Archives For national register of historic places

exuberantly round

September 29, 2013 — 5 Comments

A novelty style round house in Eads, Colorado, was recently entered on the National Register of Historic Places. Named the Crow-Hightower House after two of its early owners, the house has a conical entrance, a crenellated cornice, walls of contrasting brick, and an “exuberant” circular form. Here is the house in 1955, a few years after it was built –

eads round house

The NRHP registration form includes historical information about round houses in the US, noting that they are relatively rare both in Colorado and nationally. Apparently the builder of the Crow-Hightower House, Warren A. Portrey, had previously built another round house just outside of Eads, and went on to build two more circular structures in Oregon.

Portrey’s son Ron recalled that Portrey, who was always interested in new things, was eager to build more round houses. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get people interested in them because they were “not conventional” and “not the same style everybody else was building.” Portrey built the two Oregon structures — a house and a workshop — for himself.


The Orcutt House, on sale in Worthington, Ohio, consists of two intersecting circles, one forming the body of the house and the other forming a smaller kitchen area.  Designed by architect Theodore van Fossen in 1958, it is a single story structure on a 0.7 acre lot.

rush creek village round house

The house is part of a residential community called Rush Creek Village, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s principles of organic architecture. Made up of 49 single-family houses linked by a system of curvilinear streets, the neighborhood and each of its homes were designed by van Fossen, who had worked for Wright on construction projects in the late 1930s in Indiana.

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Pioneering African-American architect Joseph W. Robinson designed this modernist round house in 1956, at a time when architecture as a profession was largely closed to black Americans –

The house is located in the iconic African-American neighborhood of Collier Heights, built to house the cream of black, middle-class Atlanta.  Residents like the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and attorney Donald B. Hollowell organized civil rights protests, led get-out-the-vote efforts, and changed the world for the better.

Collier Heights was built by blacks for blacks and financed by blacks,” said Juanita Abernathy, Reverend Abernathy’s widow.

Collier Heights has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. During African-American History Month, the National Register of Historic Places is highlighting some of the historic properties that exemplify African-American achievement.


That’s how Life magazine described this 1957 modernist showpiece, designed by architect Cecil Alexander, who studied under Bauhaus masters Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius at Harvard in the 1940s –

Located in Atlanta’s wealthy Buckhead neighborhood, the house was falling apart when Theodore and Susan Pound bought it in 2005.  They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring it, relying, in part, on blueprints and advice from the original architect.

“You seem so normal to us, you don’t seem like a contrarian,” Mr. Pound told [Cecil Alexander] recently. “But this house is such a basically nonconformist idea. It’s still something of a mystery to me: why is it round?”

Mr. Alexander, a jovial raconteur with a razor-sharp memory, has an explanation for everything. “My first plans were L’s or squares or rectangles,” he told the Pounds. “But then I realized those shapes waste so much space — a circle is compact, it gives you the maximum interior room for the minimum amount of exposed wall.”

The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2010. The registration form explains that Alexander built the house for his family’s use, and that the circular plan ensured that the family would get together at least once or twice a day. As the architect told Progressive Architecture in a 1959 interview, “lt was our conception that the family should feel itself a unit — thus, the circular plan …. The central covered and sky-lighted court has constituted a constant place of meeting.”

robert moses in the round

October 15, 2011 — 2 Comments

In Long Island, New York, “an exercise in how to fit circles together” –

Designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison in the 1930s, the Harrison Estate served as a laboratory for Harrison’s architectural ideas. “The home’s signature element, the circle, is found in the forms of the living room, small former dining room, pool, and even concrete pavers used for walkways . . . . Amongst the many artists and friends whom enjoyed the house were Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Mary Callery, Robert Moses, and Le Corbusier.”

“He builds landmarks,” Time Magazine said of Harrison in 1952.

His Long Island house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

An unlikely sight in Wells County, North Dakota –

According to the National Register of Historic Places, which listed the house in 1997, it was built in 1900 by Elgin Hurd.  It’s located in the middle of nowhere, a few miles south of Hurdsfield.


Inspired by a Scottish turret, this 1872 granite round house in Lowell, Massachusetts, has fifteen rooms that wind around a stunning circular staircase.

Known as the Bowers Round House after its original owner, Jonathan Bowers, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. According to the owner of the house, Bowers was “a local industrialist who owned a granite quarry, a carriage factory, and an amusement park.”

The interior is spectacular, featuring an oval living room and a round dining room. Other notable features are the house’s arched windows, pedimented dormers, round bays, and round granite chimneys.

1850s round house

August 19, 2010 — 2 Comments

A very old round house in Somerville, a Boston suburb:

According to Apartment Therapy, “The story is that the Round House was built in 1856 by inventor and manufacturer, Enoch Robinson. Robinson owned a Boston company that manufactured high-end decorative hardware — window fasteners, knobs, hand-made lock mechanisms, door handles, escutcheons– which you can still see in Boston’s State House and Old City Hall. He was also an inventor who designed and built perpetual motion machines in his spare time.”

“We’ve read that Robinson had been annoyed that a previous house which he had built was copied by local builders, so he brought in a specialized team from France to build a totally unique structure. When they were finished, he immediately sent them back home. The design of his round house was based on that of the Column House in the French “folly garden” of Desert de Retz in Chambourcy.”

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As of 2007, it looked to be in very poor shape.

A round house in Haydenville, Ohio, built in 1911, is on the National Register of Historic Places

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