Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hidden Plainfield: Moorish Revival in Plainfield

The sun caught the exotic brick work just right.
Today's Hidden Plainfield may not be much of a mystery, but the light was just right the other day for some good photos of this home with exotic brickwork and some 'Moorish' touches. (The most prominent of these, unfortunately, were on the shadowed side of the house.)

My guess is it was built in the 1870s or -80s, when Americans were infatuated with things vaguely 'Moorish' -- including everything from Moorish Spain to North Africa to the Ottoman Empire to Egypt.

Architecturally, stylistic signatures include bulbous arches, glazed brick or tile work, and strongly contrasting brick colors and banding.

Arched window under eaves is suggestive of 'Moorish Revival' influences.

Exotic brick work makes this Moorish-inspired home unique.
Moorish Revival buildings range from Frederick Church's estate 'Olana', now a museum near the Tappan Zee Bridge (see here) to synagogues in both Europe and the United States.

Synagogues in the style reflected the idea that Jews had experienced a 'golden age' in Moorish Spain. American synagogues in the Moorish Revival style include New York's Eldridge Street Synagogue (see here) and the original Congregation Emanu-El (see here). The style was also adopted by many Shriner Temples as well as movie palaces of the 1920s.

Do you know where this home is?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rob said...

Madison between West 8th ( shout out to my hood ! ) and West 7th.

Michael Townley said...

Madison Avenue between W. 7 and W. 8 Streets, next to the United Family parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the stylistic history of this house on Madison between 7th and 8th. I thought it was Romanesque (the arches aren't obviously bulbous), a popular style at the time that's underrepresented in Plainfield, but always wondered what inspired the fancy brickwork. Maybe it was a compromise between styles that appealed to the husband and the wife- Romanesque form with Moorish brickwork.

Anonymous said...

Madison Avenue. I remember when this property was boarded up. One of a kind in Plfd. Dan, how about doing two or more of a kind homes. We have a very nice collection of twin homes sometimes on the same block other times in different neighborhoods.


Dan said...

This was not a toughie for readers, but it was as far as characterizing it.

Probably fair to call it a Queen Anne influenced by the Aesthetic Movement and Moorish Revival.

Seems likely to me that there must have been an original porch that is now missing.

And thank God it was saved from being demolished, even if it has to find continued life as a multi-family.

Excellent suggestion, MP. I will put 'twins' into the hopper.