A post in another part of this forum has inspired me to expand it in more detail here.
There is a certain house type in Toledo, Ohio that I have been very intrigued over during my research of historic house types that appear to be unique to that city. This type is quite prevalent in an German section of town, known as Lenk's Hill, and found virtually nowhere else. The ones I documented were mostly built between 1882 and 1902, with one or two built as late as 1905.
These houses are characterized by a side gabled roofline, off-center entrance, and a prominent gable pediment, (or "false gable"), usually located off-center in the roofline. What is most unusual about these houses though is that they are usually set way back on the lot with some lacking windows and porches on the front elevation.
I speculate that the original facades were only temporary: As the owner's family grew and acquired more money, an extension was added onto the front (hence the reason for the deep setback) and resulting in the house being changed into a "Gabled Ell" footprint. Indeed there are many gabled Ells in this section of Toledo that look suspiciously like Side Gabled houses with a later Ell extension.
But in one part of town, the Lenk's Hill/Kuschwantz sections, which was predominantly German during this era, many of these houses were never changed. Windows and porches may have been added onto the front, but no gable front extension was ever built.
Here are a few examples, showing many variations in fenestration, but all adhering to the same basic form.
Note how recessed this house is in relation to it's neighbors. Also no windows and no porch.
Before And After Pictures of another setback house.
Unusually decorative examples
Only one window in front and no porch.
Same as above, but with 2nd story window.
This one is a duplicate to the one directly above (note solitary first story front window)
except it has a porch. It was probably a later addition.
Again, the porch is probably not original on these two models, both built about 1893
and similar in treatment.
In this example, both houses have the same side gabled profile. However, the house at
the right extends much further to the front of the lot, while the subject house remains
recessed. Most likely, the house at right was probably once a duplicate to the subject
house but was later added onto the front.
In this example, the gable pediment is more centered than most other examples.
I think these houses are very unique and significant because they appear to have been built by their owners with intention of being added onto later. They may be a truly “Toledo” house type and are some of the last remaining remnants of the original German folk housing from the 1880s and 1890s. But then again, they could have been built all over, but do not survive in their original form elsewhere. (It should be noted that these houses predate any building permits, so it’s impossible to tell if common builders constructed the majority of them or whether they were acquired from or inspired from actual plan books.)
My question though is what style and type would you assign these houses? It's side-gabled orientation with a gable or pediment (though off-center in most cases) seems to evoke the basic Gothic Revival form so would the term Gothic Vernacular be appropriate for these houses? Or is it too plain for even that label? How about house type? I would like to see something more unique than the ubiquitous term Side gabled
Here is the gallery of these house types:
Here is an old ad for a house similar to those above that I found, dated from 1907. The house is two full stories, so it doesn't quite fit into the form of those above, but it is recessed on the lot and has a flush pedimented facade. It was built ca 1901. What is interesting is the ad actually states that the "house arranged so that front could be built on at any time.."
It took a while to trace this property, because there was no address in the ad, but I'm quite certain that the house below is the same house. (Property records show that this lot sold later in 1907). A 1905 Sanborn shows this as the only two-story house on this street that is also recessed on the lot. Later Sanborn maps show a T-Plan, indicating that the house had indeed been added on.
Sanborn Maps - 1905 and 1976
The building permits only state that a $900 basement expansion occurred in 1928. It's possible that it was that late that the front gable was added to this property, but more than likely, judging from the design of the front gable, it's a much earlier expansion, likely ca 1907 to 1915 and no permit was taken out.
Anyway, I think this ad pretty much shows what I have been wondering all along. That there was a type of house in Toledo built during the 1880s and 1890s that was deliberately set back on the lot and arranged parallel to the street with a minimum of fenestration on the front facade in anticipation of future expansion.
One wonders how many more of these things were actually built, but altered so long ago that their original appearance has long since passed out the collective memory of the population because all the original owners, and their children have passed away.