1915 – Peru, IN – $329,900

For Sale
Listing details may have changed since 5/7/21. Check the links below for the most recent listing information.
Added to OHD on 5/7/21   -   Last OHD Update: 5/7/21   -   170 Comments

154 W Main St, Peru, IN 46970

Maps: Street | Aerial

  • $329,900
  • 5 Bed
  • 4.5 Bath
  • 5608 Sq Ft
  • 0.64 Ac.
A chance of a life time!!! This unique and charming home offers 5 bdrms 4.5 baths butlers pantry, Formal dining room, Balcony, main floor ensuite with screened in patio, Perfect for entertaining.
Contact Information
Donna Strickland, Carriger Oldfather Realty
(765) 473-3076
Links, Photos & Additional Info
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170 Comments on 1915 – Peru, IN – $329,900

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  1. Belladog1Belladog1 says: 209 comments
    OHD Supporter

    WOW!!! This place looks like a grand movie house! I’m ready for my closeup Mr.DeMille. The lighting is out standing on the first floor. It would be nice to find out who built this and who designed it. With the right fabrics and furniture this place could be truly fantastic! I wish we could have seen what the kitchen looked like before the rehab. Lots a bang for the buck!

    +11
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      Well said Belladog! This bold house was constructed in an exciting time when American Architecture was sorting-out modern architecture after the Prairie Style/Arts & Crafts Movement had run its course and was being influenced by emerging European styles (mostly from Austria). I suspect the interior walls were painted in bright pastels with geometric stenciling in the Secessionist style (geometric Art Nouveau). At least I fantasize that it could be that way! How about a mosaic or Klimt mural? No doubt, the original family were progressive in their tastes and philosophy.

      Besides doses of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, you can also see some California Irving Gill in there. There are nods to all sorts of influential architecture of the day, and this house is still a progressive conversation piece:
      Otto Wagner:
      https://buffaloah.com/a/virtual/aus/vienna/wagner/wag.html

      https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/vienna-secession

      +12
      • GretaLynGretaLyn says: 626 comments
        OHD Supporter

        http://irvingjgill.org/
        A book published last year…hopefully the celebratory events will be rescheduled!

        +3
      • MichaelMichael says: 3371 comments
        1979 That 70's show
        Otis Orchards, WA

        I think you are on to something about the interior colors. The interior has so much detail and texture and yet it’s all bleached white. How great would it be to see some vintage pics of the inside and see how this was decorated. I bet it made quite an impression!

        +5
      • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1782 Quaker Georgian
        Worton, MD

        If I had to name an architect for this house, I’d suggest Prairie Style architect George Maher considering all the half-circle arches, boxed-in staircase, and rational floor plan. He did some work in Indiana, and his work often seems influenced by Austrian Secessionist design.

        +3
        • MaggieMayMaggieMay says: 114 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1945 Craftsman
          Athens, TN

          Wow!!! Absolutely delicious!! I’ll take it!!!
          It is like one of the great Hollywood homes of the stars.”Christina!! No wire coat hangers!!!”
          I love the big wooden bed also.
          Looks very well taken care of. In photo #30, is that a mirror or a walk thru to other side of the room?
          Absolutely beautiful.

          +1
          • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
            OHD Supporter

            1782 Quaker Georgian
            Worton, MD

            Maggie May, you’re a nut. And, I love it! It took me a while to catch the Metro-Goldwyn-MAYER (MGM) joke. Well done! Now get to costuming for your close-up scene!

            +2
            • MaggieMayMaggieMay says: 114 comments
              OHD Supporter

              1945 Craftsman
              Athens, TN

              My late mother and I loved the old movies. Our favorite was “Mildred Pierce”. She called me Mildred and I called her Veda. I would tell her “With this money I can get away from you. From you and your chickens and your pies and your kitchens and everything that smells of grease. I can get away from this shack with its cheap furniture, and this town and its dollar days, and its women that wear uniforms and its men that wear overalls. You think just because you’ve made a little money you can get a new hairdo and some expensive clothes and turn yourself into a lady. But you can’t, because you’ll never be anything but a common frump!” And we’de laugh and laugh.
              I miss my mom. She LOVED old houses, old movies, and classic rock.

              +4
              • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
                OHD Supporter

                1782 Quaker Georgian
                Worton, MD

                You got me laughing and missing your mom too, with that recitation. I actually saw a “just-restored” screening of “Mildred Pierce” at the Library of Congress nearly twenty years ago, after a trainwreck day at work. It was so camp and hilarious, and I will always be grateful for that happy night spent with Joan Crawford.

                +2
              • TGrantTGrant says: 1101 comments
                OHD Supporter

                New Orleans, LA

                I think I would’ve gotten along with your mother quite well.

                +2
              • darladarla says: 157 comments
                Commerce City, CO

                that is FABULOUS! How fun!
                (my fave JC movie is The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.)
                Sounds like a great lady!

                0
          • TGrantTGrant says: 1101 comments
            OHD Supporter

            New Orleans, LA

            If I had to guess, I’d say it was a cut through to the next room done relatively recently. You can see a modern 2×4 on the floor at the base of the arch. Also the skirting boards don’t continue onto the interior of the arch.

            +2
        • Now I need to get my daughter to research when her great-great grandfather was in the area. I know he was in Oak Park for a time, then designed a development somewhere in TX before moving to Mercer Island —they at one time owned the water rights there. He was Bavarian, I think. If I had a better memory I could tell you his name.

          +1
  2. What an incredibly wonderful house! 5 blocks or so from the riverfront, empty lots on either side of its corner lot make for a very large green space all around it. The build date is listed as 1915, but it hardly looks like a typical house from that time. I love it. It has a lot of its original charm, too, such as it is. Very large!

    +5
  3. JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Shown in the state SHAARD file as the Shirk-Cole House, it was designed and built for banker Joseph Henry Shirk (1881-1953). Shirk was born locally and after attending Harvard, took over the Peru Trust Company founded by his grandfather. Large earlier family mansions share the block.

    The file refers to the style as Mission/Spanish Colonial, though as SS observed, there’s more going on there.

    +11
    • PhillipPhillip says: 308 comments
      1910 Tudor/craftsman mix

      I felt as I looked at the exterior certainly prairie, but the minute I came thru the front door it felt very mission. A wonderful blend of two of my favorite styles. I guess being on a busy street is the downside. Still a wonderful house.

      +2
  4. Not what I expected from the exterior, but definitely high-style at the time. There is stuff like this in the bay area and Austria as snarlingsquirrel mentioned.

    +4
  5. NonaKNonaK says: 280 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Austin, TX

    Brought to mind this house in San Antonio, TX
    https://www.oldhousedreams.com/2020/09/29/1937-san-antonio-tx/

    +4
  6. TGrantTGrant says: 1101 comments
    OHD Supporter

    New Orleans, LA

    I would’ve loved to see how the original kitchen looked. Much like the late John Foreman of Big Old Houses, I’ve always been more interested in the service areas. Must’ve been “below stairs” in a previous life!🤣

    +12
  7. PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

    When I saw that first shot with the helmet-like curve my thought was, what the hell is this?? And then the rear shot with what looked like some mish-mash of Spanish Revival and Mission that didn’t relate to the front…and spikes coming out of the roof!

    But then, like others here, I went inside and said, wait a minute, this is so deeply architectural, powerful, and consistent in its details that I must be missing the big picture on the outside. That’s when I went to the aerial view and realized there is stunning modernistic symmetry here, and that those protrusions from the top of the atrium are something Bart Prince is still doing to this day and they still seem wildly comtemporary. The massing and lines of the house, if it’s truly 1915, are incredibly ahead of their time. I think snarlingsquirrel’s summary of the architectural influences is very insightful.

    I look forward to someone’s naming the architect, etc. This is a huge amount of house and architecture, especially for the money, and it should be listed, preserved, and protected.

    +6
    • JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
      OHD Supporter

      “if it’s truly 1915” – Actually, the house is earlier, 1911 in the SHAARD info, and shown on the 1912 Sanborn:

      https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4094pm.g4094pm_g024641912/?sp=14&r=0.258,0.506,0.924,0.593,0

      The Harvard-educated owner had wide connections, and the unattributed architect was obviously up to speed with modern trends. I’m very curious also!

      +6
      • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1782 Quaker Georgian
        Worton, MD

        That is intriguing data JimH, and it seems to be frame construction if I’m reading the color-coding correctly. I’d love to see the city block of backyard gardens that went with the house.That would also place this house before the watershed flood year of 1913.

        +3
      • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

        When I said in my comment further down ”if it can be documented,” of course I was thinking of you, Jim, but mentioning your name would have been a little too much like placing an order 🙂 But I knew you’d come through! I imagine your own old house looking exactly like the Library of Congress, only bigger. Okay, maybe not, but your internauting skills put mine to shame and we all appreciate your efforts.

        Well this is pretty incontrovertible, then–no mistaking the plan of that house on the Sanborn map. It seems that Shirk, whose name is attached to a lot of the local houses, was the developer/subdivider. The Coles seem to have been around Peru for awhile in prominent positions. A Harvard connection would make sense because this house was very seriously avant-garde and sophisticated in its architecture inside and out. And it’s fairly monumental. Especially at such a stunningly early date I’m surprised it isn’t extremely well-known. The roof overhangs on the ends are very Prairie/FLW, the arches very Sullivan. The architect who did this had to be quite familiar with them and their then very recent work. The great hall on the inside of this thing is not something that is conjured by a local designer-builder, but rather by an architect with experience not only in domestic architecture but also in working with larger, more dramatic spaces.

        +3
        • JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
          OHD Supporter

          Thanks for the kind words. In fact, my home inside does resemble that part of the Library of Congress where they store the shipping cartons, broken books and coffee cups.

          The Cole owner of the house was attorney Albert Harvey Cole (1886-1964), a cousin of both Cole Porter and Joseph H. Shirk. The place has been sold 10 times since 1987.

          +4
          • RanunculusRanunculus says: 269 comments
            OHD Supporter

            Tucson, AZ

            10 times?! That’s an average of every 3.5 years! Amazing it’s still in this good of shape. But the elephant in the room is WHY. Sort of like the seemingly terrific dog that keeps getting turned back to the shelter. Wrong types of owners? 🤔

            +3
            • That *is* a very good question. It leaves me wondering about the crime rate in Peru (+50% over the national average) – but then there are the other two magnificent homes adjacent and they don’t seem to have sold recently and – to be fair – the current owners look to have been in the home since 2012.

              I’m really on the fence on this one. It seems a better option than the bank building with silent local realtors.

              +1
              • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 12590 comments
                Admin

                1901 Folk Victorian
                Chestatee, GA

                This is why crime stats are misleading, various websites give different answers. It’s always best to talk to someone that actually lives in this area, not someone living two towns over or lived there 10 years ago but someone that is sitting in a house within walking distance to the home. For instance, one stat says that the crime is 40% higher but guess what? The fine print up at the top of that site states there are no stats for Peru and instead they are giving you stats for Kokomo. U.S. Census stats show a lower crime rate than most towns I post but they only go back to 2018 (I’ve not researched further to find recent stats.)

                +6
            • I have found the entire sale history of the house, as according to Miami County. 9 sales, the 10th is actually just an error correction where the 1988 purchase by “*, Alan & Lugene” was incorrectly entered as *, Alan 7 Lugene”, hence the double entry.

              1900-01-01 – C*, Louise F. (Obviously a placeholder date)
              1987-12-01 – C*, Jack K.
              1988-07-26 – C*, Alan & Lugene
              1988-10-17 – Wabash Valley Bank & Trust Company
              1989-10-02 – From: G*, Christopher
              1995-06-25 – From: S*, Barry
              1996-03-08 – P*, J Kip & Patrica
              1998-07-15 – C*, Donald W & Socorro A
              2006-04-18 – M*, Sheryll
              2012-02-22 – Current Owners

              (admin edit: sorry, no owner full names)

              +1
              • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 12590 comments
                Admin

                1901 Folk Victorian
                Chestatee, GA

                I know it’s fairly easy to find but I ask not to give full owner (as in this recent) names on OHD. I’ve edited their last name out.

                +2
                • Oh, no problem. Despite it being public record, that is the very reason that I didn’t list the current owner’s name. So, noted. 🙂

                  Oh, you’ll want to edit the comment itself, above the list where I discuss the correction in name also.

                  +1
              • RanunculusRanunculus says: 269 comments
                OHD Supporter

                Tucson, AZ

                Awesome find! This tells a story of various chapters, not a bouncing hot potato. 87 years in the possession of one owner! Then some difficulties that quickly landed it with a bank. Then another 6 years (of love & stability, one hopes) before a few folks maybe bit off more than they could chew. Then a couple more decent runs (8, 6, and 9 years). We will never know its condition after & during its “foster episodes”, but clearly the past 3 owners have cared for it to result in its current state. Hats off to all who loved this structure. I like to think it’s an ongoing history of hope.

                +2
      • old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
        OHD Supporter

        This house may have been part of larger grounds. If you go to google maps and drive around the neighborhood there are a series of old limestone fence posts with wrought iron fencing that begins at Main and Hood and goes all the way to Fremont. You can see an old former gate entrance that now stands unused in front of a brick dutch colonial built far later.

        +2
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      Thank you Purista. My insights of Austrian modernism may be as much wishful thinking as based on the evidence of a few photos. It’s possibly just an attempt at creating the Spanish colonial architecture of Peru in South America, but I doubt it. I agree with your read of the rational plan as seen from the air. The corner entry sequence is certainly controlled. It’s also a hallmark of European modernism to have the function of rooms determine the window pattern on the front facade (often with a quirky, industrial outcome). With closer inspection, that relief balustrade on the mezzanine looks less like Sullivan in Chicago and more like the “whiplash” ornament found in the Vienna Secession. A fusion? It all intentionally goes against the old school way of understanding architecture, and it must have ruffled the feathers of the neighboring relatives in their conservative Beaux Arts mansions:
      https://maps.roadtrippers.com/us/peru-in/accommodation/rosewood-mansion-inn

      You mentioned Bart Prince’s roof “spikes” in Albuquerque, and I definitely see the comparison. His are references to everything from vigas of Pueblo architecture in NM, to insect antennae, to the horizon. I think this house is using the “spikes” as a sort of Mission Revival pergola detail, but it translates as something more novel in the radial fan, eh? The house for Bart Prince’s father has them:
      https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/224-Spring-Creek-Ln-NE_Albuquerque_NM_87122_M17803-19494#photo13

      Like many of us, I’m imagining what I’d do with this ever-unfolding house. It’s an encyclopedia of twentieth-century design movements, and so much of it is intact. Particularly considering much of Peru was washed-away in a disastrous flood in 1913, I suspect the structure is solid concrete or some such masonry technology (maybe hollow tile?). Do you think the radiators were removed, or did it have innovative heating technology there too for 1915? This goes back to our curiosity about the original kitchen.

      +3
      • JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
        OHD Supporter

        It’s a gas/hot air system now but maybe that’s not original. Perhaps the basement is full of Tesla coils and turbines that powered advanced systems well ahead of their time.

        https://www.oldhousedreams.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/22-154wmainst.jpg

        +5
      • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

        I would be very curious to know if Bart has ever seen this house either in the flesh or in photos. If not that, then certainly he has seen the Statue of Liberty 🙂 It’s not just the spikes that his house and this one share, it’s the very interesting, organic perspective from above. The two-dimensional drawings of Bart’s houses are just as interesting and daring as the houses themselves. Bart’s mentor was Bruce Goff whose mentor was FLW. I have spent many hours in the Spring Creek house you cite and contemplated restoring it a few years back, but didn’t.

        To me, a good part of the significance of this house is the build date, that is, IF the 1915 date quoted is really true, and it is so early given the style I wouldn’t accept it until there is documentary evidence.

        +1
        • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1782 Quaker Georgian
          Worton, MD

          I envy you for spending many hours in the Spring Creek house for Bart Prince’s father, and I had the same fantasy of preserving it when it was languishing on the market. They both stand proudly on their own terms, and I admire that in a world of mashed-potato-sandwich architecture. There are not many Goff/Prince designs one can experience fully, except the life-changing Japanese Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The exhibition is simply Japanese screens, yet you wander through an interior forest of dappled natural light, hovering pathways, and black pools. The creature of a building takes inspiration from the adjacent LaBrea tar pits!

          +2
          • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

            I think quite a few of Bart’s houses have crawled out of the Tar Pits! They look very reptilian and/or insectivorous in drawn form, and often in person, too. Borderline genius, if you ask me.

            How cool that you were following the Spring Creek house. The issue with this particular effort was that it clearly was designed to extract the most architecture out of a not-unlimited budget, shall we say. So ”custom” windows were made by cutting a slab of glass to size, framing it between 2x6s, and holding it in place with tacked-on 1×3/4 strips of painted pine…which, over the course of a few decades in 5 percent humidity and the New Mexico sun, curled up like Betty Boop’s locks. Multiply that by whole-house and you got yourself one helluva project. As well as some of the best architecture and views in all of Albuquerque.

            This Peru house has done a bit better on the time test, still looking strong at 100-plus.

            +2
  8. RosewaterRosewater says: 7551 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1875 Italianate cottage
    Noblesville, IN

    Peru, Indiana eh? I’ll bet a nickel the locals call it the spaceship. 😉

    +4
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      Agreed, I doubt it’s much adored by the locals. The whirling tile curve actually reminds me of Julianne Moore’s babysitter’s house in the film, “The Hours” (I can’t find an image, but it’s a Florida cross between Spanish & streamline moderne). Going back to the “Peru” style, this sort of corner house is somewhat common with Spanish-colonial architecture in Latin America. As with the house in San Antonia above, the traditional courtyard is turned into a stunning hall:
      https://www.alamy.com/arched-door-of-corner-spanish-style-red-tile-roof-building-in-central-american-town-image237392905.html

      I am hoping you’ll go tour it for us and report back Rosewater. Who doesn’t love an adventure?!

      +4
    • DianeEGDianeEG says: 587 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1896 Farmhouse W/Swedish roots
      Rural, IL

      Where I’m from in Indiana, we pronounced it “Pee Rue”. Here’s a thought: Peru was known for wintering circuses. They have a large circus museum and they used to have a circus school. During its hay day, it was all quite wonderful and exotic. Could there be a circus connection with this house?

      +2
      • nikmillsnikmills says: 37 comments

        If I moved in and held the kind of dinner parties I’d like to (granted I’d have to unearth a social life first) it would definitely rekindle any circus connection, wonderful and exotic, that it ever had.
        I’m writing up a menu as we speak.

        +1
      • RosewaterRosewater says: 7551 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1875 Italianate cottage
        Noblesville, IN

        I’ll never say it correctly again, Diane. 😉

        +1
  9. Frankly, if the crime statistics for Peru, IN weren’t as poor as they are I’d be putting my house on the market tomorrow. The house is absolutely MAGNIFICENT, and that price? Wow! Just…Wow! Add to that an unfinished basement to play with too? This house really lives up the the “Dreams” part of Old House Dreams.

    0
    • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 12590 comments
      Admin

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      I’m looking at various crime maps for this neighborhood and am not finding statistics that show a high crime area. The whole as a town isn’t show high crime either.

      +3
      • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1782 Quaker Georgian
        Worton, MD

        The neighborhood reviews describe Peru as safe and sleepy. It’s the circus clowns that scare me however!

        +4
        • JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
          OHD Supporter

          Weird fun fact: Maria Rasputina, the daughter of mad Russian monk Rasputin, was mauled while performing with a circus bear at Peru in 1935. Doesn’t say exactly what she was performing though.

          +4
          • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
            OHD Supporter

            1782 Quaker Georgian
            Worton, MD

            I shiver at the thought of spending just one afternoon in your head JimH. Peru is sounding more “fun” all the time, at least intriguing.

            0
          • RosewaterRosewater says: 7551 comments
            OHD Supporter

            1875 Italianate cottage
            Noblesville, IN

            Hah! Crazy.

            There was another house in Peru on OHD ages and ages ago which had a circus connection. A big rambling, slightly decrepit thing as I recall. Wish it was still around.

            +1
      • I’m showing Peru as higher than 79% of US cities, is there a better place I should be looking for further information? I suppose I am a bit spoiled being in Naples, FL, where things are really quiet.

        0
        • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 12590 comments
          Admin

          1901 Folk Victorian
          Chestatee, GA

          What website are you getting that from? I haven’t found anything that supports that. It’s one of the problems, there really aren’t websites that are reliable about small town crime stats. They all rate things differently or don’t include all the reported crimes.

          +3
    • old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
      OHD Supporter

      https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/peru-miami-in/

      Not as bad as some. Other than work on the house, not sure what you would do there.

      +3
  10. GemmaGemma says: 113 comments
    2000 Farmhouse
    NC

    NCIS-Los Angeles 2.0 is what came to mind when I saw the interior. I also wonder if Poirot would appreciate the design. The living room with mezzanine is worthy of the big screen.

    +1
  11. JeanJean says: 129 comments
    1975 Traditional
    Athens, GA

    My first thought was Moorish Revivial. And yes, what would the kitchen be like?

    +2
  12. JohnJohn says: 58 comments
    1872 New England Farmhouse
    Shoreham, VT

    I would add a row of 20′ tall Cypress trees around the front corner of the lot spaced just far enough apart to add some mystique to the place.

    +2
  13. PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

    I’ve got to say it again. If this were dated 1938 we’d be noting the curved primary facade and porte cochere and calling it a somewhat strange and massive example of domestic eclectic Deco with odd window disposition. But at 1912 or earlier, given its presence on the Sanborn Map JimH found, the perspective–and importance–changes completely, to the point that this house should be in most major books on modern American architecture. FLW was building rectilinear Prarie Style houses at this time. His more organic, rounded shapes generally didn’t come until considerably later, with the Art Deco period and his hemicycle houses and cicrular archtecture, such as at the Guggenheim and the Gladys and David Wright House. So this house, 1912 or earlier, with its sweeping curve, is immensely forward-looking. Has it been ”hidden in plain sight?” Who was the architect and why hasn’t it been recognized to the degree it deserves to be?

    JimH reports it has sold 10 times since 1987. Why? Clearly nobody is profiteering at 59 bucks a square foot! Where else are you going to find 5,600 square feet of ground-breaking exterior and monumental art nouveau interior for that price…or any price?

    +2
  14. PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

    And I should add that if the turnover rate is as great as JimH reports, it’s somewhat of a miracle that this house is so well preserved and so intact and we can only hope that any buyer appreciates and respects that and carries on the tradition. This house is too important a cultural artifact to be altered significantly.

    +3
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      I’m glad to see you’re as dazzled by this circus-town spectacle as I am Purista. I’m still leaning toward it being one of George Maher’s period revival houses late in his post-prairie career (Spanish Colonial/Mission Revival). He even lived in Indiana as a kid and is known to design some work there. Although he was enormously influential during the Prairie Years, he’s sort of fallen through the cracks on us. Apparently there’s no book or project list yet published of his hundreds of commissions. Geek that I am, I actually emailed this informative website last night to inquire about this property. I’ll let you all know if I hear back:
      http://www.georgemaher.com/

      As for the revolving door of owners, it must be an expensive house to maintain before we even predict possible repairs or system updates (heating alone). It doesn’t have many of the trappings someone would want in a large luxury house today: an attached garage, privacy, kitchen-great room, showers, safe railing for children upstairs, etc. And, the mansions nextdoor form a hotel (and probably an event venue). If we find a named architect to attach to this house, that will be a big step toward continuing its good record for preservation. Please go tour it Rosewater!

      +3
      • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

        I think you nailed it, Snarling. If you google Maher and look at the photos of his work–well not ”you,” since you’ve already figured it out, but ”one”–you can practically assemble this house from his various other pieces of very forward-looking architecture starting in the 1890s. He was in the area, was influenced by Sullivan, did curved roofs, liked hips with big overhangs, was used to building on a public/monumental scale, incorporated Nouveau elements, has the same incredible light fixtures in many buildings, and…wait for it…in something called Rockledge from 1911, he has the Statue of Liberty/Bart Prince spikes protruding from sunroom or porte cochere or something. Why that’s virtually a signature. He ticks all the boxes, as they say.

        That Rockledge place is insane. Gives Greene&Greene&Stickley, not to mention FLW, a run for their money!

        Good eye and good work, Snarling.

        Maher, 5600 square feet, curvilinear architecture, 1911? Wake up, dreamers!!

        Yes, by all means, let us know if the Maher folks ”own” it. I wouldn’t stake my life on it, but maybe an arm and a leg.

        And he’s not just George Maher, he’s George Washington Maher!

        +5
        • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1782 Quaker Georgian
          Worton, MD

          Thanks Purista. I’m not as convinced as you to offer body parts, but GW Maher seems like a good start. Besides the correlations you listed, I’d add the rustic Arts & Crafts fireplace and the boxed-in staircase. I sure wish we could get a good look at the remaining stained glass windows in the great room. It could be my wishful thinking, but they could have Maher’s organic prairie wreaths. It’s quite possible the dining room and stair landing also had custom art glass. Please don’t lose sleep worrying about the missing glass or furniture tonight. I’ll need you to drive over there to see it in person tomorrow, and perhaps exercise squatters rights!

          +1
      • alfalf says: 25 comments
        OHD Supporter

        IL

        Snarlingsquirrel (and now Purista too), your suggestion of similarities to Maher’s work is persuasive. I saw this Maher website as well, and found many interesting parallels (including those “spikes” at Rockledge!). But I am only an enthusiast and no expert on the subject so I hesitate to even point any out as they may be fairly standard treatments from the time.
        I also happened upon this website, https://www.prairieschooltraveler.com/home.html, and have enjoyed looking at some of the links there as well, though it is more broadly Prairie School and not solely Maher.

        +1
        • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1782 Quaker Georgian
          Worton, MD

          Alf, https://www.prairieschooltraveler.com/home.html is a marvelous rabbit hole, and your astute observations have complicated the attribution. Thanks to you, Purista may have to lose an arm. I clicked on “Indiana” and the first houses are attributed to Enock Hill Turnock with a similar exterior feel (no spikes):
          https://www.prairieschooltraveler.com/html/in/elkhart/750nriverside.html
          Next is this:
          https://www.prairieschooltraveler.com/html/in/elkhart/760nriverside.html

          Unfortunately, he also seems to have fallen through the cracks of time, and I can’t find much of his work. I know nothing about Indiana architecture. He certainly has the right qualifications (attended Art Institute of Chicago & worked for William Le Baron Jenney for nine years). Turnock lived in Elkhart, Indiana and designed many of their public buildings. Even more:

          “Turnock was a member of the Tyrian and Royal Lodge of Masons, Christiana Country Club, Atherton Club, the old Century Club, and the American Institute of Architects. He also served as the first president of the Indiana Society of Architects. Enock Hill Turnock was honored with a fellowship in the American Institute of Architects. Turnock received the only honorary member of the state association for the Indiana Society of Architects.”
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enock_Hill_Turnock

          Who is this guy?? Thanks alf!

          +2
        • alfalf says: 25 comments
          OHD Supporter

          IL

          Okay, so, in the interest in allowing Purista to keep life and limb intact, I will venture forth in some comparisons of the Shirk-Cole House to the Maher oeuvre that I’ve seen on these websites. Please remember, I’m not an expert. (But I’m happy to receive constructive criticism from those who are. 🙂) And I should add that I still favor your original Maher attribution until other information, comparisons, and conclusions refine it.

          First, along with being whitewashed, I sense that the Shirk-Cole House has been neutered of virtually all of it’s interior detailing and perhaps some exterior too. This may be as simple as removal of wallpaper, textiles, and period appropriate furnishings, but I do wonder if there may have also been more art glass as well as other architectural decorative elements like your suggestion of iron filigree.

          The Maher website notes his propensity to use what he called his “Motif-Rhythm theory,” a choice of a motif—often a kind of plant—throughout the house. This could be found in window glass, wall relief, even bespoke furniture. For example, at Rockledge the motif was a tiger lily. (http://www.georgemaher.com/page6.html# See photo details #6 and #8 in the Rockledge image selection.) It would be marvelous to have better resolution photos of the stained glass windows and the relief frieze to see if a single plant has been chosen and used in both. I believe you mentioned Maher had a favorite wreath motif.

          Maher seems to make a spartan use of windows, often asymmetrically placed. The exquisite Erwin House in your link shows this. It is not unattractive, but it’s not the exuberance of windows found elsewhere. (But perhaps this is a false comparison and it’s because I’ve been happily viewing so many Queen Anne’s and MCM’s on this site lately, each with windows in abundance.) I’d say this lower density of window distribution occurs on the Shirk-Cole House too.

          As for actual architectural details, in the Shirk-Cole House the architect uses arches, some of which have such depth they become shallow—and sometimes irregular—barrel vaults (See #4 and #10 above). One appears in Maher’s work at Farson House (http://www.georgemaher.com/farson.html# See photo detail #5 in the Farson image selection). Related to this: if you look at the now demolished Patten House, note the depth of the entrance doorways with extra weight and thickness at the top (http://www.georgemaher.com/page3.html# See photo detail # 2 in the Patten image selection). Though rectilinear there and in stone, the same distribution of wall weight appears in the Shirk-Cole House and its stuccoed arched front doorway (again, photo #4 above), heavy at the top then cut back toward the ground.

          The Shirk-Cole House makes frequent use of square piers and similarly proportioned engaged pilasters. (See #22, #23, and #24 above) Two of these pilasters are the verticals of the brick fireplace at the Shirk-Cole House (See #23 above). With the exception of the slight curve of the firebox lintel, the elements of the fireplace are rectilinear. The fireplace is designed with distinct divisions into zones: a rectangular firebox; a mantle; a larger, even square open area above; and then a cornice to close the fireplace while the wall continues above, presumably to the wall cornice and ceiling. This is comparable to the fireplace in the Magerstadt house (http://www.georgemaher.com/page4.html# See photo detail #5 in the Magerstadt image selection). The division of the zones in each are similar, though more formally distinguished in the Magerstadt fireplace.

          Details make for long reading. Sorry to take so much space. Hope there is a kernel of usefulness in all this. But, it did seem to indicate to me interesting similarities between the Shirk-Cole House and Maher’s work. Hope that saved a limb.

          +2
          • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

            Well, Alf, I escrowed an arm just in case. Meantime, Snarlingsquirrel was kind enough to share with me a correspondence with someone from the Maher website who gives as thoughtful and thorough a run-down of details of the house as you have here…and comes to exactly the opposite conclusion, hedging with ”it’s not impossible (that it’s Maher).” Call it smart or sissyish, this person did not stake any part of his anatomy on his analysis. He said, for example, that Arts & Crafts effects tend to be much more elaborated in the interiors of Maher’s work and also noted that this house is not part of Maher’s known ”oeuvre.” Of course before the world ends, someone will discover a Picasso that is not part of his present catalogue raisonne.

            What I said to Snarling was that we have done our work regardless. My postings on this site tend to fall into two categories: funny/unpardonably irreverent, and cautionary in the name of recognizing and preserving a cultural artifact of very great importance that might not otherwise get the recognition and gentle treatment it deserves. And in that second thing, a number of us have done our work here, saying, effectively, ”Slow down, this is not just one more interesting $300,000 neighborhood house. It is something of true significance in the history and development of modern American architecture and should be recognized and preserved as such.” The number of comments here speaks for itself. We may not have found the architect beyond the shadow of doubt yet, but we have called attention to a very interesting and important piece of domestic architecture. Limbs may be lost but mission accomplished.

            +3
            • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

              And I would add…JimH correct me if I’m wrong…that when I google the address and NRHP, there is no indication it’s in (that could be British, make it ”on”) the Register. If it’s not in the Register either individually or as part of a historic district, I would call that ”falling through the cracks.” It absolutely should be in the Register, and that would help with recognition.

              0
              • JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
                OHD Supporter

                That’s right, it’s not on the NRHP. At the very least, the history of the house should be locally researched, and any extant old photos and info collected. The internet has done wonders to help connect dots for architectural historians, and let’s hope the full story here will emerge.

                +3
            • alfalf says: 25 comments
              OHD Supporter

              IL

              Thank you, Purista, for sharing a summary of the Maher expert’s assessment. I, of course, defer to their greater familiarity and knowledge. The admission that it is possibly a Maher (remote as it might be) seems to reflect Maher’s willingness to experiment. There is also the possibility of it being from the studio of a student of his or a fellow junior architect in his student or apprentice days where they learned many of the same fundamentals. Or, as I wrote before, it shares standard treatments of the time. All of this consideration about the Shirk-Cole House has led me to some happy time thinking and dreaming of what I would do were it mine. 🙂 Perhaps we’ll have to spend more time and go through the PrairieSchoolTraveler like Snarlingsquirrel has done to find more parallels like Turnock. That being said, it’s a pleasure to find myself in a community of enthusiasm, fun, irreverence, and serious assessment all in one. Thanks. And stay whole.

              +2
          • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
            OHD Supporter

            1782 Quaker Georgian
            Worton, MD

            Alf, I agree with everything you point out. You’ve been busy on this too! For some reason, I can’t message you to share the text.

            0
      • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1782 Quaker Georgian
        Worton, MD

        I received a generous analysis from http://www.georgemaher.com/ , and he believes it is NOT by GW Maher for a variety of unsimilarities to Maher’s known work: mostly in plan and lack of trademark exuberance of Arts & Crafts wood details. I’m also guilty of favoring found similarities while discounting the obvious differences: mostly that porte cochere entry sequence all the way to that grand hall with bedroom mezzanine (not found in Maher apparently). He also reminded me that Maher was hugely influential in his day, and he was often copied by other architects. That said, he also agrees this house offers something significant, particularly in its references to progressive European examples (that were well published). This one has been in the back of my mind all week:
        https://www.mackintosh-architecture.gla.ac.uk/catalogue/images/?filename=a399_007&xml=img

        +2
        • alfalf says: 25 comments
          OHD Supporter

          IL

          Yes, I wondered about imitation as well. I also wondered about Mackintosh parallels. But I have to laugh since I see them with Maher too, particularly the focus on plant motifs. For example, look at the tiles on the fireplace surround from the P. King House (page 3 of Maher website) and the furniture from Rockledge. Did Joseph and Martha Shirk honeymoon in Europe after their 1909 wedding? Perhaps they picked up some ideas for their home there such as Mackintosh and the Vienna Secessionists. But would that allow enough time for a 1911 build date? So many things to wonder about. Some good solid archival research as JimH suggests would give a better foundation than my stylistic speculations. But what fun it all is.

          I’ll check my profile settings to see if I can adjust something so that messages can be received. Thank you.

          +1
  15. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    That balcony would never pass inspection today. If I was tipsy or not I would fear depending on that rope rail. I believe a light fixture made by Willy Lau for a Maher house still holds the record price paid for lighting.

    +3
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      A Willy Lau connection would certainly “up the ante” for this house old codger. We’ve all experienced knee-high railings in old theater mezzanines, yet I can’t help but wonder if an original detail is missing here, like iron filigree. That plaster ornament is so massive, and it just gives way to a velvet rope? I admit I don’t like it when when party guests snoop through the bedrooms, and this could provide an efficient solution in the end.

      +4
  16. PhillipPhillip says: 308 comments
    1910 Tudor/craftsman mix

    There was a house in vicksburg that was on this site that was attributed to GW Maher. It was built by Fannie Vick, last of the vick family who vicksburg is named after. She was extremely wealthy and had a mission styled mansion built, just full of leaded glass windows by Louis Millet. I viewed the house and was amazed at the quality of design and construction. That house was built in 1911 also, so it certainly puts Maher in the mission frame of mind at that time. Issues for anyone buying this will be that the tile roof has been there 110 years and lifting it and putting down new membrane and furring strips and then relaying it is going to have to be done at some point. Typically lose about 20% of the tile to breakage. Is the sewer line redone in PVC? Have to think it originally had steam heat and if so is there any asbestos left to deal with? The rest ought to be fairly straightforward and like the other purists I am leaving the house as original as possible were it mine. Great find here Kelly!!

    +1
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      Thanks Philip. You have an excellent memory. This:
      https://www.oldhousedreams.com/2016/08/23/1910-mission-revival-vicksburg-ms/

      +2
      • PhillipPhillip says: 308 comments
        1910 Tudor/craftsman mix

        it is hard to forget that house. I have never seen leaded glass windows of that quality, and so many of them. There was an area at the top of the stairs on the 2nd floor that involved a rather large space that was not supported from underneath, instead the architect had devised a screw like mechanism above that area in the attic that gave support from above. I had never seen anything like it. The quality of materials and the build quality was incredible. As to your reference to the secessionist movement boy is that dead on and absolutely the proper treatment for this living room detail.I used a bit of the gold to which you refer on my own house and it is one of my favorite things that i did. A base layer of gold, followed by ralph lauren metallic ballroom gold and then a layer of martha stewart glaze to dull it down. I have all this chunky mission appropriate furniture including 2 sets of mission throne chairs from an elks lodge. Would be so fun decorating that place. I share your love of this one, it pushes all my buttons too. As belladog said the look is very grand movie house. The set of sconces in the living room are to die for. I have never seen another set like that, and have to imagine they were mostly sold into theaters.

        +2
  17. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Assuming this house was built for Joseph Henry Shirk. JH Shirk married Martha Royse Nov 16, 1909 in Lafayette. Wedding articles stated they would be living in Peru after an “extended wedding trip.” JH Shirk’s residence was used to host the funeral of his brother, EW Shirk, Nov 9, 1919 at 3PM. Shirk’s home was also looted once while Mrs JH Shirk and Mrs EW Shirk were assisting victims during the 1913 Wabash River flood that left 24 dead and flooded about 100 homes north of the Wabash River and 150 homes south of the river. Wonder how accurate the 1915 build date is?

    +2
  18. Super interesting. Love that light fixture with the starts!

    +2
  19. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Here’s more on the Shirks. But this account says it’s a 3 story tile roof mansion on one acre. That sounds like the place immediately behind this house. Maybe the Shirks owned both places or the dateline is different? Would like to have seen this house with the original windows. Too bad most have been replaced. And the tile roof is probably doomed. Cost to restore could easily top $100K so there’s another feature likely to disappear.
    https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Best_Man_I_Can_Be/81P_CAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Shirk+residence+Peru&pg=PA3&printsec=frontcover

    +1
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      We know nothing about the tile roof. It looks marvelous, and it’s possibly already a thoughtful replacement considering it’s been 110 years. [fingers crossed]
      Yes, I think you’re looking at the grandfather’s house. As JimH pointed out, all three mansions on the block are the same family going back to the 1870’s.

      +2
      • I’ve put in some questions to the realtor, including the age of the roof. In the meantime, I’ve also gotten photos of the unfinished basement (which has an exterior door that I’m trying to place). I’ve uploaded what new photos I’ve gotten.

        +2
        • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1782 Quaker Georgian
          Worton, MD

          You’re amazing Ceronomus. I’m delighted to see so much recent work to the mechanicals. I’m also surprised by that exterior basement door. Please keep us posted!

          +1
          • The realtor thinks that the big black pipes are the water lines coming in from underneath Main Street. She mentioned that the street hasn’t been dug up in at least 30 years and that the lines are likely original. She also mentioned that the rest of the waterlines in the house are updated to modern. Now, if I can only find out about the state of the roof. 😉

            I’ll admit, someone’s posted estimate of what it would cost to replace a roof like that put chills down my spine.

            I’ll admit, I’m looking at this one a bit seriously. I’m just not certain. With all the talk of crime rates and the like? 4 blocks away a couple were arrested for meth, and their kid testing positive for meth. Other local news is the city looking at tearing down some of the historic circus-related buildings.

            Not much else out of Peru at the moment.

            +2
            • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

              Please, Ceronomus, don’t let them meth with this house!

              Buy it! I’d be willing to come down to $12/sf on the Spanish tiles 🙂

              +1
            • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
              OHD Supporter

              1782 Quaker Georgian
              Worton, MD

              As a fellow Old House Dreamer, we’re all rooting for you Ceronomus.

              Sadly, drugs can be found in any community regardless of affluence or perception of safety. If that’s the worst arrest they’ve made recently, that’s a great sign. Can I have the light fixtures and stained glass if you buy it? J/K

              +3
              • I was correct in the placement of the basement door, which is odd, as it seems to be at ground level. The walkway from the garage leads to a small screened in porch (visible in the 3rd picture)off of the great room.

                As for the roof? The realtor has no idea of the age of the overall roof but the garage has a “new roof” (within the past decade) and the SW portion of the house over the dining room has a new “rubber roof”. Looks like someone saw the cost of replacing the tile roof…and that has me a bit concerned.

                Having had to replace a asphalt shingle roof after Hurricane Wilma, I know that the cost of a secondary water barrier can be almost the cost of the roof itself. Replacing the roof could cost $40k or more… That is pretty sobering.

                Of everything going on with the house, my only real concern is the roof…and it is a doozy of a concern. I’d hope that issues might be spotted on inspection but, I just dunno.

                Time to have a long discussion with the wife.

                +1
                • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

                  Ceronomus, are you sure it’s a true clay-tile roof? It has the look in the photos but there were roofs of metal…tin or terne or similar…made to look just like Spanish tile. Also, if it is true Spanish-style clay tile, have you seen something that makes you believe the entire roof needs replacing? Tiles can last a very long time and weak areas or broken tiles can be replaced. It’s a bit like a slate roof that way. Rarely does the whole thing need to be replaced, but if it does, it’s expensive because of the weight that has to be supported and the labor-intensive installation technique, not to mention the weight of the tile itself.

                  +1
                  • MichaelMichael says: 3371 comments
                    1979 That 70's show
                    Otis Orchards, WA

                    If it’s a clay tile roof and it’s original, it’s getting close to the end of it’s life. Take into account that this roof isn’t a simple square box but has that glorious curve and that will add to the cost. The only way to be sure is to have a professional look at it. It will be brain-damage expensive to replace it!

                    0
                • old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
                  OHD Supporter

                  I spoke to the gentleman who formerly owned the Irving house at Millikin Place in Decatur when the Grady house was on the market. He spent over $100K restoring the tile roof about 7 or 8 years ago. He also got some grant money to help due to NRHP status, but overall he still lost money on the house. Some or maybe a lot of that has to do with the general decline of IL and more specifically Decatur. I believe Decatur lead all cities in IL with out-migration.

                  +1
                  • Yeah, and any tiles that need to be replaced get more difficult as they’d need to be architectural salvage since, as my wife pointed out, federal legislation has actually changed on how modern tiles of that sort must interlock – and they apparently aren’t compatible.

                    The age of this roof is starting to make me REALLY uncomfortable. I cannot comfortably drop six figures on a new roof.

                    0
                    • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 12590 comments
                      Admin

                      1901 Folk Victorian
                      Chestatee, GA

                      You really should get a contractor out and give an estimate. There was a home on years ago that people freaked out about, saying it was going to cost 6 figures to fix/replace. It wasn’t that much.

                      0
                    • Good point, the roof may, or may not, be a money pit. We’re contacting the realtor about having both the roof and basement fully inspected.

                      0
        • Judging from street view, the basement door is on the Main St. side, just to the left of the arch-topped door there, which I think is the other basement stairs leading down from the kitchen.

          +1
  20. I haven’t discovered that much more about the Shirks. By far, the most famouse Shirk family in Peru was the bicyclists and aerialists that were with the Donnelly Circus, which wintered in Peru. The link above about the flood in March 1913 tells about that iteration of the circus, the 2nd largest in the country behind Ringling at the time.

    Joseph married Helen Royse in 1909. They had two daughters, Alice and Royse. In the 1940 census it shows only Joseph, Helen, and their hired help, Pauline Miller, in residence. Joseph Shirk ‘died unexpectedly’ in the house in October 1953. Helen passed in 1966.

    There are 3 houses on the Shirk’s property in Peru: an Italianate built in 1862 for his grandfather, renovated into a Classical Revival in 1921, at 50 N. Hood St.(the Shirk-Edwards house); Rosewood Mansion, almost 8200 SF, built 1872, at 54 N. Hood St., also built by Joseph’s grandfather; and this house. The combined lots look like around 2 acres to my eye. Per the book link from old codger, obviously it’s not 3 stories, and the fence is 4 feet high, but very interesting nonetheless!

    I did run across a legal brief filed in 1937 regarding Joseph’s mother, Ellen Walker Shirk, being principal in a lawsuit seeking to remove a trust manager from the Walker Building in Boston, alleging fiduciary malfeasance. I’m guessing that her family was into real estate and banking, too, as were the Shirks. Ellen Walker Shirk passed in 1940.

    +4
  21. A new old saw: The volume of comments about a house is directly proportional to its distinctiveness.

    +1
  22. snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1782 Quaker Georgian
    Worton, MD

    I apologize in advance for geeking-out on ya’ all. Yet another theory about the architect here. Trost & Trost. Gustavus Adolphus Trost even sounds like a name that would be doing Austrian-inspired work in Indiana. Never heard of them?:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trost_%26_Trost

    I’ve been going back to the Mission Revival Style architecture since the Maher lead dried up and I needed to procrastinate from work a little more. Who was doing Mission Revival in 1911? Going back to the 1880’s there were winter resorts in California done-up in the exotic & modern Mission Revival Style. Riverside, Pasadena, and Ojai are examples of resort towns that catered to Easterners who traveled West on the railroads to see sun, adobe, and orange groves. San Diego also had a worlds fair in 1915 that was also super influential and too late for this house (to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal). Architects Trost & Trost brought the style further east and sometimes mixed it with the Chicago School Prairie Style & added Sullivanesque detailing. I’m still working on their connection to Indiana, but I’ll conjecture until I find the proof. Perhaps a railroad hotel for the circus crowd?? Voila! Trost & Trost

    I found them in footnote 14, if you’re curious, of this seminal paper on the style in CA architecture. If anything, scroll through the photos to see how this Peru house belongs in the 1920’s:
    http://c100.org/books/articles/Gebhard_Spanish.Colonial.Arch.pdf

    +4
  23. Alright, so we are reaching out to the realtor about having both the roof and basement fully inspected. If that looks good, then we can move forward with having someone tour the house for us. In the meantime, fellow (and far more knowledgeable) enthusiasts, what other sorts of things should we be looking out for in a house this age?

    Also, there was mention of a possible missing feature from that balcony (velvet ropes do not a safety rail make. Where can we look to find what sort of feature would be appropriate to the style of the house? This sort of thing is pretty new to us.

    +2
    • GretaLynGretaLyn says: 626 comments
      OHD Supporter

      Really excited for you, and for the house! Hoping you’ll share the outcome (good or otherwise) of the inspections….

      +2
    • Someone mentioned ornate wrought iron for that, and I agree that from the lower level that would look really great. In one of the pictures of the stairs, you can see what the rail and balusters look like — duplicating those would look great from the balcony itself, looking over them, but from the lower level maybe not so much. Adding some wood to the look from lower might be nice though. One would kind of have to be standing in the room, I think.

      Good luck with the house, it’s wonderful!

      +1
      • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1782 Quaker Georgian
        Worton, MD

        I did. This “problem” has been solved in countless theaters, and it doesn’t have to distract anyone from buying this house. The mezzanine of most old theaters have a knee wall to maintain sight-lines. A simple metal (iron, brass) low fence and railing are just bolted onto the top of the knee wall for current concerns for the safety of children and also TGrant. Sight lines are maintained, and the show will go on! Problem solved without a lot of fuss. Next problem?

        Considering you asked, my own Old House Dreaming hatches more-elaborate solutions, but our goal is just to get a preservation-minded steward into the house first. I imagine a decorative iron “fence” up to the ceiling that’s somewhat Spanish style and has an ordered geometry of swirls. These come to mind:
        Louis Sullivan:
        https://collections.carli.illinois.edu/digital/collection/sie_arch/id/173/
        More Sullivan:
        https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O35030/elevator-grilles-sullivan-louis-henry/

        Not Wright, but in a “Pre-Colombian Style” Wright House (Maybe something lighter and rounder than this):
        https://www.archipanic.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Ennis-House-Photo-by-Ken-LunD-CC-BY-SA-2.0b.jpg

        More Conventional Spanish Style:
        https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/building-garden/doors-gates/set-of-eight-spanish-wrought-iron-doors-gates/id-f_17049911/

        +1
        • Since my wife is still interested (we haven’t heard back about our request for inspections of the roof and basement), I started looking at potential balcony railing solutions. With the combination of Spanish and Moorish influences in the house I started looking at ironwork similar to that found in Morocco, geometric with some Islam-influenced flairs.

          I was thinking perhaps something along the lines of
          https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3d/f0/53/3df0533eb5e4039dcea1d3a3df04e027.jpg

          or
          https://i.pinimg.com/originals/cb/d1/f8/cbd1f8bff061fcc867c8b227572bd758.jpg

          *IF* I were to go that route, it looks like I could get the three pieces of ironwork for around $2k, which certainly is reasonable. Of course, the idea of tempered glass that was brought up, allowing to fully maintain the sight lines also has merit. I hadn’t even considered that the low balcony was for sight lines looking down – I had just been thinking about the view from the ground floor.

          So, as all of this is ongoing, and so far hasn’t derailed, I also want to thank EVERYONE here (management included 😉 ) for the input and assistance. Currently, my wife and I are in the only home we’ve ever owned and we had plenty of help with the initial purchase process, so we’re sailing in fairly unfamiliar waters. The input, advice, and ideas that people have been giving here has been valuable, not only for the process, but in helping us avoid potential pitfalls (like a $100k roof replacement) while also keeping us grounded to the fact that such problems (like a $100k roof replacement) may not arise at all. To keep calm and carry on.

          Since I’m not certain how many of you are aware of just how kind and helpful you are with things like this, I just wanted to take a moment to recognize that.

          +1
      • old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
        OHD Supporter

        You could use tempered glass like the kind on deck railing with lake views. Might be almost invisible from the main floor.

        0
    • clasyklclasykl says: 72 comments

      I don’t think there’s a missing feature. My second story porch barely comes to my knees. If it was me, I’d install a clear glass handrail. The bottom fits into a channel mounted on the floor and no wood or metal is required at top of glass so other than some reflections, a glass railing disappears but gives the safety needed. Adding another element above the sculptural element that is there would take away from the current visual impact.

      +2
      • TGrantTGrant says: 1101 comments
        OHD Supporter

        New Orleans, LA

        You’re most likely correct that there’s no structural element missing at the mezzanine balustrade. It’s possible there was a heftier velvet rope but as OSHA and code enforcement were nonexistent then I would think this was purposeful design so as not to interfere with the great hall’s visual impact. Of course that wouldn’t make me any more willing to walk along it. I’m VERY height phobic and would probably have to crawl along the opposite wall.🤣

        +3
        • Hmm… would a heavier velvet rope been the sort of thing that might’ve been used? If so, I wonder if something could be fashioned that has a velvet rope exterior that has an iron railing at its core that is anchored in place. Likely it would be too heavy to be feasible but…my mind is keeping options open.

          While I’m now mindful of the view from above, I note that the upper walls of the main room have a few insets, similar to those of the windows. Any idea of what purpose (if any) that those details might have had? Would they be meant for art to be viewed from above? I mean, they’d be larger pieces so would certainly be striking from below as well…but I’m not certain if the indents are merely decorative or if they have a purpose. With my not being as knowledgeable as everyone else here, do you any thoughts?

          I’m also thinking of ways to finish the basement, because who doesn’t love a finished basement? Of course, I also don’t know how something like that falls among the thoughts of preservation either.

          0
          • TGrantTGrant says: 1101 comments
            OHD Supporter

            New Orleans, LA

            If a velvet rope was used it would’ve been pretty chunky, probably three inches diameter like you used to see along staircase inner walls. I’ve also seen padded, velvet covered steel chains used in a few instances. Personally, if there’s no physical evidence of a structural solution already visible I would be more tempted by the glass option.

            0
          • alfalf says: 25 comments
            OHD Supporter

            IL

            Regarding the wall insets up at the level of the stained glass windows and balcony, I wondered if they might have held larger art panels, possibilities include mosaics, figurative or decorative reliefs, and paintings. One of the parallels to Maher that I didn’t include before was about these insets. Take a look at the Patten House on the Maher website again, photos # 6 and #7 from the dining room, http://www.georgemaher.com/Resources/pattenstables5.gif and http://www.georgemaher.com/Resources/pattenstables6.gif (the file names are mislabeled). Those are two panels above the fireplace and the sideboard. I find it difficult to tell what they are made of, but it looks like it shines in a metallic way. I thought those insets in the Peru house might have held something like this. Not saying it’s Maher, but if that’s what was behind these decorative panels in the Patten House, the technique might be similar.

            +1
  24. PhillipPhillip says: 308 comments
    1910 Tudor/craftsman mix

    Well I agree about a heftier velvet rope, which will only add to the the grand movie house effect. Adding anything else there will take away from the stellar living room. If you are going to use that area for seating, as they have done, adding anything will impede the view into the room.

    0
  25. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Dec 21, 1916 Goshen Daily Democrat “Hugh McCaffrey bought the Elbert W. Shirk residence at Peru. The House when built six years ago cost $30,000.” Any chance this house was built by Joseph’s brother, Elbert?

    +1
    • JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
      OHD Supporter

      Thanks for that, which explains a few things! Yes, the house was apparently built for Elbert W. Shirk (1878-1919) on the family estate. His residency there doesn’t show up in directories or censuses. Hugh McCaffrey was a merchant and biscuit manufacturer who lived there only briefly before moving to California.

      https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/134230903/hugh-mccaffrey

      Elbert’s widow, Mary Emma Kimberly Shirk, was the daughter of John A. Kimberly, the founder of Kimberly-Clark Paper. She moved in with her parents and eventually inherited their fine home in Redlands CA.

      http://kimberlycrest.org/aboutus/

      https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/67928218/mary-emma-shirk

      +1
      • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

        So it seems, JimH, as per my entries and the link below, that Edward Walker Shirk, who went to, but did not graduate from, Harvard, but instead came home to take care of his ailing multimillionaire father and take over the family business, built this house, designed by a ”Chicago architect,” in about 1910.

        So you were right, it was a Harvard-educated Shirk. He studied ”science” at Harvard and later, according to the article I reference, was an architect himself, and therefore was in a good position to appreciate…and buy…the work of the leading architects of the day.

        So…who was the Chicago architect? I see elements of Sullivan and Wright in it, but like Snarlingsquirrel’s Maher better.

        +2
        • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1782 Quaker Georgian
          Worton, MD

          I’m still thinking Trost @ Trost as possibilities too.

          0
          • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

            The answer will turn up. It’s almost impossible that there is no record in the papers, and among permits and correspondences and the records of the architects themselves, etc., of retaining what must have been a prominent big-city architect by the scion of a very prominent local, longstanding family. And this house must have caused quite a stir, as they say, in Peru since it was big and daring for its day, doubly so in that area.

            At least we have confirmation that our suspicions were correct. We know it was a Chicago-area architect. The question is, who?

            This reminds me of a joke, which I will compress and edit to make it Dreamer-appropriate. Man walks into a bar, says he can identify any type and vintage of booze blindfolded, barkeep says free booze if he can identify 3 in a row. Blindfolded man tastes first sample: ”That’s Chateau LaBouge, 1923.” ”Right you are!” Man tastes next sample. ”This is whisky from the West Highlands.” ”Right again! And what’s this one?” Man takes a deep draught. ”Why that’s (edited: a fluid produced not in distilleries but by humans themselves)!” he exclaims. Barkeep says, ”Yes, but whose?”

            I think this is the dilemma we find ourselves in.

            +2
            • TGrantTGrant says: 1101 comments
              OHD Supporter

              New Orleans, LA

              Wasn’t there a devastating flood in Peru a few years after this was built? If so that might explain the dearth of records if they were lost.

              +1
      • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1782 Quaker Georgian
        Worton, MD

        Rabbit Hole Alert: The Redlands, CA connection to the family also makes sense in a way with the Mission Revival architecture. Redlands was a wealthy winter resort located very close to Riverside, CA (Once a popular winter resort and one of the main birthplaces of the Mission Revival style). Riverside was like the original Palm Springs, but with orange groves. Redlands still has tremendous East Coast style mansions of all revival styles imaginable.

        Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside (still open!). The Spa is aptly named Kelly’s Place. Watch the video to get a sense of the vastness of this place: https://www.historichotels.org/us/hotels-resorts/the-mission-inn-hotel-and-spa/history.php

        +2
  26. PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

    ”After their (Elbert Walker Shirk and Mary’s) marriage, the couple lived in Bedford, Indiana where Elbert managed a cement manufacturing plant. (My caps) THEN THEY MOVED TO PERU WHERE THEY BUILT A PRARIE STYLE HOUSE DESIGNED BY A CHICAGO ARCHITECT. Elbert was President of the Indiana Manufacturing Company in Peru, manufacturing refrigerators under the Hoosier, Astoriaand Indiana labels.” (See link below, p.6)

    ”Elbert’s Harvard career was noticeably uneventful. Dropping and adding classes, extended periods of absenteeism due to a variety of aliments and poor grades did little to inspire (my caps) THE FUTURE ARCHITECT.” (See link below, p.4)

    A little more research will demonstrate if the subject property is the Chicago-architect-designed house referred to here, and who that Chicago architect was.

    Snarlingsquirrel, don’t bite off your tail yet. I’ll keep my arm and leg for now.

    What is very clear is that Edward was at the very least in the family where the brothers all went to Harvard and the father, Milton, was worth $5,000,000 when he died in 1903 (see same link). So these were highly educated and wealthy folks with one son who would become an architect and owned a cement company and was very much in a position to appreciate the cutting-edge work of Maher, Sullivan, and Wright…and, I suspect, buy some of it.

    We’re getting closer.

    http://redlandsfortnightly.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/spiller1706.pdf

    +4
    • JimHJimH says: 5638 comments
      OHD Supporter

      Great story, thanks! It confirms that the house was built for Elbert and not his brother Joseph – I don’t get the prize this time. A Prairie Style house built in 1911 would almost certainly be designed by a Chicago architect, so that factlet isn’t telling us a whole lot. Also, since Elbert & Mary Emma didn’t need the money when they sold the house in 1916, maybe they didn’t much like the place!

      +1
    • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

      And my apologies, Elbert, for calling you Edward.

      +1
  27. PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

    Also, I would encourage you to click on the link above if only to read Edward’s colorful story…rescuing a man overboard in WWI, flying a seaplane full of men upside-down and crashing in the water, etc. And living on the Harvard campus adjacent to the slop heap while the truly rich boys lived in luxury housing, and that with a father worth $5 million in then-dollars. A humble existence indeed! Even if the tale is half hyperbole, the other half is pretty impressive.

    And in Peru building a house for a trifling $30,000, something like $850,000 in today’s dollars. These old Harvard boys would be heartbroken at the depreciation.

    +4
  28. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    I see him in the papers as both Elbert and Edward so it must have been a common mistake. Hard to believe a house this great in a little town like Peru wouldn’t have gotten some press in the local papers. Tried to sell my wife on moving to Peru, but she’s not buying…sigh. If it had a pool she might go for it.

    +2
  29. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    The front hall fireplace of the Harry Rubens estate looks very similar to the fireplace at the Peru house. Both are about the same height flanked by similar square columns with a similar mantel also about the same height. Unfortunately I couldn’t find an online picture of the fireplace to link. It is shown in the book, North Shore Chicago by Cohen & Benjamin. Additionally the band designs used on the Rubens estate sort of remind me of the upper tier band here. If this is a Maher, then it would be just a bit before Rockledge.
    https://www.pleasanthome.org/virtual-visits

    +1
  30. snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1782 Quaker Georgian
    Worton, MD

    NOT TROST or TROST: I received three emails from folks in The Trost Society in El Paso, and they agree this house is interesting but not designed by the Trost firm. Their conclusion is based on there being no record of the project, they don’t see the stylistic connection, and that the Trost firm was just so consumed with significant El Paso projects in 1910. It seems we’re looking for a Chicago firm anyway.

    +1
    • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

      As you know, Snarling, that was my own sense, too, that while there are some stylistic similarities because the work is of the same period, I wasn’t seeing the most daring elements of this house in the work of Trost & Trost. Now you seem to have the same opinion from a more Trostworthy source.

      +1
  31. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    H.H. Waterman

    0
  32. PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

    Codger cheated. He got if from the realtor. That’s cheating.

    No it’s not. Good work. Seems Waterman was at his peak in 1910, and viewing his work, I see enough of the same sensibility and elements to believe this could be his. He seems to have been prolific. Now that we know who it appears to have been, it might be easier to find mention of this house in period archives, articles, etc. It certainly fits the ”Chicago architect” mention in the Shirk bio I linked to above.

    +1
  33. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Purista is right. I cheated, but I did figure out it was Elbert not Joseph…anywho (sounds Hoosier to me) I don’t think the stars are aligned as I’ve had no luck persuading my wife. Something about paying the heat/ac bill on 5600 sq feet has her uneasy. Seriously are there ways to affordably heat these monsters? Geothermal maybe?

    0
    • PuristaPurista says: 235 comments

      Codger, it goes without saying that you need to preserve this house. So appeal to your wife’s deep-seated rationality with this choice of heating solutions for your old 5,600-sf house:

      1. You buy a lifetime’s worth of fuel with all the money you just saved on a house that’s $329,000 and not $3.29M as it might be if located somewhere else. And, although unlikely, if this doesn’t persuade her,

      2. You confine yourself to one bedroom, the kitchen, and one study for the winter, effectively living in a human-scaled 750-sf house for the heating season and draining the pipes in the rest of the house. After a few years of this, it will become quite routine. A routine P.I.T.A.

      And geothermal, YES! You barge it out the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, ICELAND! Bingo! A geyser in the atrium! (Oh, you meant the other geothermal? It’s a thought, but you’re heating a cavern. Now if those roof tiles are shot and you remove and substitute solar panels, now there you’ve got something. Good pairing, photovoltaic and geothermal, and not terribly invasive in the house. Good for summer cooling, too.)

      But…and I hate to bring up sore subjects but it’s reality…first have your plaster tested for asbestos aggregate (not terribly likely at this early date, but possible) and also look at boiler and ducts or pipes for asbestos wrap. Lead paint? Of course, but hopefully well encapsulated under later layers. Spanish tile roof? Just make sure it doesn’t leak (much).

      I think you’re good to go, Codger. Important piece of architecture.

      0
  34. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    I visited the neighborhood yesterday. There are all walks of life in Peru and the crime rate is higher than many places, but it’s okay and none of that would stop me from living there. Lots of nice homes that are taken care of near this place. The stucco has lots of cracks…maybe water damage…maybe insect damage? Needs thorough inspection. Also outside above the round arch door from the grand room appears to be something bulging in the stucco. I think there might have been another series of rafter tails or maybe a porch pergola that was attached to the house that has gone missing. The original stucco was a product called Stonekote. More details about Stonekote and a list of architects who used it can be found on the pages just before p137 here. The original color was embedded in the final coat. Not paint like now. Unsure how to restore that?

    https://www.google.com/books/edition/Sweet_s_Architectural_Catalog_File/O9JBAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=waterman

    This Stonekote catalogue below includes a Maher home and many other architecturally designed homes. Unfortunately not our Peru subject. If earlier Stonekote catalogs can be located might get lucky.
    https://archive.org/details/StonekoteColoredWaterproofCementStucco

    +1
    • snarlingsquirrelsnarlingsquirrel says: 583 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1782 Quaker Georgian
      Worton, MD

      I admire you for your on-the-ground investigative reporting old codger. Thank you for going there and for actually thinking of asking the realtor about the architect. We’re all rooting for this house to pass into sensitive, dreamer hands.

      I guess the Stonekote was essentially tinted gunite (spray concrete, like for an inground swimming pool). It was popular during the Arts & Crafts movement because it was considered fireproof and no-maintenance. It was also popular out-West on early Spanish/Mission Revival architecture because it could be sprayed-on ruddy to evoke adobe texture or something. It makes sense this house would have been constructed with uncommon technology.

      +1
      • old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
        OHD Supporter

        A more natural finish to the stucco would help with it’s curb appeal considerably. Thank you for the suggestion. I did locate a c1912 Stonekote Catalogue with illustrated homes at the Henry Ford Museum. Put in a request for info whenever they reopen.

        Most of the Main street side is designed for servants. The outside door leads right into the butlers pantry and kitchen. There’s also a servant stairway that leads to an upper full bath, servants quarters with small sitting area, a dumbwaiter, and a small room just off the open hall that may have been used for staging meals or some other service role. There is an early intercom system that the servant could use to receive orders or ring specific rooms. Small cupped microphones are still seen in some of the owner’s side bedrooms. The Hood Street side was the owner’s side.

        There are no drone photos, but if you go to google earth you can get a higher res view of the roof. The house is basically a big right triangle with the corner rounded off.
        The upper clay tile roof is also curvilinear as you know, but the clay tiles have been removed from the inside (side facing the backyard) and replaced with asphalt shingles. The harvested old tiles were saved and come with the house so you may have enough to keep the front side tiles going for the next century. It’s the big flat roof, scuppers, internal roof drains, etc that have caused all the problems and rot that remains in the back wall.

        I think if the bricks were removed down to the brick ledge from the hypotenuse side of the foundation you might get enough access to assess the rotten plates and floor joist ends. And if things get uglier you might be able to carefully cut the outside stucco off while leaving the inside plaster/lathe alone. Otherwise the beautiful frieze may be in jeopardy.

        https://earth.google.com/web/search/154+W+Main+St,+Peru,+IN/@40.751829,-86.0740466,197.4942607a,777.11335871d,35y,0h,45t,0r/data=CoIBGlgSUgolMHg4ODE0NmZjMDZkNTk3M2MzOjB4MzZjMjQyMTQwNWMxNTVkNRmal8PuO2BEQCFSWPMtvYRVwCoXMTU0IFcgTWFpbiBTdCwgUGVydSwgSU4YAiABIiYKJAn72OD_7dlEQBEENExYndlEQBkVLmvbnHlVwCEhRDCdA3pVwCgC

        +1
  35. old codgerold codger says: 27 comments
    OHD Supporter

    If you look at where the inner curve of the curvilinear gamble roof and the main flat roof meet it basically forms a bowl or funnel. I believe originally there were flat roof drains possibly contained within the interior great room pillars that lead into the basement and into the sewer system. I suspect those drains were clogged or misunderstood and when the inner clay tiles were replaced with asphalt shingles I think they may have also raised that end of the flat roof so that now it flows water off the backside of the house under the rafter tails leading to the brick knee wall damage and internal wall damage.

    +1

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