Historic Structures

Building Description Davis House - Albany Little Theatre, Albany Georgia

The John A, Davis House/Albany Little Theatre is a two-story, brick, Italianate Villa, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, with a turn-of-the century Neoclassical front porch and a contemporary theater attached to the rear. It stands on a small city lot in a residential neighborhood near downtown Albany.

The main body of the John A. Davis House, the 1853 Italianate Villa part of this building, is square in plan, cubical in massing, two stories high, and hip-roofed. Centrally located on the front (north) facade is a projecting, square-sectioned, two-story tower containing the front entry on its ground floor, A similar tower is located to the rear of the east side of the house. Windows and doorways are tall and narrow, with flat-arched brick lintels. On the front facade, two ground-floor windows have been converted into doors; upstairs windows feature shutters. The cornice consists of a brick frieze set off by a brick beltcourse, wooden brackets, and broad eaves. The entire house, including foundations, is constructed of brick laid in common bond.

The interior of the house consists of a central stair hall flanked by rooms at either floor level, On the ground floor, the rooms on either side of the hall feature double sliding doors; upstairs, the four rooms communicate only with the hall, Window frames range from relatively simple-eared architrave moldings to pedimented cornices. Fireplaces present a variety of Classically inspired mantels. High baseboards and thick crown moldings finish off the rooms. Walls and ceilings are plaster, and the floors are hardwood. The central hall is divided into a front foyer and rear stairway by a screenwall consisting of pilasters, an Ionic column, a paneled parapet wall, and an entablature. The stairway is of the half-turn-with-landing configuration.

The Neoclassical front porch was added to the house shortly after the turn of the century. It consists of a projecting two-story central portico flanked by recessed one-story porches. The portico, attached to the front tower, features three monumental Corinthian columns at each front corner supporting a massive entablature with modillioned cornice. The porches feature similar, but smaller, Corinthian columns supporting a dentilled entablature. These porches run across the full width of the front of the house and wrap around the east side. Where the one-story porch passes through the two-story portico, it is surmounted by a balustrade.

The theater was added to the rear of the house in the mid- to late-1960s. It is built of brick, about three stories high, and is very plain and utilitarian in its character and appearance. Inside the theater is contained an auditorium and a stage. The auditorium has a tile floor and an exposed wood-truss ceiling. The stage, raised four steps above the auditorium floor, features a Neoclassical proscenium with paired pilasters at either end and a dentilled entablature above. The theater extends virtually from one side of the lot to the other and acts as a screen behind the house. Its construction entailed no structural changes to the house other than closing the windows in the rear (south) wall.

When originally built in 1853, the John A. Davis House consisted of an Italianate Villa with its central brick tower flanked by low, one-story wooden porches with Italianate detailing. Davis 1 son, Joseph, added the Neoclassical portico and porches during the first decade of the twentieth century. He also opened up the four ground-floor rooms into two larger parlors and modernized the services and utilities. The Albany Little Theatre restored the house and added the theater in the mid- to late-1960s.