The Bostwick Avenue Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
The Bostwick Avenue Historic District's growth was a direct result of the continued twentieth century growth in Janesville. According to the 1891 plat map for Janesville, the area just north of this district was not developed, but by 1910, 27 houses had been built and many more were added during the 1920s. The development of large, period revival, houses built in the eastern area of the Courthouse Hill Historic District continued east of the district until reaching this area in the 1920s and 1930s. Three large houses were built in this district in 1932, 1937, and around 1940, suggesting that this area is at the boundary between pre- and post-World War II development.
The District is architecturally significant for its small, but distinctive, period revival style houses clustered in a group that is geographically separate from its neighbors. The houses in the district are from the Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival styles and each of the houses has both typical and unusual style features that reflect their date of construction. For example, the houses from the 1920s are more typical of common period revival architecture. The later-constructed houses show a modernism that reflects their dates of construction.
The period revival styles were popular between 1900 and 1940 and include styles such as the Georgian, Colonial, and Tudor Revival. Some period revival houses were designed to almost replicate houses from the original styles, but most were new adaptations of the old styles. The period revival styles were so popular in the twentieth century that even small, modest, houses were given historic style elements. The most popular of the period revival styles were the Georgian, Colonial and Tudor Revival. The Georgian and Colonial Revival styles featured formal and symmetrical plans, symmetrical openings, often of multi-light sashes, and classical details, such as returned eaves, pediments, pilasters, dentils, and modillions. Georgian Revival houses are generally more formal and heavily detailed with an emphasis on a central entry pavilion and portico. The Tudor Revival style has several variations, all based on forms of English Tudor castles, houses, and cottages.
All seven of the buildings in this district are examples of either the Colonial or Tudor Revival styles. All are good examples of the style, but with different interpretations. The best and most traditional of the Colonial Revival styles is the Grubb house (1128 Grace St.), built in 1929. This house has the typical features of the style, including symmetrical fenestration and simple classical details. It is a well-proportioned house that has the distinctive formal elegance expected of the style.
Next door is a good example of the Dutch Colonial Revival variation of the Colonial Revival style. This house is typical of this style as interpreted in a modest, more middle-class, home. It has the distinguishing gambrel roof that is a hallmark of the style. The remainder of the house is symmetrical, with simple classical details, like the main entrance. Although not as large and elaborate as other examples of the style in Janesville, it illustrates the range of interpretations of this popular style. The Henry Bogardus House (418 Bostwick Ave.), built in 1937, is a very good example of a popular variation of the Colonial Revival style, the Cape Cod house. It emerged in smaller, cottage-style, versions in Janesville during the 1930s, and remained popular into the 1940s and 1950s. But, there are few large-scale or more high-style examples like this house from that period. The main block of the house has a simple rectangular form with projecting dormers that is not unlike smaller versions of the style. But, the added ell gives the house a larger size and complexity. Prior to the application of vinyl siding, the house was covered with wood shingles, which added to its colonial Cape Cod appearance, but even with the new siding, the house retains its overall form and massing and style elements as a good example of this Colonial Revival variation.
The largest of the Tudor Revival style houses, the Tait house (436 Bostwick Ave., c. 1940), is the most modern interpretation of the style. The overall form and massing, the stone exterior, wooden gable peaks, and grouped windows of the house are all features of the style. But, these features seem somewhat stripped down and modern. The windows, for example, are not decorative casements, but more simple sashes. The stone veneer, although attractive, is not accented by different materials, such as half-timber or different types of stone accents. The inset second story windows create an almost flat modern-looking surface rather than a picturesque appearance that turrets and extensive dormers would provide. Overall, it is the lack of added ornamentation, rather than the abundance of it, that makes this house distinctive. Its construction date close to World War II may provide important information on how this style was beginning to be modernized in the mid-twentieth century.
More traditional are the Kardux house (410 Bostwick Ave., 1927) and the Pember house (426 Bostwick Ave., 1932). These houses have the steeply-pitched rooflines typical of the Tudor Revival style and their exterior details are most commonly seen. For example, the Kardux house has a stucco covering accented by half-timbering suggesting an English cottage. The irregular windows with picturesque hoods also promote the idea of the English cottage. The Pember house has a more common brick exterior, but the windows and corners are liberally decorated with stone accents and the multi-light casements are typical of the style. Both are modest-sized houses without the "mansion" quality of the Tait house, but their features reflect a more decorative version of the style.
The onset of the Great Depression may have had an impact on the construction of the Tudor Revival houses. The Kardux house, built in 1927, is the most typical of modest-sized Tudor Revival houses in the city. The Pember house, built in 1932, is slightly less picturesque, which may be a result of a belt tightening on the part of the owner or an early modernization of the style. The Tait house, although very large, has a more stripped-down appearance that may be both a result of the modernization of the style and economic conditions of the times.
‡ Carol Lohry Cartwright, Consultant for the City of Janesville, Bostwick Avenue Historic District, Rock County, Wisconsin, nomination document, 2005, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Bostwick Avenue • Grace Street