Historic Structures

Building Description Robinson House - Quietdale, Huntsville Alabama

Quietdale is a two-story frame structure on a continuous brick foundation. The main block of the house measures 60 feet across by 44 feet deep, and breaks into a 20 by 32-foot ell at the northwest rear. The foundation, pierced by large wooden grilles morticed into cedar frames, raises the clapboarded superstructure four feet above grade-level. The roof configuration is that of a truncated hip, capped by an unglazed monitor forming the base of a rooftop deck. Over the ell is a shallow half-hip extension. Prominent stuccoed chimneys--a pair on each side and one at the end of the ell—buttress the exterior walls. The chimneys are neither flush nor completely extruded, but instead project a few inches fron the main wall plane in a colloquial treatment to be seen elsewhere in the Huntsville area (e.g. Greenlawn). Single-story porches at the front and west side have slender octagonal supports whose corbeled caps form the base for a series of flat Tudoresque aches. An L-shaped two-tiered porch occupies the reentrant angle between the main block and the ell, and is composed of superimposed colonnettes of the more conventional Tuscan order. Sashing is six-over-six, while window openings are over four feet wide--matching the expansive scale of the house. An idiosyncratic feature is the odd wooden beltcourse that forms the transitional element between the brick foundation and the clapboarded walls above.

Heavily paneled double-leaf doors framed by ruby-glass etched with a grape motif open into the foyer. The interior follows a highly developed axial-hall plan, both upstairs and down with no vestige of the former partitional arrangement that once distinguished the house. Paneled sliding doors connect the double parlors to the right of the foyer each of which contains a white marble mantelpiece. Doorknobs in the formal area of the house are silver-plated.

Except for a small utility addition at the rear of the ell, and extension of the adjoining porch to connect with the adjacent servants' quarters, exterior changes have been negligible.

The two-story servants' quarters directly behind the main structure contains three large rooms on each floor and is 54 by 30 feet in its overall dimensions An inset double porch runs the length of the main or west elevation, while the ridge of the gable roof is broken by two interior chimneys serving back-to-back fireplaces in each of the rooms. At the north end of the building, a gabled shed encloses the steps which lead to an enormous brick-walled cellar.

Aroroximately thirty yards north of the house and servants' quarters is a small 20th-century garage and just beyond, a gabled late-19th century frame barn. A horse shoe-shaped drive circles in front of the house, and scattered about the lawn are a few ornamental shrubs and cedars, recalling the manicured grounds that surrounded the house during the ante-bellum period.