|HISTORIC WEBBLEY : HOME AND ARCHITECTURE
The house is an early twentieth century overbuilding of a mid-nineteenth century Italianate dwelling, and though remnants of the earlier structure can be seen in places, the house is of thoroughgoing Colonial Revival character. The main portion of the present structure, the rear half of which incorporates the framing of the 1852 house, is of frame construction on a brick foundation and roughly square in plan, rising two stories under a low-pitched hip roof with a flat roof deck and roof balustrade. The twin parlors at the front of the home, the three bay front with the four large fluted Ionic columns, and the two front bedrooms with adjoining baths on the second floor were all a part of the 1907 renovations. In addition, the two story bay which projects from the center of the north side was added in 1907. The side porch with the porte-cochere attached was also added as a part of the changes made in the structure at the turn of the century.
The main roof of Victorian metal shingles is accented by gabled attic dormers centered on its west and north slopes. Each dormer contains a louvered attic ventilator beneath a fanlight window. Brick interior end chimneys rise near the west ends of the north and south sides of house. A pair of interior chimneys rise on the backside of the roof deck.. Windows are of nine-over-one sash on the first floor, and six-over-one on the second.
A full-height, flat-roof portico supported by the fluted Ionic columns dominates the symmetrical three-bay front on the west side of the home. The columns end with ornamental capitals made of terra-cotta. The capitals are affixed to the columns with load-bearing wood plugs, which carry the weight from above. The capitals are of the scamozzi design.
The wide frieze of the portico contains rows of paired horizontal panels. Curvilinear sawn brackets carry underneath the overhanging eaves of the portico and continue under the eaves of the entire house. A balustrade with turned balusters and large, square-in-section posts - components identical to those on the roof deck above - surmounts the portico roof.
The portico is flanked by one-story porches sheltering the end bays of the façade. These are supported by Doric columns connected by a handrail carried on turned balusters. Similar, but shorter balustrades are mounted along the flat roofs of these porches.
The central bay of the façade extends forward on the first-floor level in a three-sided vestibule. A single French door of three lights over five under a fanlight window occupies the center face of the projection, flanked by paneled pilasters. On the side faces of the projection are side window lights composed of twenty-one lights each, with small groupings of six lights over fifteen light groupings. A balustrade carries across the top of this projecting vestibule, in front of the paired windows occupying the center bay of the façade on the second floor level.
As previously noted, a two story bay projects from the center of the north side elevation. An open porch with a porte-cochere attached extends off the first floor around this central bay; both porch and porte-cochere have roof balustrades identical to those of the small façade porches.
Two hip roof ells extend from the main block of the home on the rear elevation. The one on the southeast corner is two stories and two bays deep; its two-story companion is only one bay deep, but it is in turn extended on the first floor level with a one-story, hip roof projection. A one-story, flat roof enclosure connects the two ells.
The interior of the main block of the house follows a center hall plan, two rooms deep. Remnants of the woodwork of the 1852 house can still be seen, chiefly with an occasional symmetrically molded door surround with corner block rosettes, but the majority of the present interior work is high quality finish in the Colonial Revival manner. The large flat arch leading into the northwest parlor features two acanthus leaf corbels as compared to the pocket doors that lead into the opposite parlor on the southwest side. Consistent throughout the first level are molded Victorian cornices and high molded baseboards, with plaster cover molding in the dining room. In fact, most of the interior walls in the home are plastered. The doors have horizontal panels, and large sliding pocket doors separate the first floor rooms on the north and south sides. A wainscot of vertical panels carries throughout the center hall. The hall is divided mid-way by a transverse flat arch flanked by free-standing circular-in-section posts set on paneled pedestals. The closed-string stair rises along the south wall of the rear section of the hall; its molded handrail is supported by thin balusters and it terminates in a volute.
A group of five matching brass chandeliers adorn the formal areas on the main level of the home. The dinning room, in addition to one of the brass chandeliers, features two brass wall sconces that are identical in design to the chandeliers. The wallpaper in the dining room is a hand-painted Italian mural, which was personally selected by Miss Fay during one of her European trips. The dining room chairs, which have long since been bequeathed to heirs of the family, were originally covered with a hand-woven fabric, which was made to match the wall mural.
The mantels or fire surrounds in the home vary in form, including Neo-Georgian, Neo-Federal, and Neo-Classical types. Several of the mantels have delicate relief carvings of garlands, swags, urns, and other motifs. All of the mantels on the first level are accented with variations of marble tile. All of the mantels on the second level are of classical French and English design with iron firebacks. At the top of the staircase on the second floor are identical reeded columns mimicking those directly below, flanked by twin stairways terminating at either side of the ells. In the upper hallways of the second floor appear several turned Victorian corner beads, some with center turnings. The baths display Victorian hexagonal mosaic tiles on the floor, and some have the original 1907 wall tiles. The bath of lavender and yellow décor on the upper level was copied by Miss Fay from New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The interior of the second level features twin master bedrooms with twin baths on the west side (the front elevation). Miss Fay and Governor Gardner always used the master bedroom on the northwest side of the home until Governor Gardner's death, when Miss Fay moved her sleeping quarters into the old library on the lower level. The second level of the two-story bay on the north side was used as a bedroom, sitting room, or den over the years. The rear elevation on the north side terminates with a bedroom/kitchen.
The front master bedroom on the southwest side was used by the Gardners' children as a bedroom and at times a second level den. Ralph Webb Gardner used this room for his own bedroom when he lived in the home as an adult from 1977 until his death in 1982. It was in this very room he took his own life on March 22, 1982, exactly 100 years from the date of the birth of his father, Governor O. Max Gardner.
The two-story bay on the southeast side of the home consists of two large bedrooms and a single master bath. The southeast ell ends with twin two level sleeping porches featuring rollout windows of three lights over one.