John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio

Date added: March 01, 2024 Categories: Ohio House Mansion Gothic Revival Wilson, James K.
North (front) and west side (1979)

John S. Baker emigrated to Cincinnati from Westfield, N.J. in 1814. In 1817 he married Ester Flint, daughter of Hezekiah Flint and a man of wealth. It is assumed that Mr. Baker managed his wife's estate upon the death of Mr. Flint. Mr. Baker built the house on a plateau above the Ohio River and set back from Madison Road, the main road for the then-rural suburb of Cincinnati.

This house is now situated on a large lot in association with late 19th and early 20th century architecture. The studio and servant's quarters (now used for storage) sit below the house on the slope of the hill. The house is well situated and the site is complimentary to the building.

The John S. Baker House is an example of Gothic Revival architecture and the only example of large-scale brick residential architecture in Cincinnati exhibiting a variety of architectural detailing associated with the style. Distinguished by the asymmetrical facades and plan the building is further articulated by crenelations and battlements of the tower, coping, and decorative window enframement. The fenestration overall is irregular and contains on the main facades curvelinear, gothic, and quartefoil motifs. The gothic mode is exhibited on the interior elements and found on the large doors, balustrade, and window surrounds.

The design of the building is attributed to James Keys Wilson (1828-1894), a noted Cincinnati architect who produced notable works in the Gothic Revival style. The building is attributed to him by Evelyn Hollister Perry, a great granddaughter of John Baker. Wilson was assisted by John Baker's son, Nathan, who subsequently toured Europe and purchased many of the interior furnishings. The studio was built for Nathan, a sculptor of local fame. Wilson and Nathen Baker were cousins. Other buildings designed by James Keys Wilson include the Gatehouse complex (1863) Dexter Mausoleum (c. 1869) at Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati; Issac M. Wise Temple (1864-66), Cincinnati; Scarlett Oaks (1867) (Schoenberger Residence), Cincinnati; and Old Main (1858-1872) Bethany College, Bethany, West Virginia. All but the Wise Temple are in the Gothic Revival style.

Building Description

The John Baker House was constructed in c. 1854 and exhibits Gothic Revival architecture. The design is attributed to James Keys Wilson, a noted Cincinnati architect.

The brick common bond building is distinguished by its two-story asymmetrical facades accentuated by a three-story tower topped with a projecting battlement with stone caps highlighting the merlons and crenelles. The front facade wall gable is distinguished by the stone coping and decorative pinnacle. The first floor exhibits a one-story bay with long multi-paned window panels capped with curvilinear tracery and quatrefoil frieze panels. The second floor has paired long rectangular windows contained in a single pointed arch with gothic tracery. The frontispiece is distinguished by a recessed, raised entrance surrounded by a compound pointed arch. The low gable with stone coping is crowned by a pinnacle with crockets. The second floor of the tower is pierced by circular windows with quatrefoils and the third floor paired rectangular windows are capped with decorative label lintels and stone sills underneath.

The wall dormer on the west front facade is capped with stone coping and decorative pinnacle and the oriel window is accentuated with tracery. The first-floor windows are paired with decorative label lintels and tracery. A horizontal band course with tracery is found intermittently under the gutters.

The west side facade has paired polygon chimney caps surmounting the partially exposed chimney stacks. The stepped gable end with coping and label lintels on top of the recessed rectangular windows further accentuate the facade.

The east side facade exhibits two gable wall dormers with paired rectangular windows at the second floor and the open side porch has cast iron columns with decorative tudor arches.

The rear facade has large rectangular single or triple windows with flat or label lintels.

The walls are broken by belt and string courses. The roof is metal standing seam and the building rests atop a raised ashlar foundation.

The addition, constructed in 1909, is sympathetic and in character with the Baker House. It is distinguished by a stepped gable roof with coping; facade broken by string and belt courses, windows are 1/1 double hung sash with flat stone lintels and lugsills. The back portion of the second floor exhibits an open porch treatment with cast iron balustrades having quatrefoils and lancet arches. The porch is further highlighted by a tudor arch on the west facade.

The interior of the Baker House is asymmetrical in plan with distinctive Gothic Revival detailing. The balustrade leading to the second floor has cast iron tracery and balusters. The stair brackets have a modified ogee arch. The door and window surrounds are wood and many exhibit label lintels. The interior doors have relief panels with lancet arches. The fireplaces are marble with foliation which has the same motif as the ceiling molding. The ceiling treatment has intersecting compound ribs with foliated bosses. The ceiling molding also exhibits foliation and is a different motif in each room. The crystal chandeliers were imported from France.

The studio, built shortly after the main house, is a small-scale rectangular in plan frame building with board and batten wall treatment. The gable roof is accentuated by a standing seam metal roof and decorative finial. The north facade has a rather simple gothic window treatment with twin pointed arches recessed within the main arch. The side entrance is highlighted by a latticework porch treatment. The building is supported by a field stone foundation, exposed towards the rear.

The servant's residence, built c. 1890, is a small T-plan frame building with clapboard wall treatment. The gable roof is a metal standing seam and is pierced by a high corbelled triple stacked brick chimney with chimney caps. The windows are 1/1 double hung sash with simple wooden surrounds. A half-round multi-light window breaks the front facade under the gable end. A one-story rectangular in plan garage that does not relate in style or period of construction is located west of the main house.

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio North (front) and west side (1979)
North (front) and west side (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio East half of north (front) facade (1979)
East half of north (front) facade (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Detail of window lintel (1979)
Detail of window lintel (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Architectural detail on front (1979)
Architectural detail on front (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Decorative banding (1979)
Decorative banding (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio East side facade (1979)
East side facade (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Cast iron porch treatment on east facade (1979)
Cast iron porch treatment on east facade (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Rear facade (1979)
Rear facade (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Addition; west and south facades (1979)
Addition; west and south facades (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Porch treatment on addition (1979)
Porch treatment on addition (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Studio building (1979)
Studio building (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Servant house looking at north facade (1979)
Servant house looking at north facade (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Balustrade detailing (1979)
Balustrade detailing (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Door and lintel treatment (1979)
Door and lintel treatment (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Ceiling treatment and fireplace (1979)
Ceiling treatment and fireplace (1979)

John S. Baker House, Cincinnati Ohio Detail of main door (1979)
Detail of main door (1979)