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5 Arcade Detail–Wedding Cake House
Image by Universal Pops (80% back and still holding)
A series of 7 photos
In 1918 G. T. Lester, the founder of the Lester Lumber Company in Martinsville, Virginia, designed and built this unusual-looking brick home. Because of the seeming layers (and, perhaps, the white color) the house has become known as the Wedding Cake House. The style is the “catch-all” category called Exotic-Revival. The tiered stories, the roofline with the projecting piers, the central tower, the corbelled brickwork and the arcaded porch collectively contribute to the castle-like appearance of the home, although the structure is not extremely large.
The main floor sits upon a raised basement; the smaller second level is a cube resting upon the first story; the third level, the tower, is yet another cube, but it’s set at right angles to the other two floors. At the rear is a vinyl-covered one-story garage addition. The key to the house seems to be the central tower or core, which contains the stairs, original bathroom, and cooling and heating systems, the ducts created by open brickwork in the thick walls. The floor plan of the first level (according to the VDHR) consists of 4 identical triangular-shaped rooms with iron grilles for heating and cooling; no fireplaces exist. They would logically narrow closer to the central section.
The exterior walls of the structure are three bricks thick. They contain a number of decorative elements—the raised brick that outlines the arched porch bays, the crenellated parapet, the corbelled and patterned brickwork at the cornice lines, and belt courses. The flat roof has projecting piers that help create the appearance of battlements. An arcaded wraparound porch on three sides provides a sense of size to the structure; the piers of the arches extend to the ground suggesting stability of structure, and the corbelling pattern of the parapet walls is enlarged and repeated in the porch walls. The front door has no surround but does have decorative panels. The windows on the first two stories are single sash with a single-light window capped by a stained-glass transom. The windows on the third story are multi-paned.
The house is located at 308 Starling Drive in Martinsville and seems to be in superb condition. It’s included in the East Church Street/Starling Avenue Historic District, an area of residences from late 19th to early 20th century. [DHR ID # for the district is #120-5002 and for the house #120-0007.] This district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006– #06000805
Source: Virginia Department of Historic Resources
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