Shelly Birkelo" />

Inviting porch, rich woodwork highlight historic home

Print Print
Shelly Birkelo
Monday, August 13, 2012

— The porch on the front of Shirley Van Horn's American Foursquare home is warm and inviting with its carpeted floor, wicker rockers and wood leaf-shaped ceiling fan.

Delicate chimes clang together to produce soft, pleasant musical tones from the light summer breeze, and a hanging flower basket blooms with pink blossoms.

It's no wonder why the full-length porch with Doric columns and heavy Janesville brick piers that support a low-pitched hipped roof was a big draw for Van Horn when she considered buying the house, which was built in 1924.

"I love the porch, and it just felt right when I walked in the house. My heart just about beat out of my chest. I just knew I was meant to live here," she said.

That was eight years ago.

Van Horn wants to share the features she loves about her home and garden when it's featured on the Rock County Historical Society's 32nd Annual Historic House Tour.

Van Horn's home is among 10 buildings on the tour, which also includes a church and the Lincoln-Tallman House.

"Whatever I can do to help a fundraiser. This is my way of donating," she said.

"Everyone likes walking through other people's houses," Van Horn said. "So I want people to come to help support the historical society. It does such great things."

Van Horn finds the original rich, dark mahogany woodwork found throughout her home and glass doorknobs on some of the interior doors of the house most interesting.

"You just don't see that," in a lot of homes, she said.

A new bay window was installed in the dining room at the same time a large kitchen window was added by one of the six families that lived in the house before Van Horn.

In 2002, the home's owner repaired and restrung all the windows, changed the furnace to forced air from radiator heat and replaced the carpeting and updated the home. It now has two central air units, including one in the third-story attic.

Van Horn created the gardens and the path along the west end of the home. She also recently remodeled the upstairs bathroom and had the third-story attic sealed off and insulated to make it more energy efficient.

Visitors also will want to be sure to check out the kitchen's original wood floors and light fixture.

"It's the only original one in the house," Van Horn said.


Including Van Horn's home, there will be eight houses, a church and a historic mansion featured during this year's house tour. The Rock County Historical Society has provided a bit of information on each building included on the tour.

Tammy and Mark Boufford, 102/104 N. Atwood Ave.

John Watson, a prominent Janesville contractor and bridge builder, built this Italianate cream city brick double (duplex) home in 1875 to house the families of his daughters and their families.

Even though the home was built with similar floor plans, the 104 N. Atwood Ave. side features more elaborate decoration detailing.

The house features a low-hipped roof, wide overhanging eaves and a plain wooden frieze. There are two two-story bays projecting from the front wall of the building. The two matching entries feature double wooden doors that are each topped with a large round-arched transom. A hipped roof entrance porch, which is supported by square posts, covers these entrances.

The Bouffords recently made extensive upgrades to the home, including surrounding it with more gardens and a pond.

Carol Zirngible, The Guardian Angel Bed & Breakfast, 429 Prospect Ave.

This cream brick structure with relatively little alteration to its detailed exterior was built for Hamilton and Caroline (Pease) Richardson and their six children in 1871.

The home has a varied history as a private home for the Richardson family then, in the 1940s, it was the Piccadilly Apartments. By the late 1970s it was home to Tom and Judy Berg, who did some extensive restoration to the home.

Now a bed and breakfast, it also is a private home to Carol Zirngible, who has done even more restoration to the exterior and interior of the home. A portion of the home also has two separate apartments.

The newest item on this property is a putting green that was installed on the east side of the home.

Curtis and Kaila Macek, 303 Cornelia

This Gothic revival-style house, built in 1871, features steep intersecting gable roofs. Paired windows with rounded arched-hood molds decorate both the first- and second-story windows, and the home's original clapboard siding has been replaced with vinyl.

The formal parlor boasts a marble fireplace and extensive decorative moldings. A middle parlor and formal dining room feature decorative rosettes.

Concrete countertops, dual ovens, custom tile-work and lighted cherry cabinetry can be found in the kitchen, which is the most modern space in the house.

In 1998, the original carriage house was taken down and replaced with a new structure built to mimic the old one, including a second-story hayloft.

Travis and Jennifer O'Connell, 601 E. Centerway

This 1916 Bungalow home was built for Harry and Augusta Sheldon and boasts a gable roof with a steep pitch and wide overhanging eaves supported by knee-brace brackets.

The design includes front and rear gabled roof dormers with second-story front and rear porches, multi-light sash windows and brackets projecting from the front of the roof.

The first story is covered with narrow clapboards while the second story gable ends and dormers are shingled. The front porch has brick piers and brick balustrade painted to match the house.

A tapered brick chimney, also painted to match the house, projects from the west wall of the house where windows are multi-light, double-hung sashes in a variety of sizes.

Margaret and Lars Jensen, who was a captain at the local Salvation Army, lived in the house in the 1940s.

The home has been completely remodeled by Legendary Construction, owned by the O'Connell's.

Cyndi Costagna, 117 W. Milwaukee St.

This downtown loft apartment is located in the former Elliott Law Office and was extensively remodeled in 2007 by Cyndi Costagna, who bought the space that was the former home of the Janesville Jaycees. The space today features an open floor plan with room for a baby grand piano.

The building was built around 1866 on land owned by John Dunn, who along with his brother operated a wine and liquor shop out of. The building later housed a different liquor store and then a saloon.

Travis and Jennifer O'Connell, 400 W. Milwaukee St.

Built in 1895 at a cost of just more than $30,000, this building originally had a prominent third story. That level was removed in 1938 when the structure underwent a substantial remodel, and it was replaced with curved steel trusses and a barrel roof.

Although the original design integrity has been altered, this building retained the features of the Romanesque-style.

This building was dedicated as the YMCA in 1895 and remained so until around 1925, when the new YMCA was built. By 1941, it was occupied by Monterey Storage, and in 1952 it became an authorized Ford dealer and Avis Rent A Car System.

During the 1960s, the building housed Huber-Handy Glass Company and Dick's Concrete Service. In the 1970s, McCray's Hammond Organ and Treuhardts Auto Repair resided there.

The building will soon undergo a substantial renovation and now is in the design phase with Angus Young Architects.

Steve and Julie Monroe, 217 Cornelia St.

This Queen Anne home is under renovation and will have a picture display during the day of the tour.

Nativity of Mary Parish, St. Mary Catholic Church, 317 E. Wall St.

This Victorian Gothic church, built between 1864 and 1944 at a cost of $50,000, has a 201-foot spire that make this structure the centerpiece of the Prospect Hill district.

Highlights of this church include stepped buttresses, brick corbelling, slender pointed arch windows filled with stained glass, plus a steeple that rises from each corner of the main elevation. The taller southeast corner tower contains a belfry with arched, louvered openings.

The 21-inch walls are made of more than 900,000 dark red Menominee hydraulic-pressed bricks.

When St. Mary's organized in 1876, a small wood-frame church was built on this Wall Street site before a brick rectory was built in 1878. In 1900, the present building was commissioned to house the growing membership and the first St. Mary's was moved and later demolished. A portion of the original rectory remains at 403 Pease Court.

Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St.

Built between 1855 and 1857, this house is an example of Italian Villa architecture. Details such as the cupola, glass entrance, porch columns, newel post and window hoods suggest the home's design might have derived from designs in Samuel Sloan's "The Model Architect," a class pattern book from 1852.

The five-story mansion is the only surviving private residence where Abraham Lincoln slept in Wisconsin. Lincoln stayed one night in the home in October 1859.

The Tallman House is a unique museum in that nearly 75 percent of its furnishings are original to the Tallman family, including the bed Lincoln slept on during his visit.


Last updated: 5:10 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Print Print