by Michael R. Allen
Sometimes there is a house so exuberant and eccentric that even the most seasoned architectural historian can’t help but smile. This house at 3049 Sheridan Avenue in JeffVanderLou is one of those houses. The composition is strange in the best possible way. Here we could have a basic brick two-story Italianate town house with stone front. Yet we don’t have that, because the true mansard roof is somewhat low-pitched with a deep overhang. The trapezoidal front dormer with rounded roof belongs on another house. That dormer doesn’t quite match the dormers on the east side, which have roofs that mimic the roof form of the house itself.
The east side’s trapezoidal bow adds character, and the ornate wooden cornice is continuous on this side. On the west side, where the wall is blind, the wooden cornice makes a transition to some of the most unique brick corbels I’ve seen in St. Louis. This detail is remarkable considering that historically this side was obscured by another house and these details would scarcely have been seen.
The house is occupied and in fair condition. The bright blue paint of the front elevation seems appropriate to the eclectic Gilded Age style of the house. Make no mistake about it — architectural historians love to find such houses.