Historic Structures

Roselawn - Owsley House, Danville Kentucky

Roselawn was the last home for William Owsley, Congressman, Governor of Kentucky, and Associate Justice on the State Court of Appeals. Owsley, born in Virginia in 1782, came to Lincoln County, Kentucky, as a child. He studied law under Chief Justice of the State Court of Appeals John Boyle and, after obtaining his license, began to practice law in Garrard County. He was elected to the State Legislature and shortly thereafter (1812) was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor Scott. In 1828 Owsley retired from the Court and returned to his home in Garrard County, Pleasant Retreat (listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975), to practice law. He sold the house and moved to Frankfort in 1837. The next year he purchased the property on which Roselawn was to be built, and established his son-in-law, Clifton Rodes, and family there. There was apparently a dwelling on the property at the time Owsley bought it, but neither this fact nor the nature of the dwelling can be substantiated. The existing dwelling reputedly burned in 1847, and the Rodes family moved to Danville. In the meantime, Owsley won the 1844 election for the Governor of Kentucky. He moved to Roselawn, built for his retirement, when his term ended in 1848 and lived there until he died in 1862. Roselawn is a two-story, five-bay, brick house situated in the gently rolling terrain of the Bluegrass Region in northeastern Boyle County, Kentucky. It is located about a mile and a half northwest of Danville on the east side of U.S. 127 (Harrodsburg Road), and about two miles from the Mercer County line. The house, which faces southward, is set back from the highway lying to its west and sits on the northern edge of a broad, flattened knoll amidst a grove of mature trees.


Rochester-Cecil House - Melrose, Danville Kentucky

The history of Melrose is closely linked with that of the adjoining farm, Roselawn, which was the home of Kentucky Governor William Owsley between 1844 and 1848. Owsley lived at Roselawn following his tenure as governor although he had purchased the property in 1838. This purchase did not include the tract upon which Melrose stands, but the governor's son, Erasmus Boyle Owsley, enlarged the holdings associated with Roselawn during the 1840s by accumulating many smaller surrounding tracts. In 1845, William and Erasmus Owsley sold three hundred acres, including the land on which Melrose was to be built, to the governor's son-in-law, Albert Gallatin Talbot. Talbot was an influential politician in his own right, and won a seat to the state legislature in 1850. Upon his 1855 election to U.S. Congress, Talbot sold this property, which he had named Melrose, to Charles Hannah Rochester, Sr. Rochester had the house built shortly thereafter. The property was sold at auction upon Rochester's death in 1863 and passed through several hands until acquired by Granville Cecil and his wife Emma, who was A. G. Talbot's daughter, in 1878. Melrose is a two-story, five-bay brick dwelling of Greek Revival design. It is situated in the gently rolling terrain of the Bluegrass Region in northeastern Boyle County, Kentucky, and is about a mile and three quarters northwest of the county seat, Danville, and a little less than two miles from the Mercer County line. The property is located on the east side of U.S. 127 (Harrodsburg Road), and the house, which faces westward toward the highway, sits at the end of a long drive of approximately eight hundred feet and on a small, cleared knoll.


Robinson House - Quietdale, Huntsville Alabama

The house was erected for Mrs. Caroline Moore Robinson, widow of Madison County sheriff William (Black Bill) Robinson. A Virginia-born planter and speculator, Robinson had accumulated vast landholdings in Alabama and Mississippi by the time of his death in 1852, at the premature age of forty-four. Documentary evidence hints that the noted Huntsville architect George Steele or his son, Matthew W. Steele, may be responsible for the design and construction of Quietdale. The younger Steele, though never to achieve a reputation comparable to that of his father, intermittently practiced as an architect in Huntsville during the 1850s. George Steele himself died in the fall of 1854. But a note among his estate papers refers to a debt of $1131.66 due from the Estate of Wm Robinson for the bal[ance] of work furnished by M.W.S. Executor, payable on January 1, 1856. Certainly the original plan of the house followed George Steele's predilection for separating the formal interior spaces from the more intimate family living area Thus a forty-two foot long drawingroom suite lay to the right of an entrance vertibule; to the left was a series of smaller and more informally disposed rooms extending into a rear ell. Directly behind the foyer, two stairhalls with parallel stairways led to completely separate bedroom suites on the upper floor. Why the upper floor was partitioned is not entirely clear: whether to isolate the guest chambers, or in deference to the custom observed in far more primitive Alabama houses of the period, of carefully separating the boys' and girls' sleeping quarters.


Kildare Mansion - McCormick House, Huntsville Alabama

Kildare's builder Michael O'Shaughnessy was a northern capitalist who, with his brother James, was looking for investment and development situations in the South during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. They settled on Huntsville, a town of 5,000 persons that had never revived following the Civil War, where they built and purchased homes and began buying large tracts of land and buildings. It was through the O'Shaughnessy's influence that additional wealthy outsiders were attracted to Huntsville as a town with great development potential. It was this group of northern investors and self-styled town builders, associated with prominent local businessmen, that provided the money, the connections, and the know-how to package and sell Huntsville as an industrial and resort site. Before the O'Shaughnessys moved on, they were chiefly responsible for the creation of Dallas Manufacturing Company and of East Huntsville Addition (a major suburb), the construction of the resort facility called Monte Sano Hotel, the refurbishing of the Huntsville Hotel, and the establishment of a large cotton seed oil plant. However, many of their colleagues remained in Huntsville and continued to establish or attract additional cotton textile mills and various other smaller industries, which created the economic basis for the town's postbellum recovery. The second owner of Kildare, Mary Virginia McCormick, was the daughter of Cyrus Hall McCormick of reaper fame. Although she spent only a few months in Huntsville each year, if at all, she was responsible for much philanthropic work in the town. She took a particular interest in the living conditions of the several mill villages that had grown up around the town (as a result of the O'Shaughnessy's initial efforts) and coerced the mill directors into providing better health care and recreation facilities for the operatives by offering matching funds for settlement houses and YMCA's.


Angels Flight Cable Railway, Los Angeles California

The property was first constructed in 1901 to provide efficient transportation between the city's commercial core and the top of Bunker Hill. New cars were constructed in 1905. A new station house, designed by noted Los Angeles architects Train & Williams, and an entrance arch were added in 1910. The period of significance begins in 1905 and ends circa 1945. The Flight operated continuously until 1969 when it was dismantled and stored as part of an urban renewal program. Twenty-five years later, the original elements of Angels Flight was removed from storage, rehabilitated, and reinstalled within the same city block slightly south of and parallel to its original location on the hill. Angels Flight operates in its historic function, carrying passengers up and down Bunker Hill's steep eastern slope in downtown Los Angeles. One of only six incline railways still extant and operating in the United States, Angels Flight represents a now extremely rare property type. The incline railway was originally developed to serve two different needs: industrial and passenger. According to incline railway historian Donald Duke, The first known incline railway in the United States was constructed in 1762, at Lewiston, New York. It was used to haul merchandise up and down the Niagara escarpment, near what is now the border between the United States and Canada. The application of cable rail technology to incline rails spurred their greatest period of construction in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, with most constructed between 1880 and 1910.


Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills California

As the first major hotel to be constructed in the rapidly growing community of Beverly Hills since 1912, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is representative of the quality of commercial architecture built in the city during its prime period of development. Associated with one of the city's most influential citizens, the hotel was constructed in 1927 for Walter G. McCarty, a real estate developer who once owned a quarter of the city, and was designed by the eminent Southern California architectural firm of Walker and Eisen in the Second Renaissance Revival style. The structure is the most prominent example of this noted firm's work in Beverly Hills. It was one of the first major buildings to be constructed on Wilshire Boulevard, and acted as an anchor for that street's commercial development. From its inception, the hotel has catered to many notables, including film stars, wealLthy business and social luminaries, and visiting royalty. Walter G. McCarty, the founder of the establishment, was instrumental in the development of the southern half of Beverly Hills. To draw attention to the tracts of residential homesites he controlled and to demonstrate his faith in the community's potential for growth and as a desirable destination, he commissioned the firm of Walker and Eisen to create a nine story hostelry on Wilshire Boulevard in the center of the city. Percy Eisen and Albert Walker were among the premier architectural firms in the area. Particularly renowned for their traditional Second Renaissance Revival designs, the pair had been in partnership for eight years when the hotel was commissioned, and would continue until 1941, during that time providing to Los Angeles and its environs buildings of exceptional merit. The Beverly Wilshire is the most famous of their work in hotel design; others in the area are the Hollywood Plaza, the Gaylord Apartment Hotel, and the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego. Significant examples of their commercial work include the California Lutheran Hospital; the Taft Building in Hollywood; Security Title Insurance, Fine Arts/Signal Oil, and California Fruit Growers Exchange in Los Angeles; Bay Cities Guaranty in Santa Monica; and the City Hall, Civic Auditorium, Public Library, and Police Station in Torrance, California. Both Walker and Eisen were natives of California. Percy Eisen gained his training in the office of his father, Theodore; Albert Walker trained at Brown University in Rhode Island before working in the offices of prominent Southern California architects Parkinson and Bergstrum, A.F. Rosenheim, and Hunt and Grey. By 1924, the firm of Walker and Eisen were obtaining a large percentage of the contracts for height-limit buildings in the Los Angeles area, employing over fifty draftsmen. The Beverly Wilshire is a prime example of their work in the area of housing for the tourist trade, an apartment-hotel which provided for all the amenities wealthy travellers had come to expect from a resort facility, yet also contained provisions for extended stays and the privacy of a residence. The conservative design represented a combination of traditional styles, yet a continuity was achieved through the architects' use of well-proportioned spaces and the judicious use of decorative elements. The Beaux Arts tradition appealed to owner McCarty, who imported the finest materials from Europe, including Carrara marble, for use in the execution of Walker and Eisen's design. The design of the hotel exhibits a number of the characteristics associated with the style, including the tripartite composition of the facade, its street level arcade, classical embellishment, and use of terra cotta. The construction was supervised by the William Simpson Company. Interior decoration was done by noted muralist and designer Anthony B. Heinsbergen. Furnishings were from Barker Brothers, a Southern California furniture dealer who dominated the market in the 1920s.

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