At first glance this house in Council Bluffs, Iowa, appears to be a Tudor Revival from the 1920’s or 30’s   Closer inspection reveals that the house began as an 1880’s Queen Anne.  Sorry about the photo quality… these images were taken from a real estate listing found on  Listing information indicates that the house was built in 1884 which I can easily believe based on surviving original details.


The facade screams Tudor Revival:  first story of brick with “half-timbered” second story.   But… what’s that at the far end of the porch?  The double doors with boxy crown look suspiciously Victorian-era…


The same boxy crown, created by slightly projecting brick, is found over side windows on the main floor and the window just above the entry (picked out in white).  The bulk of the second story has been stuccoed and given some fake half-timbering.  Dormers appear to be clad in wood shingles -possibly a remnant of the original 1884 exterior.


An enclosed porch at the rear is sheathed in clapboard siding.  Gable ends above appear to be of later, frame, construction as the jambs and casings are not the kind used with masonry.  A projecting brick window crown typical of others on the house can be more clearly seen here (between garage door and porch door) as it is not painted brown and there are no fake shutters to camouflage it.


The side elevation is visually a bit chaotic.  The fake shutters on the window at far right seem to visually merge with the brown-painted window crown above them – making the crown less noticeable.


One of the most interesting features of any house is the staircase… so why is it that so few realtors ever photograph one to its advantage?!  In this image, the newel post (it has to be interesting!) is not visible at all and the handrail obscures 97.7% of the balusters.  Fortunately, however, we can see that the handrail has a camelback profile and appears to be walnut (as many such rails were in the 1880’s).  The heavily turned balusters are also typical of the period.


The fanciful window and door casings throughout the house are also typical of the 1880’s, though unfortunately painted.  Sadly, the windows appear to have been replaced with white vinyl units.  The two windows at left are part of the group of four seen at the front of the house.  The group is a part of the Tudorization of the house; these windows do not extend to the floor as do original windows in the house.  Originally this wall likely had two windows rather than four (mirroring the arrangement above on the second story).  Trim from these two windows appears to have been recycled and incorporated into the group of four in an effort to make the new windows better blend with the remaining originals.


Ah… the dining room.  It appears to be the recipient of a 1970’s makeover including sliding glass doors and a light fixture of Neo-Mediterannean persuasion.  The large four-panel doors with black ceramic knobs are also indicative of an 1880’s build date.


The bold colors in this room help to highlight the exuberant woodwork – those applied rosettes weren’t on the woodwork downstairs (except on the doorway adjacent to the staircase).


Given that most of the original interior seems to be intact, this house would make a good candidate for a total restoration.  It would be fun to see what is underneath the stucco on the second story.  This house well illustrates the old saying that “you can’t judge a book by its cover”.

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