The garden front of Craigdarroch Castle, which was built in 1890 in Victoria, Canada for coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, who unfortunately died before the house was finished.
Richardson Romanesque details can be seen in the rough stonework, round-head arches, and the semi-tower on the south façade. Another taller tower rises above the porte cochere on the north side. The steep roofline, clad in red slate, contrasts well with the warm stone of the walls. From the house, and especially from the upper rooms, turrets and balconies, are distant views over the City and the Straits of Juan de Fuca towards the Olympic Mountain range in Washington State over twenty miles away.
The house is now a historic house museum and open to the public.
See their website: http://www.thecastle.ca/
The interior of Craigdarroch features this prefabricated oak staircase from Chicago, which rises through five floors to the tower at the top of the house.
Craigdarroch features fabulous stained glass in several of its rooms, including in windows centered in the chimney over the fireplace mantles in three of its formal reception rooms. The renowned Povey Brothers firm of Portland Oregon crafted the stained glass. The architect of Craigdarroch, W. Williams, was based in Portland and he would have been familiar with the superb work of the Povey Brothers, and incorporated it into his designs for Craigdarroch.
Variations can be found in the design and construction of Richardson Romanesque homes. They are not always built of rough stone. Local materials, either more available or economical were also used to build homes in this style.
Above: Here a Texas example designed in 1892 by architect James Riely Gordon was built in brick, but retained the massing, arched windows and towers that were important to the style.
On the west coast, there are a few examples of Richardson Romanesque being built in frame construction, and being clad in cedar shingles, which, when used successfully, can simulate the massivity that the style demands, as well as producing the hallmark rounded towers and curved archways.
This shingle house with masonry arches has the design hallmarks of Richardson Romanesque – but built with local materials, in this case cedar shingles stained a handsome barn red. On highway 101 in Oregon.
A National and State Historic Site.
Richardson Romanesque homes have a special quality that is not found in other homes. They are homes designed to give an air of solid impregnability, and the appearance of a home that will exist for the ages. The appeal of this style for a rich industrial tycoon was compelling, for it symbolized what was, for the owner, his own destiny, of going on forever. Alas, neither the owners of the homes, nor in many cases, the homes themselves, proved to live for the ages. In many cases, like that of Craigdarroch in Victoria, and its builder Robert Dunsmuir, the man who lavished his fortune on his home did not live to see it completed.
Many of these homes, being too large and generally not able to be maintained without a vast fortune at one’s fingertips, were demolished within sixty or seventy years of construction.
We are therefore fortunate that some of these grand homes have survived. Often built with the best materials, and too large for residential use today, many have been turned into art galleries, museums, offices or other uses, ensuring their survival – and our enjoyment – for future generations.
Doorway at the Glessner House, Chicago
Open to the Public
Designed by Henry Hobson Richardson