Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Little Bit More on the Wemple Road Greek Revival

I wrote yesterday about the Greek Revival style of architecture.  Today, I thought I would dig up a little bit of info about the family that lived in that abandoned farmhouse on Wemple Road.

This picture of the house is from Bethlehem Revisited, published in 1993.

I started with the 1866 Beers map of Bethlehem.  It labels this site as “W.J. Wemple.”  Just down the road, east of the railroad tracks, today site of the Laborer’s Training Center,  is the label “J. Wemple.”  It appears that these are brothers William James Wemple (1835-1899*) and John Gilbert Wemple (1832-1911). They are the sons of Gilbert Wemple (1801-1871) and Henrietta Winne (1800-1855) who married in 1819 at the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem.  This makes sense because the hamlet here was known as Wemple.  The post office was located in John’s farmstead and there was a station on the nearby West Shore Railroad.  The Wemples were a prominent family in Bethlehem with John being elected supervisor in 1875 and 1876.

The 1860 U.S. census is revealing.  It indicates that Gilbert (farmer, age 58), daughter Maria (age 38) and son William (farmer, age 25) lived in the farmhouse at the top of the hill along with three young men listed as farm laborers (Peter VanZandt, Phillip Smith and John Brown.) They are listed right next door to John (farmer, age 28) his wife Elsie (dress maker, age 27) and their son Gilbert age 2.  Also living with them is Susan McEwen, age 65, who appears to be Elsie’s mother.

Time marches on and the 1870 census shows some important changes.

The property at the top of the hill is now in the hands of the Lamoraux family. Husband and wife William and Elizabeth are living there with their four children, (Maus, Phebe, Agnes and Susan).  Three domestic servants are also listed (Mary Frazier, R. McDonald and Thom Rowland).

At the bottom of the hill, it appears that father and daughter Gilbert and Maria have moved in with John.  John’s wife Elsie (or Eliza in some records) died in 1867 at age 33.  Her mother, Susan McEwen, is still living in the household along with John and Elsie’s children Gilbert and Elizabeth.

The 1891 Beers map shows Lamoreaux and Wemple. (Courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection.)

So, that is just a little about the Wemple family.  The Lamoraux family appears to be French Huguenots.   One, and I am not sure if they are related, named Vilitta Lamareaux (1790-1876) married Alexander Borthwick.  You might be familiar with Borthwick Avenue in Delmar.

*While most records (census, baptismal) indicate William was born in 1835, Findagrave.com has a photo of his cemetery marker with a birth year of 1837.  Other dates are roughly calculated and meant to give a general idea birth and death.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Greek Revival Style in Bethlehem

Some of my favorite buildings in town are the Greek Revival farm houses, especially this one on Wemple Road.

Why the old, abandoned and desolate appeals to me I don't know. That's a blog post for another day.

Today I am going to share an article I wrote a while back that still resonates. Enjoy!

Greek Inspiration

Bethlehem, like most of the rest of the country, was fascinated by the Greek revival style of architecture in the early to mid 1800s.  Americans, with their commitment to democratic ideals, found the connection to ancient Greece appealing.

The temple front became ubiquitous across America from high style public buildings and banks to common vernacular farmhouses.  Grander buildings sport a large triangular pediment that projects outward, supported by a row of columns, creating an inviting porch-like area. Think of the ancient Greek Parthenon. 

The style filtered down to common homes with the gable of the house turned toward the street helping to create the triangular pediment. Vertical pilasters applied to the corners of the house create the visual suggestion of free standing columns.  The front door is offset to one side with two windows next to it. Details such as dentil molding, entablatures, raking cornices and half round windows come into play with the creativity of the local carpenter/builder and the budget of the owner.

Next time you are driving around town, look for Bethlehem’s Greek temples.  Some, like the Adams House Hotel, Delmar Reformed Church or the Haswell-Houck Tavern, are obvious. Even though their columns are square, their triangular pediments are prominent and pay homage to Greek proportion and style. 

Look for the farmhouses.  Once you start looking for those triangles facing the street, you can spot them easily enough along busy Kenwood Avenue and New Scotland Road,  along country roads like Wemple and Meads Lane or hidden away on side streets like Roweland and Willowbrook Avenues.  Some are brick, some are clapboard.  Keep a sharp eye, and you’ll even find them under vinyl siding with most of the old details removed. 

The four homes pictured below are all located on Kenwood Avenue between Cherry Avenue and Regina Court. 

Here are a couple of sketches from The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture by Rachel Carley with illustrations by Ray Skibinski and Ed Lam to help you with your identification.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Season's Greetings from 1963

This image graced the cover of the 1963 Bethlehem Community Christmas Festival program booklet..

Do you recognize the Four Corners? Look for I Love Books' distinctive roof line.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Season's Greetings from about 1970

For many years this creche scene circulated among Delmar's churches.  It is seen here in front of Delmar Reformed.