Architectural Patterns

Many of the examples of architecture that are shown on this site bear striking resemblance to each other. One of the features that many of them have in common is the configuration of the doors, which represent the "Greek Revival" style of architecture, popular in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. Allyn House, State Route 700 at Allyn/Grove Road The doorway is a textbook example of the Greek Doric style. Variations of this door are to be found throughout the township. Nineteenth century carpenter-builders (like Pelatiah Allyn, the father of the builder of this house) were familiar with pattern books that coached them on every detail of executing a doorway of such temple-like elegance. One of the most familiar of these books was Asher Benjamin's The American Builder's Companion (1827). Benjamin explains the appropriateness of the Doric style for American houses: "Being the most ancient of all the orders, it retains more of the structure of the primitive huts, in its form, than any of the rest . . . . Delicate ornaments are repugnant to its characteristic solidity, and it succeeds best, in the simple regularity of its proportions." The orientation of the house is curious. Typically the five bays (the vertical elements that line up with each other) would be on the "long side" of the building rather than on the gable end. The roofline, with bold detail and partial returns, already suggests a Greek temple. But it is really only a sketch of a temple; there are no columns, no marble friezes, no Hellenic statuary. The doorway, alone, contains the richness and subtlety of detail otherwise missing from the "characteristic solidity" (Benjamin) of an almost barnlike structure. Herman Melville, American novelist (Moby Dick) and poet, summed up the appeal of Greek architecture in his poem of the same name: Not magnitude, not lavishness, But Form--the Site; Not innovating wilfulness, But reverence for the Archetype. In his Elements of Architecture (1843), Asher Benjamin points out that the ideals of Greek society are the most important factor for Americans in choosing Greek style for their buildings: "There are other associations we have with these forms that . . . powerfully serve to command our admiration, for they are the Grecian orders; they derive their origin from those times, and were the ornament of those countries which are most hallowed in our imaginations; and it is difficult for us to see them, even in our modern copies, without feeling them to operate upon our minds as relics of those polished nations where they first arose, and of that greater people by whom they were borrowed." Two doorways, which strongly resemble each other, grace buildings on Hinsdale Street, the east-west street on the north side of the College campus. Bonney Castle Inn, Hinsdale Street (1853) Hinsdale Street, 4 houses west of Bonney Castle The double columns (actually "pilasters") support a full architrave, completing the illusion of the portico of a Greek temple. The shadows, caused by the depth of the carving and mouldings, make the doorway into more than a flat, one-dimensional illustration of the Doric order. South-east entrance, Hiram Inn (Young House), at the intersection of State Routes 82 & 700. Another version of the Doric doorway. Conformity to an aesthetic model marks early nineteenth century Hiram inhabitants. Here a simpler version of the prototype on a farmhouse built east of the village in 1853. William Richards' House, 7733 S.R. 305 at Wheeler Road. At the east end of Ryder Road (the north-south boundary of Hiram village) where it meets Pioneer Trail, a rural building exhibits a fully realized example: In many ways, it is a match for any of the other versions of the doorway; it is startling, therefore, to see that it provides the main access to an outbuilding--perhaps a granary--on a farm! A house from the 1990s, on the south end of Wheeler Road in Hiram Township, very close to the border with Garrettsville, illustrates the persistence of the Greek Revival style over a very long time. Everett House, 11243 Wheeler Road Houses alone, of course, do not make up the entire built environment. Some of the earliest buildings in new settlements are barns; they provide some of the first, striking geometric counterpoint to what is perceived as wilderness. On Wheeler Road, east of Hiram Center off Route 305, several barns are noteworthy. First, one of the earliest, built perhaps before 1820: An ancient tree defines the natural landscape; the geometry of the barn, the man-made. Further north on Wheeler stands the barn of Zeb Rudolph, from the 1840s. A modern barn, from the 1990s, on Wheeler Road stands out against the landscape, exhibiting the same geometry as its 160 year-old neighbors. Silas Raymond had Pelatiah Allyn build him a granary and a barn in the 1840s at the crest of the hill on the Warren-Cleveland Road (today State Route 82) between Hiram and Garrettsville. The same square window seen on the early Wheeler Road barn occurs here in multiples, punctuating the lowest level of the barn's broad side.