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Feature Article on Victorian-style homes. TOPIC: BUILDINGS
Written by Jean Rogers in August, 1998


Great news! Sidney has treasures—hidden treasures. They’re not buried in the ground, but under insipid coats of white paint if painted at all. People drive by them daily without noticing them, but it is encouraging to see some of these beauties being restored.

I’m speaking of the unusual and attractive millwork seen most frequently on the houses in Sidney constructed during the mid to late 1800’s —the famous Victorian era homes. In some areas, where these houses appear in several bright colors, they are called "painted ladies."

A closer acquaintance with these painted ladies can be gained through a driving tour of the older portions of the city. Spotting and identifying them can be fun and instructional even to those of us who couldn’t tell a corbel from a spandrel. You can see the unusual windows, the framing, and other details that are or could be definite attributes to the city. Many of our fine older homes were constructed by Joseph Altenbach, master builder. Among his credits are St. Remy’s Catholic Church in Russia, Holy Angels, and our handsome Children’s Home. These and other buildings with historical value cry out to be preserved as they are a part of Shelby County’s history.

A particular area to explore is the eastern corner of Miami Avenue and Canal Streets. The corner house has the proper sort of windows, interesting millwork on the porch, and a sunburst. What a challenge! The house next door has a side porch with a necklace trim and the third house has fish scale trim. How many sunbursts have you seen around town? I drove past one on Miami Street opposite St. Marks church for 25 years, but the white paint disguised it. How many other gems are lying neglected? We must treasure them now before they fall victim to decay.

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Styles changed during Queen Victoria’s long reign. Note outstanding gingerbread details on Del Cabe’s home on South Ohio at left. At right, Farrenkopf’s Victorian shows several attributes of the era. The windows of the tower and the peak with its decorative molding make the house a jewel.


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