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Howard K. Weber House

Howard K. Weber House

925 South 7th Street
Springfield, IL

The Howard K. Weber House is an example of Italianate architecture as interpreted on the main streets of America.  It is important to the city of Springfield for several reasons.  It is one of the few remaining great private houses left intact in the area once known as “Aristocrat Hill”.  This region, in the several blocks around the Illinois Governor’s Mansion, was populated by Springfield’s upper-middle class and minor rich.  It began as a small house of the 1840’s (or earlier) and grew through numerous changes until it evolved into its present exterior form sometime in the 1870’s.  It is a two-story, L-shaped, brick structure with overhanging eaves supported by brackets.  The low pitched hip roof and arched windows are characteristic of the Italianate style. 

The asymmetrical floor plan is in the tradition of the rambling Tuscan Villas and like those, it grew by stages.  The main (East) facade has a two-story bay window, three windows wide, which combines Corinthian columns, classical pediment, and decorative rectangular arches with non-functional keystone, which enhances the classical feeling of the Italianate Villa style.  The porches, which were originally of wood, were rebuilt about 1900 in the neo-classical style then popular, which is sympathetic to the Italianate Villa style.  The porch running north and south, along the east facade picks up details from the earlier structure and carries out a successful transition.  Quarried tiles are laid in the floor of the porch. 

The house is a successful hybrid of two opposing style – both typical of the 19th century – the classical and the romantic.  The interior best reflects this mood in its major recordation/remodeling of 1893.  At that time the Webers installed parquet floors, a Romanesque Revival stairway, stained glass and yards of lincrusta Walton wainscoting, in rooms which had been primarily classical in proportion and detail.. The southeast front parlor, in the “best room” tradition, was redone reflecting the aesthetic principles of late 19th century interior decoration.  It features frescoes ceiling artwork, with geometric Eastlake type borders.  The remaining first floor rooms were treated similarly and included angular, incised wood work.  On the first floor a total of six different hardwoods have been used.  A free standing, circular staircase remains in the second floor hall.  The house has eight fireplaces.  Many rooms have plaster ceiling moldings and medallions from which light fixtures hang.   In all there were between five and seven additions excluding porches.  While the main front of the house dates from the 1870’s, there is evidence that the first addition was made to the original structure by the mid-1840’s.  There is a visible fireplace at the basement level which indicates that a functioning kitchen existed in a southern style structure, possibly dating from the 1820’s or 30’s.  A building with so many clearly defined and documented additions and alterations is indeed an important discovery. 

One outbuilding, the carriage house, still stands.  Although this has undergone several changes throughout its history, the basic structure (in Gothic Revival style) is still intact.  Taken as a whole this building is a truer example of a late Victorian home and all that this entails than many museum rooms which portray one decade or less of “Correct” fashion.  It is now the home of a gourmet restaurant and bakery.  This house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.