Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Architect Howard B. Burr of Waterloo, Iowa: The 1916 Edmonds House, Marcus, Iowa

Edmonds House, 1916
Marcus, (Northwest) Iowa
North elevation
photograph by versluis, ©2011, all rights reserved.

According to the website, “Prairie School Traveler” this solidly constructed brick “Four-square” with Prairie School (Style) details was designed by Waterloo, Iowa architect Howard B. Burr. It was built in 1916 for the Edmonds family. [1]

Born in 1878 in Clinton, Iowa, Ira C. Edmonds was an entrepreneur and president of the Edmonds-Londergan Company, Marcus, Iowa in the early 1900s. In addition to being a coal and lumber supplier in Northwest Iowa, he owned a few banks, had substantial real estate holdings, and farming interests. [2]

Regarding the Prairie School architectural design idiom Robert Guy Wilson writes this about Prairie School architect Vernon S. Watson’s house design, which could also apply to the Edmonds House:

The so-called “four-square” became the ideogram of the Prairie School. The origins of this essentially boxy and rectilinear form lay in middle-class houses illustrated almost continuously in house pattern books from the mid-1800s onward. Frequently cubical or square in both plan and mass, the “four-square” was the standard housing stock used—and repeated ad infinitum—across the United States. The best known of the Prairie School variations was Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fireproof House for $5,000,” published in the Ladies Home Journal in April 1907. Most of the Prairie School architects—Griffin, Purcell and Elmslie, John S. Van Bergen, William E. Drummond, and others—created variations on this type. [3]
In the Edmonds house the architect communicates “Prairie School” with a sheltering form of the low-hipped roof and deep eves while the symmetrically balanced placement of large windows is classical design. The entrance is on center, and the rectilinear quality is emphasized through light-colored trim and broad flat brick surfaces. Uniquely interesting is the “Japanese style” pagoda gable and facade of the front stoop. In addition, the horizontal emphasis is achieved through the car canopy on the left and to the right by the covered veranda, and low privacy walls of the terraced patio.
  1. Gebhard, David, and Mansheim, Gerald. Buildings of Iowa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, (1993): 484 Print.
  2. Hull, Arthur M., and Sydney A. Hale, eds. Coal Men of America: A Biographical and Historical Review of the World's Greatest Industry. Chicago: The Retail Coalmen, 1918, 119. Print.
  3. Wilson, Richard Guy. “Prairie school works in the Department of Architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago.” The Prairie School: Design Vision for the Midwest 21.2 (1995): 100-02. Print.

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