Vernacular architecture of southern Indiana, part 1
This is the first in my series on the architecture of my region of Indiana. For additional entries, see https://housesandbooks.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/vernacular-architecture-of-southern-indiana-part-2/, https://housesandbooks.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/architectural-styles-of-southern-indiana-second-empire/ and https://housesandbooks.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/architecture-of-southern-indiana-the-gable-ell/ Click on any photo below to enlarge.
Vernacular architecture refers to simple house styles of the past that were built in countless numbers throughout the 1800s by ordinary carpenters who did not possess any special knowledge of architecture. If you had a tight lot, they’d build you a shotgun house. If you had the money, you could have a two-story. Living on your own, with humble means? a cottage was the answer. These are some of the styles that you will see again and again in southern Indiana.
The single pen had one room (or pen) with a sleeping loft above. The word “pen” apparently goes back hundreds of years to the times when people and animals shared the same shelter.
The double pen is a single pen that has had its floor plan flipped and doubled. Professor Emeritus Henry Glassie at Indiana University has written a book on vernacular architecture and states that this particular house form derives from the farm houses in England’s West Country. The versions there, of course, are built of stone and have thatched roofs. Otherwise their floor plans are identical.
This version looks more like a single pen duplicated side by side, without being flipped: note the two central windows. This variant is unusual in this area.
This appears to be a two-story double pen, the only one I’ve seen; but the owners had a different term for it which I cannot recall. It’s definitely NOT an I-house. The upstairs rooms have sloping ceilings, so it’s really one-and-a-half floors instead of two.
Shotgun architecture originated in the American South. This two-story version looks nothing at all like the brick shotguns in my home city, Louisville, which were one-story and decorated with ornate Queen Anne front facades; yet it’s technically a shotgun because all three rooms on the ground floor are placed in a straight row from front to back. Interior doors are aligned, so one could theoretically fire a gun straight through the house without striking anything.
The I-house is a common farmhouse style throughout Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, hence the I-name. The floor plan is a straight rectangle like a block initial letter I, often with blank end walls. It is completely symmetrical in form and often embellished with Greek Revival or ornate Queen Anne touches.