Franklin Johnson Mansion

Front (east) elevation of Johnson House, View west; Source : NRIS 98001420.
Historic/Common Name:
Franklin and Harriet Johnson House
Address:
153 South Main Street
Town:
Wallingford »
Year:
1866
Historic Designation:
LHP, NR, NRHD, SR
Property Authority:
Historic Properties Commission, Wallingford
Nature of Authority:
Regulatory
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
Yes
General description:

The Franklin Johnson House is a two-story Italianate-style building constructed in 1866 of brick covered with a light coat of cement, which is scored to resemble ashlar. The house faces east on the main street, about one-third of a mile south of Wallingford's downtown central intersection in a residential neighborhood comprised of historic houses of similar size and spacing. A heavy cast-iron fence standing on a low wall of rock-faced brownstone blocks runs across the front of the house at the lot line. Its balusters resemble lyres in shape. A bluestone walk leads up to the low hip-roofed wooden front porch. Chief features of the seven-foot-deep full-width porch are its cast-iron railing of arched balusters that encompass vertical and diamond motifs and the distinctive wooden columns connected by the railing. The tapered fluted columns, which are supported on high hexagonal pink granite pedestals, rise from tall turned bases to plain banded capitals and individual entablatures, and to brackets under the overhanging porch roof. The four columns at the front of the porch are complemented by two engaged half-columns at the returns. The foundation of the porch on the south side displays in masonry the construction date "A.D. 1866." The mass of the house is essentially a 34' x 32' cube, plus front porch and rear addition. [NR]

Significance of the property:

Architecture: The Franklin Johnson House, built in 1866, is a well-preserved example of an Italianate-style building designed by an unknown architect after the manner which Henry Austin (1804-1891) made famous with his James Dwight Dana House (1849) on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut. The Johnson House, a simple cube in mass with widely overhanging eaves, is distinguished by exotic trim of plantlike columns and by its masonry construction, made to resemble ashlar by scribing, both of which clearly take inspiration from the precedent set by Austin. In mid-19th-century Connecticut, a version of the Italianate house consisting of a cube under low-pitched roof and broad roof overhang, usually embellished with classical trim, was widely popular. The style, initially based on the vernacular farmhouses of the Italian countryside, was developed by English architects such as John Nash, brought to the United States by John Notman of Philadelphia, and popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing as part of the Picturesque movement. In the interpretation of the style as seen in the Johnson House, the basic boxy mass is quite plain, depending for its architectural statement on the wide roof overhang and character-defining trim features. [NR]

Relationship with the Surroundings:

The Johnson House is sited toward the front of a flat parcel of 2/3 acre with shade trees located on the sides and toward the rear. An original masonry outhouse and ca.1900 frame barn are in the backyard.

Features:
Main house, outhouse and barn
Historic Use:
Single Dwelling
Present Use:
Museum
Architectural Style:
Late Victorian/ Italianate
Era:
19th Century
Ownership:
Private
Owner:
_
Sources:

[1] Historic property information retrieved from the town website http://www.town.wallingford.ct.us/.
[2] Franklin and Harriet Johnson Mansion, Historic Properties Study Report, Wallingford, 1998, SHPO library, Hartford.
[NR] Ransom David F., Reviewed by Herzan John F., Franklin Johnson House, Wallingford, National Register Nomination Number- 98001420 NRIS, National Park Service, 1998. http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/98001420.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/photos/98001420.pdf.

Map:

Atlas of 1868 showing the location of Johnson House on South Main Street; Source - NRIS 98001420.

View photo
Date of Compilation:
12/31/11
Compiler:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation