded faces, 8- inch reveals with ornamental trusses, and handsomely-moulded cornices with dentil courses. The quoins on the angles project two inches with beveled edges, and raised panels on the faces ; the basement ashlar plates were made with a channeled rustic instead of beveled, as in the first and second stories; the sill courses to the basement were of brown-stone, as well as the door-sills, steps to the first story, ashlar under the ends of steps, area facings, copings, etc. The front court-yard was excavated to the depth of the basement floor, which gives a well-lighted basement and cellar.

The interior arrangement of the house is illustrated in the accompanying plans. The main building is 35 feet front by 40 feet in depth, and has 2 stories, cellar, and basement, with extension 17 by 85 feet, the latter ro containing the dining-room and butlers pantry in the first story, kitchen and laundry in the basement, and furnace-room in the cellar. On the corner, in the basement, is located the library, with private entrance from the avenue. It also contains the servants hall, bath-room, private stairs, servants entrance, kitchen and laundry, store-rooms, etc. On the first story we pass through the portico into the vestibule and a spacious hall; from here we enter by sliding doors into the reception-room to the left 9 ½ by 19 feet, and on the right side of the hall into the parlors, one of which is 14 ½ by 16 feet, and the ether 14 ½ by 20 feet.

The front has fully the appearance of brown-stone, but costs only half as much, and it is to be expected that, as soon as a longer experience in the adaptation of iron to the construction of house-fronts is at our command, a decrease in the expense of building and an increase in the beauty and utility of dwellings will be the result.

The entire cost of the house was about $16,000, an amount much below the cost of building entirely of stone or iron. The walls may be built of common cheap brick, such as otherwise could not be used for a front, and in place of building the exterior part of the wall of the more expensive stone, the cast-iron plates are used as described. In this connection we suggest the use of plates for facing the beton buildings described in this paper on a former occasion. By this combination the cost of building is likely to be still more reduced.

Thus far, when common cheap brick was used, the fronts were often plastered with cement, and painted in imitation of brown-stone. This may look well at first, but affter a few years the plaster comes generally off in patches, and the building looks very dilapidated This may be seen in some brown-stone imitation fronts of certain very pretentious houses in Philadelphia. The lining of such buildings with the iron plates here described would cause an increase in cost, which would however be fully covered by this durability and security against the otherwise necessary replastering, not to speak of the absolute ugliness of a house thus patched.

Another advantage we must not omit to mention. This is the fact that the cost of the iron used for such fronts is not only infinitely less than that of buildings constructed entirely of iron; but the cost saved in transportation is also a large item, when the building has to be sent any considerable distance. An elegant front may now be ordered in New-York, boxed up and sent to any part of the world. Any builder can then connect it with the outside of the coarsest walls, while they are in process of erection, and in this manner a residence of metropolitan aspect may be constructed almost anywhere.

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