Historic Structures

Building Description Brelsford House - The Banyans, Palm Beach Florida

Including the piazza the east-west dimensions are approximately 77'-4" and the north-south, measures 91'- 4". The front ell of the house is five bays wide, the central bay fronted by a tetrastyle colossal portico which is in turn flanked by a one-story three-bay colonnaded piazza. The shape is irregular, with lateral and corner projecting bays, and in height is two stories and an attic over a basement.

The basement contains a room for the electric furnace and another for trunk storage.

First floor: A wide central hallway extends through the house in an east-west direction. South of the entrance there is a parlor on the west and a library behind it on the east. North of the hallway is a second parlor with a five-sided open bay on the northwest corner, and a dining room behind it, on the east of which, in line in a projecting wing, lie the pantry, kitchen, and service rooms.

The second floor has three bedrooms extending across the west front and an adjoining bath and bedroom on the north and south. Two bedrooms and a bath are in the second floor of the service wing.

The Attic floor consists of three servants' bedrooms, a full bath, and space for a ladder to the roof deck.

Entrance hall: Floors are hardwood with an 11" baseboard. Walls and ceiling are painted plaster with coved cornice of two molded elements. The picture molding, 8" below the cornice, is continuous with the trim at the head of the window. Paneled doors to the south parlor and to the dining room are double, 3'-0", sliding into side pockets in the wall. The wide cased opening to the north parlor is flanked By 3'-0" high paneled pedestals on which are Tuscan wood columns, well spaced from Tuscan pilasters at the wall.

The 5'-0" wide stairway is mounted on the south wall of the entrance hall. There are 18 risers to the second floor. The molded handrail and newels are stained dark and the slender spiraled balusters are white. The handrail curves around the bottom newel. The arched opening under the landing is supported by a fluted pier and pilaster. There are warm air registers in the floor and wall, in addition to a radiator.

North parlor: Entered by the Tuscan-columned opening from the hall, the basic rectangular plan of the north parlor is broken at the northwest corner by an open five-sided bay. Floors are hardwood. Walls and ceiling are similar to those in the hall. Two 3'- 0" paneled wood sliding doors lead to the dining room on the east. A corner fireplace at a 45 degree angle is faced with glazed tiles and two pairs of columns described as modified Doric, supporting a simple wood mantel. The iron fireback is decorated with acanthus. The electric light fixture in the ceiling is in disrepair. There is both a floor register and a radiator in the room.

Dining room: Floors are hardwood. Walls are painted plaster below the 3'-4" chair rail and wallpapered above. Ceiling is plastered. Cornice and trim are similar to the hall except that there is no picture molding. The fireplace is faced with green glazed tile. Above the denticulated mantel which is supported by columns described as modified Doric, in a wood panel and a second shelf.

South parlor: Floors are similar to other first-floor rooms. All other finishes are typical of those in the hall except that the woodwork retains its natural wood color. The fireplace is faced with glazed green tile. The mantelpiece consists of two fluted wood Ionic columns supporting a classical entablature and mantel. The brick chimney is exposed over the mantel.

Library: Floors and other finishes are typical with coved painted cornice. The baseboard is finished in natural wood color. The corner fireplace is of unglazed terra cotta. The molded terra- cotta mantel is edged with an egg-and-dart molding over bead-and-reel. The terra-cotta panel over the mantel is decorated with fretwork and a beaded edge. The voussoirs in the arched opening also are beaded.

Service area: Floors in the pantry and kitchen are covered in asphalt tile. Walls are plastered below the plate rail and wallpapered above. Ceilings are painted plaster. Service stairs of 18 risers are enclosed in walls faced with 1" vertical beaded wood.

Second-floor rooms: All rooms are bedrooms here with similar finishes. Walls and ceilings are painted plaster. Wood paneled doors are painted, and hallway doors have operating transoms. There are corner fireplaces in the southeast and middle bedroom on the north. These are faced with glazed tile below a classical revival mantel. Hearths have glazed tile.

Attic: The three servants' bedrooms here have walls and sloping ceilings finished with beaded tongue-and-groove boards.