Appearing in the 1886 edition of Shoppell’s Modern Houses, Design No. 580 is a massive house with a central stair hall and wide, asymmetrical, façade. While many of the plans offered by Robert W. Shoppell’s Co-Operative Building Plan Association of New York were decidedly Queen Anne in style, many Shingle style options could also be found — including this one.

A surviving example of the design, neglected for many years, stands today at 179 Montford Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina. Happily, it has recently found new stewards who are in the process of restoring it. Dr. Eric Halvorson and his wife Rebecca have taken on the challenge of preserving the fascinating house which, as an example of the work produced by Shoppell, is important both locally and nationally. Dr. Halvorson has kindly shared photos of the house taken prior to the start of work. Unless noted otherwise, all photos were taken by him.

Unusual for its placement on its relatively narrow urban lot, the house is known in its neighborhood as the “Sideways House”. What was intended to be a side elevation now faces the street, while the intended front faces the neighboring house. It is a beautiful design, and rare in that it thankfully retains a great deal of originality.

First and second floor plans for Design No. 580. Some slight modifications were made to the house when built as is typical of many houses built from plan book designs. Image source: Shoppell’s Modern Houses via

The placement of the house on its lot is more clearly understood in this satellite view courtesy of Google. A curved drive brings vehicles to the side of the house (which faces the street).

The house as seen from Montford Avenue. The entrance to the curved drive is seen at right. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

A closer view. A small flight of steps leads from the curved drive to the front porch.

The porch at right faces the back yard. The intended front of the house can only be seen from the side yard. The main entry is within the recess of the larger porch… let’s take a peek inside!

A tall pair of entry doors open to a spacious stair hall. The parlor is seen beyond. Note that a portiere rod — complete with rings — spans the cased opening in the foreground (shown as pocket doors on the floor plan).

The parlor, looking toward the entry hall and dining room. A door to the left of the fireplace does not appear on the floor plan. The light fixture appears to be mid-twentieth century.

The dining room. The door at left leads to the butler’s pantry and kitchen. A handsome Arts-and-Crafts style light fixture survives.

The open stairwell is a memorable feature of the house. The turned spool balusters create a fun effect!

A bedroom on the third floor (floor plan not shown in the Shoppell plan book).

A 1920’s upgrade to the house, this shower is not too different from currently fashionable spa showers!

Detail of the antique Speakman valve.

Detail of a built-in towel bar.

One of the many beautiful vintage fixtures remaining in the house.
This ledger documents materials purchased for the construction of the house. Most owners of historic homes could only dream about finding such detailed information! An excellent article expanding upon this find — and other interesting aspects surrounding both the house and R. W. Shoppell — may be found here.

Most old houses hold secrets and fascinating links to the past. This telephone directory from 1898 was found in a wall. There are no doubt even more remnants of the past waiting to be revealed…

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