by Vincent Wilcke
I’ve had my eye on 331 Barnard Street in Savannah, GA, since it was first listed on CIRCA, way back when the site was brand new. Built in 1844, this detached town house is situated on Pulaski Square in the heart of the city’s Landmark District. Complete with a generous porch, walled garden and beautiful detailing, this magnificent home is rich with historic charm, and (in my humble opinion) worth every penny of its $1,800,000 asking price!
All listing photos courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.
In appearance, the house retains an austere and delicate classicism that is characteristic of Federal style houses from the early-nineteenth century. Yet, the house’s construction date of 1844 makes it a somewhat late example of this type of architecture. By the 1840s urbane Americans were transitioning away from the Federal style in favor of the Greek Revival as well the early Romantic Revivals that were promulgated in the United States by Alexander Jackson Davis. 331 Barnard Street’s design is a good example of the conservative nature of many American builders, who would continue to produce well-selling vernacular forms long after new architectural styles had been established.
The home’s outstanding porch overlooks its walled garden.
The fanlight, seen over the home’s front door, was an architectural detail that gained popularity in the early-nineteenth century.
When 331 Barnard Street was built, its interior would have appeared very different than the way it looks today. The two rooms on the main floor would have been utilized as a set of double parlors, with the front parlor being used only for formal entertaining. On special occasions, the house’s pocket doors would have been opened, and the two rooms used as one larger entertaining space. Families often would use the back parlor for serving refreshments or for formal dining, however it would have been unlikely that a dining table and chairs would have been permanently set up. When not entertaining, a family would often spend time in more casual rooms furnished with older furniture located in the house’s raised basement.
The home’s double parlors are separated by pocket doors.
In terms of decoration, the taste of Americans in the 1840s seem almost garish to modern eyes. At 331 Barnard Street, wall-to-wall carpeting would have covered the house’s hard wood floors, which only came into vogue in the twentieth century as a reaction to Victorian excess. During the 1840s, fitted carpets were used throughout the public rooms in houses and were often of busy geometric patterns. Gold, white and crimson were particularly popular as interior colors during the 1830s and 1840s. The Rococo Revival, which was an interior design style only, was thought to be most appropriate in the decoration of parlors and drawing rooms. The front parlor at 331 Barnard Street would likely have been outfitted with two sofas, two armchairs, four side chair (all upholstered in matching silk), a center table and an étagère to display decorative arts.
An 1850s Rococo Revival sofa by John H. Belter. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The interior of the Merchant’s House Museum, in New York City, is a good example of what 331 Barnard Street might have looked like when it was first constructed. Arguably a higher-style residence, the Merchant’s House Museum contains many of the same elements as 331 Barnard Street including the raised basement and double parlors. In the photo below, note the wall-to-wall carpeting and Rococo Revival furniture.
The double parlors at the Merchant’s House Museum. Photo courtesy of the Merchant‘s House Museum.
Personally, I am glad 331 Barnard Street has evolved over the ages and am in love with the current appointment of the house’s rooms (those rugs are incredible!). I say its time to leave New York’s frigid winters behind and start making my southern trek to Savannah.
For more information on this beauty, check out the complete listing on CIRCA or on Sotheby’s International Realty.
AUTHOR VINCENT WILCKE
A Portland, Oregon native, Vincent is particularly interested in historic interiors and decorative arts. His love for historic architecture was indulged at an early age by his parents, who kindly accompanied him on countless tours of historic houses and sites. Vincent lives in South Harlem with his partner, Nate, and their formally feral cat named Edna.