Saturday, March 22, 2014

Building Detective: The William G. Barber house

From the southeast.
William Lee Perkins' public buildings in Chariton are widely known --- including the Hotel Charitone, City Hall, American Legion Hall and Masonic Temple. But his residential work is less widely recognized, in part because of the difficulties involved in attribution. The Crozier/Steinbach House, designed in 1917 by Chariton's resident architect and leading civil engineer from 1917 until his death during 1957, is the only Perkins home listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From the southwest.
As it happens, one of his most innovative smaller homes --- the 1931 William G. Barber House at 715 Ashland Avenue --- currently is on the market, so it seems like a good time to take a closer look.

From the northwest.
The builder, William Gordon Barber, was a Chariton mail carrier who went to work for the U.S. Postal Service in 1922 and continued until retrement in 1954, walking during his peak years an estimated 5,000 miles annually around Chariton.

From the north.

He was born January 5, 1900, in Chariton, a year after his parents, James M. and Pernecia Barber, had moved to Lucas County from Woodburn. His father, a longtime railroad employee, spent most of his years in Chariton as an independent contractor, undertaking various kinds of work. He was killed on Dec. 5, 1928, when a trench collapsed as he was installing a sewer line.

William G., known as Bill, commissioned Perkins to design the new home during 1930 for himself and his widowed mother and they moved in during late 1931. Here's an account of the home from The Chariton Leader of Tuesday, Jan. 5, 1932:

New W.G. Barber Home one of Finest Built Here in 1931
Latest in Modern Home Conveniences Included in Architect's Plans

One of the resident building additions to Chariton during 1931 was the brick veneer cottage erected by W.G. Barber at 715 Ashland avenue, into which he and his mother, Mrs. Pernecia Barber, moved shortly before the old year closed. The new home is very complete and reflects the owner's good taste in arrangement and desire to have the latest in household conveniences. Plans for the new residence were drawn by Architect W.L. Perkins to conform with Mr. Barber's ideas. F.E. Taylor was in charge of the construction.

Living room fireplace and built-ins/Courtesy Kent Farm Management & Real Estate

The front entrance to the residence is at the southwest corner through a vestibule. A large coat closet, enjoying the advantage of a window, is just west of the vestibule behind a full length mirrored door. To the east of the vestibule is the large living room. At the center of the east wall is the brick fireplace with oak leaf tile, and at either side of the fireplace is a built-in book case.

Dining Room with built-in cupboards, phone nook/Kent Farm Management & Real Estate

Through French doors one enters the dining room to the north in two corners of which are built-in china closets, and on the north wall a built-in telephone nook. A door to the north leads to the kitchen which enjoys commodious built-in cabinets and a breakfast nook. A hallway connects the two bedrooms and bath at the north and west with the main part of the house. Each bedroom has a large closet, and a linen closet is located off the hallway between the two.

The bath room is located at the north, has orchid colored closet, pedestal lavatory and built-in tub. The floor and walls are of rich green tile and the upper walls are painted in orchid. A hidden medicine cabinet is behind a wall mirror. The towel racks and grab rails are of orchid and built in to the walls. There is also shower fixtures.

The woodwork in the front of the house is of oak. The floors throughout the first floor are of the same material.

A stairway to the basement is located just off the kitchen to the north. The basement extends under the entire house and furnishes ample room for laundry room, drying room, work room, shower bath, vegetable cellar, furnace and fuel room. The house is heated by the vapor steam process, with concealed radiators built inside the walls. Mr. Barber also installed an oil tank in the yard and pipes from it are laid into the basement that an oil burner may be installed whenever desired.

Metal lath were used in the wall construction, walls are painted instead of papered, lighting fixtures of the latest pattern were used, some of them of modernistic design. The residence is equipped with roll screens and the whole dwelling reflects the builder's ambitions for a home blending comfort with beauty.

Pernecia Barber died on Dec. 20, 1940, but William G. occupied the home for the remainder of his life, which ended on Oct. 20, 1969, at the age of 69. After his death, both the house and its contents, including many antiques, were sold at public auction.

Barber was an enthusiastic woodworker and active in various fraternal organizations --- a York Rite Mason and a Shriner as well as a member of the Odd Fellows lodge. He is buried with his parents and grandparents in the Woodburn Cemetery, Clarke County.

The home obviously has been beautifully maintained and much of the interior appears (from Realtor photographs) to be intact, including vintage light fixtures. I'd love to get a look at the bathroom just to see if the green tile and vintage orchid fixtures still are in place --- an intact bathroom from this era is a wonderful thing --- seriously.

The exterior is vintage Perkins (I'm wondering if the front porch opening off the living room via a door flanked by two windows wasn't a Barber idea realized by Perkins; it is really unexpected). The beautiful brick work is a Perkins trademark, although he designed in wood as well. Look especially at the porch supports, the tiled vents in the peak over the porch and the small arched windows that light/vent higher parts of the (unfinished) attic.

The Barber House, currently priced at $77,500, is listed with Alan Umbenhower at Kent Farm Management & Real Estate. More photos are included with the online listing. Go take a look.


Brenda said...

I hope that charming home finds an owner that appreciates all its original features. I am curious about the bathroom too. Let us know what you discover about it.

Anonymous said...

I lived in the house for two years. The bathroom on the main level is small but has all the original tiling. The front two rooms are simply gorgeous with amazing craftsmanship.

Anon said...

Interesting. I grew up across the street and always new it as 'the Barber house'. I still have a chest that he made.