Photo credit: MHT File Photo , Undated Photo

Property Name: Wright Butler House
Date Listed: 1/31/1978
Inventory No.: AL-IV-A-009
Location: 205, Columbia Street, Cumberland, Allegany County

Description: The Wright Butler House is a c. 1896 Queen Anne-style suburban one-unit dwelling that consists of a 2 1/2-story rectangular brick structure on a cut stone foundation. The house is long and narrow and sits with the narrow end facing the street to the south. It has a strong feel of verticality resulting from its stylistic features and its location atop a slight hill rising from Columbia Street. The sharply pitched roof is covered with slate shingles and has two ridgelines. The ridgeline of the front block runs parallel to the street facade while that of the north section runs perpendicular to it. The brick exterior walls flare outward at the bottom to cover the wide foundation walls. A brick belt course runs along the side walls below the second story windows. A plain wooden cornice encircles the house. Three internal chimneys stand along the east side, the front one projecting slightly from the east gable end. The principal facade is asymmetrical and dominated by a 2 1/2-story projecting bay with three windows on each level, that terminates with a five-sided dormer, giving the appearance of a tower. The main entrance, in the west bay, has a paneled door with a large light in the upper half and a transom above. A one-story shed-roofed porch with turned posts, a balustrade, and spindled frieze stretches across the facade. The entrance bay holds a pedimented gable. The upper levels of the bay window and the porch gable and ends are sheathed with wood shingles. The principal windows of the house are double-hung wooden sashes with multiple light arrangements. The windows of the tower have 1/1 lights on the first floor, 6/1 lights on the second floor, and 6/6 on the third. The interior of the house has an irregular arrangement of rooms with a vestibule in the southwesterly corner and the stairhall along the east wall.

Significance: The house at 205 Columbia Street was the home of Wright Butler (1868-1932), one of Cumberland's leading architects at the turn of the century. Butler's residence indicates his familiarity with current architectural styles. The unassuming appearance of his own residence contrasts markedly with his dramatic courthouse on Prospect Square. It is probable that Butler's own house represents a more accurate statement of his position in Cumberland (local architect and son of a prosperous furniture maker) than the braggadocio of his first known work, the courthouse. This house is an example of Queen Anne style suburban domestic architecture. It was erected in the late 1890s and is one of four houses along Columbia Street that are believed to be Butler's work. Butler leased the property from his parents in 1896 and gained full title in 1907.




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