My March 24 photo essay on Queen Anne towers, turrets and finials ("When Queen Anne Was King") included pictures of buildings in a small stretch of Westervelt Avenue between St. Marks Place and its merge into Hamilton Avenue in St. George.
The rooflines pictured in that essay were knockoffs of earlier, larger and more elegant buildings elsewhere in the neighborhood. The partial roofline shown left is taken from one of these. It represents the sort of model journeyman builders were inspired by and whose massing and detailing they copied, albeit in considerably scaled down form, for more modest buildings.
The extraordinary finial-capped inverted cone (is it a dunce's cap? a witch's hat?) on this St. George house is probably the most striking example of Queen Anne eccentricity in the neighborhood. The near circle of tower room windows is partly covered by the overhang in almost a protective gesture--a detail I've seen nowhere else in the neighborhood.
Look at the care lavished upon the finial--the dentilated decoration near the finial base, echoing the much larger circular rim of the tower roof itself. A person could pass it on the street, year after year and never look up and never notice it, but to its designer it was a crowning detail; it had to be done right.
And look again: the use of dentils is repeated in the terra cotta chimney just behind. Possibly nothing more than a felicitous accident, but no less beautiful for that.
A DYNAMIC, EXCITING SPACE FOR THE RIGHT USER
The building is situated across Central Avenue from the site of the new Richmond County Courthouse--a guaranteed revenue generator for any retail or restaurant business that had the vision and the dollars required to locate here. A smart user would capitalize on the building's eccentricity, providing relief from the typical civic center-type structure now about to rise across the street.
Offices would be a predictable and shortsighted use of such a dynamic space; so would restricting it to uses catering mostly or exclusively to lawyers and business types. That sort of strictly-suits concept would have limited appeal to the young, hip community developing nearby. The ideal would be to generate as broad an appeal as possible.
Like so much commercial real estate in St. George, this remarkable but severely deteriorated structure is for sale or lease, as it has been for years, with a parking lot adjacent.