Beechmont’s Walking Courts – Hilltop and Maple

547962bcThis article was written by Betty Rieber who was a long time BNA member and historic preservationist. I thought some of you who live on Hilltop might enjoy seeing it.

Beechmont”s Bungalow Courts Walking Tour

National Register Bungalows

These Courts are part of the Beechmont/ Southern Heights District.
Bargeboard – a board , often ornately curved, attached to the protecting edges; a gabled roof

Bracket – a support element under eaves or other overhangs, often more decorative than functional

Collar – a band or molding encircling a member at top and bottom

Facade – the exterior face of a building

Gable – a triangular wall segment at the end of a double-pitched or gable roof

Gambriel –a ridged roof with two slide slopes on each side, the lower slope having the steeper pitch

King post – a beam in the frame of a roof, rising from the tie beam to the ridge

Lintel – a horizontal member over a window, doorway or other opening to support the weight above the opening.

Muntin – a small bar separating glass lights in a window

Purlin – horizontal roof members laid over trusses to support rafters.

Sash – an individual frame into which glass is set.

Hill Top Court Preservation History

1 Hilltop Court

Typical mid western bungalow with living room with fireplace, dining room and reasonably sized kitchen, back hall with two bedrooms and bath off of it on the first floor and an enclosed stairwell heading down to the basement and up to the second floor- front dormer which was a finished bedroom. The entire upstairs may be finished into two more bedrooms and a full bath, by now , since the plans were drawn about 20 years ago but I do not know if they were implemented.

The bungalow is very much in keeping with the type built in the 20’s and 30’s. It was owned by Mary and Willie Wood, brother and sister, in 1959. They were elderly then, so I can’t say if they were or weren’t first owners. The enclosure on the front porch is something that has happened on many bungalows, both to increase living space for at least nine months out of the year and as an energy conserver in the winter months, since this is the south side of the house and the sun lays low enough to enter the area under the wide eaves in the winter and in the summer it does not. In the past, the glass was seldom removed in the hot months.

3 Hill Top Court

My favorite , of course, since this is where we had our children and, in betweeen, squeezed every spare inch out of the inside we could. It originally consisted of four rooms down and three and a bath up. It was likely completed in 1911, as were many of the other houses. We found the inscription, Louisville Decorating Services, May 1911, on the second floor hall wall, when we steamed all the old paper off.
It was at one time owned by a Reverand Horton and his wife who raised a very large family in this very modest bungalow. They lived here into old age and that is apparently when the rear was extended to allow another full bath on the first floor and a screend-in porch on the back, which is now incorporated into the kitchen. At some time the rear dormer was extended all across the back to accommodate a fourth, very small room that was roughly finished.
The exterior had been clad in aluminum by someone prior to us and my husband refused to let me get rid of it. The buyer after us , additionally messed up its Arts and Crafts style by cladding the brackets in aluminum in a manner quite foreign, and cutting off one of the cross beams on the front porch, destroying the Adirondack flavor of the house, its style.
I can only guess that It was originally clapboard on the first floor and shakes on the dormers. The roof was originally wood shakes, which our roofer found after he removed three layers of composition shingles. Rather than remove the shakes, the roofer sheathed over them with marine grade plywood. The front porch was enclosed in jalousies by a previous owner and we left them for the reasons previously stated on no. 1
Inside, the woodwork was painted throughout, giving it more of a colonial revival look. The living room has the typical built-ins, window seats, with hinged tops for storage, and a glass-doored, enclosed bookcase. Both living and dining have picture rail and plate rail on all four walls. The ceilings are crossed with turned wood trim. The floors in these two rooms are oak , the rest pine , except for the upstairs master bedroom, where we installed hardwood. All the rest were pine. The fireplace in this house is in the dining room and has been reworked by a subsequent owner who did not like the Craftsman green tile.
The first floor, back room I made into a playroom, covering the walls, which had been painted in a hunter green over wallpaper, with (horrors) plywood. It was the only solution available at the time and I left the woodwork, if another owner wated to restore it. I had a large, sliding door closet on one side of the back wall and and a cabinet and drawers built on the other side, with a window seat and tiny sliding door storage underneath for toys. The window seat looked out on the back patio that we had installed, and the childrens play area.
There are other features of the Bungalow period. The stairwell with one entry and a landing halfway up, is typical in the rear of the house, not showcasing in the front. Originally the small center hall it runs off of, had doors at all openings, but the living room and kitchen ones had long since been relegated to the basement I left them there The basement stairs lead down to a small half-basement which was common in this area of poor drainage. This house also has an outside entrance under the back porch.
The kitchen was completely redone. It had long since lost its’ original character. It was done in butternut cabinets and my husband painstakingly removed the plaster from the chimney wall, which jutted out in to the room, making it a focal point rather than an inconvenience.
Storage being a problem in many of these houses. (This one, no exception) we had a drop stairwell installed to the attic and insulation and plywood flooring added as well as a whole house fan , since, at that time, we did not have air.
The second floor bedrooms had walk-in closets that were completely non-functional. One of the neat things about a bungalow is the nooks and crannies they carry, under their eaves. They invite you to tear into them but do so with trepidation You don’t know what you will find. What we found was, the floor joist stopped a few feet from the finished space and the space dropped down to roof rafters which our carpenter had to reinforce in order for them to carry weight. We finished that area with tongue and groove cedar, installing custom hanging rods and shelving, turning the entire area into a dressing room ay a time when that was not a usual feature in any but the most expensive houses.

5 Hill Top Court

Was a typical bungalow with a low , shed roof dormer, typical of the low slung style. It has, in recent years,. been replaced by the large bowfront dormer you see.
The first floor has only four rooms. In 1959, it was owned by William Carroll and his wife, who were owners of the only theatre supply business in town, Falls City. They outfitted the movie houses downtown as well as Columbia Auditorium and Many others. It passed to a grandson and then to the owner who turned a small two window clerestory-type dormer into this large bay-type addition.

7 Hill Top Court

Was owned by Harold and Eileen Gray in 1959. They had lived there a number of years with various members of their family, including their daughter,. Gayle. This house had a living room that extends across the entire front of the house. The fireplace, an essential part of the Arts & Crafts style, is at one end of the room and the typical three or four steps leading to the enclosed center stairway, is on the other, opposite the front door. The dining room is directly off the living and adjacent to a small kitchen which has the other side of the center stairway steps leading up to a landing.. This arrangement was intrinsic to the style, making the stairway utilitarian rather than a grand focal point. It had to do with modesty and being family oriented. It was also very practical, as it did not need great upkeep. This indeed, was part of the philosophy. At the top of the stairs are two bedrooms on either side and a full bath.

2 Hill Top Court

Iis basically the same house as # 3 with the notable fact that the heavy beams that framed the front porch, have been cut off, thus robbing this house of its identity. In 1959, this house was owned by Mr and Mrs Jack Stratton. They apparently raised two chidren and housed other family members here.

4 Hill top Court

Built in 1911 by P.C. Dix, state secretary for the YMCA, owned by Frank and Elsie Beeler. He was principal of Watson Lane Elementary ( now Lowe’s) and she was a music teacher. They raised five children in this tiny house.
Classified as Western Stick style, this house did have the original dark woodwork throughout and like # 3, it has the plate rail, picture rail and ornamental turned wood, cross hatching on the ceiling in the living and dining rooms. There are two bedrooms on the first floor and a finished attic which was used as bedroom space, which is also part of the bungaalow movement. The kitchen was tiny( I believe it has been done over) but did contain the drop down ironing board, a hallmark of the bungalow, in its own little cabinet. The rear addition was done in the 60’s.

6 Hill Top Court

Built for W. C. Paige, field secretary for the State YMCA. Some time late it was bought by the Horines ( fondly known as big Horine and little Horine ) who raised two daughters and a son here. He was vice president of the Mengel on Colorado Ave. It was left to one daughter, Ruth Horine Cornwall who lived there with her daughter, Mary Jane, until poor health caused her to give it up. An addition to the rear was put in for family members.

8 Hill Top Court

is a raised bungalow, more so than the others. In 1959 it was owned by Roy Skarls and his wife. they raised two children here. Their daughter became a nurse and their son, an architect,
The first floor has a living room with a room opening on to it from the left of the front door, that could have been designated aa study but was probably used as a bedroom. I have been told thaat at the time these house wer built, the tax assessment was based on the number of bedrooms. At one time, value used to be determined by the number of rooms in a house and was considered a valid way of arriving at total value so this may be true.The formal dining room is directly behind the living room. The kitchen is off a hall that parallels the center , enclosed stairway. At the top of the stairs are a bedroom on either side of the stairway hall and the full bath straigh ahead.

These courts were laid out with a designated right-of -way down the middle but it was never built. the court dwellers decided they liked the privacy of the court rather than have a street in front of their houses. Hill Top had a Court association ( homeowners association) they paid annual dues for maintenance and extra for repairs or unusual work. this was dissolved by the Skarls in 1977. the alleys were connected but the residents had them closed where the right-a-way came through. They did not like the garbage truck coming across the entrance of the courts.



One Response

  1. Thanks…so interesting for those of us that are relatively new to the area!

    Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2014 19:18:21 +0000 To:

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