Winterset, Revisited

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I went back to Winterset, Iowa this last weekend to visit family who live nearby, and we went to a fair that was going on in the town’s square.

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The dome of the courthouse has been extensively renovated due to water damage.  In the process, the dome received a new paint scheme

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I’m still trying to figure out if I like the new colors; the old paint seemed to blend much better with the sandstone of the courthouse below it.

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Designed by the French architect Andrew Piquenard, it is an interesting, eclectic building with strong Italianate influences with a very Baroque-style dome (not Renaissance Revival, as the restoration backers state).

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The Winterset town square is one of the best preserved unified Italianate squares I’ve seen.  Just about every building is in that same style, and many of the fragile pediments survive

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I’ve often noted that unique, county-specific regional styles will develop out in the country.  I was stunned by the ornateness of the lintels in on commercial buildings; they are beautifully carved and much more flamboyant than in many parts of the country, where they are more severe.  I wonder if a particularly talented sculptor settled in the area and put his mark on local architecture.

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One Response

  1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood

    10/18/2013, 03:01 pm

    What a beautiful, evocative, name; it reminds me of some dark New England tragedy.
    Actually, it turns out it’s also the name of the Maxwell Anderson play about the Sacco-Vanzetti trial.
    As to how it got its name (from a history):
    “The next order of business was choosing a name for the new town that would arise.

    The favorite was “Summerset”, which may’ve been a play on the name of Pennsylvania’s Somerset county and town. However, that July day happened to be unseasonably cold, prompting one shivering committee member to put forth “Winterset” instead.

    So now you know… Winterset got its name purely by a fluke of nature.”

    Reply

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