Memphis' architectural stock abounds in notable houses that are amalgams of architectural fashions. This stone and shingle house completed in 1911 skillfully incorporates elements from several styles, resulting in a composition that is a textbook illustration of American architectural eclecticism at the beginning of the 20th century.
Its stone tower with conical roof was derived from French-inspired chateau architecture and the Romanesque style popularized by Henry Hobson Richardson in the 1880s. Towers were also popular elements of the 19th-century Queen Anne style, as were the shingles used on the second story. The facade's Venetian or Palladian window is borrowed from Italian Renaissance architecture of Sebastiano Serlio and Andrea Palladio. The strongly articulated wooden voussoirs of the central window's arch are typical of the work of William Kent, an 18th-century English architect who reinterpreted Italian Renaissance architecture into a style known as Anglo-Palladianism. The tracery wreaths on the Palladian window and the tower's cornice are derived from the work of Robert Adam, a major English neoclassical architect.
While no architect of record has been discovered for this house, it has many similarities to the work of Augustine Chighizola, a Memphis-born architect whose career flourished in the early 20th century. The facade design, with its steep, front-facing gable, wide front portal defined by columns positioned between broad wing-walls, and prominent bank of windows centered above the portal are also found on Chighizola's own house, which he completed in 1909, nearby on Peabody Avenue.
Nothing on the exterior hints that the house is a variation of a four-square house plan, a form usually associated with Craftsman architecture and found in hundreds of examples throughout Midtown. In this house, the typical four-square floor plan is recognizable from the organization of the rooms. The entrance opens into a gracefully proportioned foyer containing the main stair, and wide doorways lead from the foyer to the circular parlor and dining room, which are laid out en suite and separated by pocket doors. As in most four-squares, the kitchen is in the back and all the bedrooms are upstairs.
The interior of the house is as skillfully articulated as the exterior. The Colonial Revival stair has robust paneled newels and turned balusters. Details in the recently remodeled kitchen and bathrooms complement original features of the house while providing up-to-date amenities often lacking in historic houses. The kitchen, an efficiently compact but light and cheerful space that can easily accommodate a serious cook, is open to a new breakfast room. A screen wall of multi-light, transomed French doors leads to a wraparound back porch.
All of the bedrooms are large and have more closet space than is typical of houses of this period. The master bedroom has a balcony at the side of the house; the tower bedroom with its fireplace could also be used as the master bedroom or a sitting room. One of the baths is designed to resemble a sleeping porch with a wall of windows and has both a shower and an immense claw-foot tub.
The house sits on an exquisitely manicured lot with a side parking area entered through an automatic gate. The recently constructed two-car garage is fondly known in the neighborhood as the "Garaj-Mahal." Its facade, complete with a Palladian window, echoes that of the house, and its grand interior space is reminiscent of the barns and carriage houses of 19th-century estates. The architects of this distinctive property clearly recognized that one's home is one's castle.
1387 Carr Avenue
3,029 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, $397,500
Sowell & Company
Agent: Linda Sowell, 278-4380, 454-0540