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Gibbs House


The Gibbs House (98 N. Transit St.) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2003, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Gibbs House (98 North Transit Street) is located on the east side of North Transit Street a block north of the Erie Canal. The house is situated near the border between the city's large northwest residential neighborhood and the central business district. The surrounding area of North Transit Street is lined with nineteenth-century houses. Niagara Court, the alley abutting the south side of the Gibbs House, provides access to parking serving the nearby First Presbyterian churches and businesses located to the east and south.

The Gibbs House sits on a small level lot measuring approximately forty-seven feet wide by sixty-six feet deep. The front facade is set about five feet back from the sidewalk. At its sides, the house is tightly hemmed in by the neighbor's driveway to the north and Niagara Court to the south. A very short concrete driveway occupies the area between the alley and the main block of the house. To the rear, a small yard is enclosed by a tall board fence. A large black walnut tree is located in front of the Gibbs House between the sidewalk and the curb.

Exterior

The Gibbs House embodies many characteristics typical of Lockport's nineteenth-century domestic stone architecture. It is a two-and-one-half-story, front-gable modestly scaled vernacular house constructed of gray Gasport Limestone. The main section of the Gibbs House is a rectangular block, oriented with its narrow end facing the street. To the rear of the main block is a one-story wing that extends beyond the south side of the main block.

The main facade is distinguished from the other exterior walls by the use of range-course, rock-face, gray ashlar. The south wall of the main block is constructed with coursed rubble while the other exterior walls are uncoursed rubble. The corners of the Gibbs House are reinforced with large rock-face quoins. A dressed watertable occurs at all walls of the main block. Window and door openings incorporate dressed lintels and sills which are currently painted white.

The Gibbs House's street-facing (west) facade is organized in the front-gable, three-bay/side entrance arrangement that dominated domestic vernacular design in western New York between 1830 and 1870. At the main block, vertically proportioned window openings contain one-over-one double-hung wood sash; are of a uniform size; and are regularly arranged at the main (west) and south facades. The three-quarter-light front door and wraparound porch date from the early twentieth century. The two-bay porch extends from the front door, around the corner, to the north wall of the main block. The porch is supported by battered and paneled square posts, although the two front posts have been replaced by plain square posts. The porch has a closed handrail. The rear bay of the porch is enclosed with an early twentieth-century tripartite window system containing removable four-light storms and three-light transom sash. A small rectangular attic window is located at the main facade gable. The appearance of simple enclosed projecting eaves on the Gibbs House marks the transition away from the cornice returns and soffited eaves associated with the Greek Revival style to the simpler eave treatments used in most vernacular domestic construction during the second half of the nineteenth century.

At the rear wing, window and door openings are irregularly arranged and contain wood six-over-six sash. At the west side of the rear wing facing the end of the short driveway, double doors set within a projecting wood shingle surround are protected by a bracket-support extended eave.

Interior

The interior of the Gibbs House survives with a relatively high degree of integrity of design, materials, and craftsmanship. Most rooms retain original plaster finishes, base moldings, casings, and four-panel doors. The original room configuration survives intact, as does a variety of simple Greek Revival era woodwork.

The Gibbs House's main entrance opens to the main hall containing an open stair. The stair has a ca.1900 square paneled newel attached to an older handrail with turned spindles. A ca.1900 single-sash window is located adjacent to the base of the stair. A wide doorway opens from the hall into the parlor. The parlor is connected to the dining room located to the rear. Both rooms feature Greek Revival wide shouldered window casings extending to the floor. A wood recessed panel fills the area between window sill and the floor. The kitchen, located at the rear of the house in the back wing, has half-height wainscoting applied to its walls. The second floor plan is similar to the first floor and contains similar trim.

Significance

The Gibbs House (98 North Transit Street) is an intact example of nineteenth-century stone architecture in Lockport, New York. The Gibbs House is associated with the historic context "The History of Stone Architecture in Lockport: 1821-1909" which is fully described in The Stone Buildings of Lockport, New York Multiple Property Documentation Form. Although the Gibbs House was altered about 1900, it remains a good example of the modest scale and use of readily available naive stone that typified much of domestic architecture during the first several decades of the city's existence. The Gibbs House represents the "Gasport Limestone - Ashlar primary facade/uncoursed rock-face or rubble secondary facades" type of domestic stone architecture.

History

The development of the canal and the ensuing commerce and industry it spawned resulted in Lockport's first period of significant growth. Lockport developed rapidly during the third and fourth decades of the nineteenth century due to the successful harnessing of the canal's waterpower, and the access to distant markets provided by the canal. The 1840s canal expansion project, included the massive rebuilding of the flight-of-five locks, aided the local quarry industry and kept a community of skilled masons in the Lockport area. The combination of inexpensive local stone and experienced local masons gave Lockport its unique legacy of stone architecture.

The story of Philip J. Gibbs is typical of the many people who prospered in Lockport during the third and fourth decades of the nineteenth century. Gibbs was born in Tompkins County, New York in 1797. He came to Lockport in 1823 and married Lydia Shaw of nearby Wrights Corners. Upon his arrival in Lockport, Gibbs began a life-long career in land speculation and real estate sales. He sold more than seventy properties during his lifetime, primarily in the north end of Lockport. Gibbs purchased the property at 98 North Transit in 1848 and had the stone house built on it around 1850. The New York State census of 1855 recorded that Philip and his family lived at 98 North Transit Street in a stone house valued at $2,000.00. City directories indicate that Philip resided in the house until his death in 1867. Lydia remained in the house until the time of her death in 1881.

Philip and Lydia had two children.

Their son, Rufus, lived at home until he married Caroline (also known as Charlotte Irene) Burnside in 1860. Rufus and Caroline moved to 40 Green Street where he worked as a carpenter and boat builder. A notice in the January 6, 1873 issue of the Lockport Daily Journal indicates that Rufus "has a gang of men employed in quarrying stone on a lot owned by him on the corner of Gooding and Green streets, adjacent to the Central Railroad...Mr. Gibbs proposes to sell the stone to parties desirous to use them in building." Rufus and Caroline's daughter Hannah married William Watson. The Gibbs' daughter, Sara, was widowed at a young age. After Philips death, Sara stayed with her mother. Sara eventually married Thomas Craine. The house remained in the Craine family until 1898 when it was sold by A. Clark Craine, Thomas' son.

Architectural Design

The Gibbs House is an example of the simple, modest stone houses constructed by the village's working and middle class families during the first three decades of Lockport's history. The Gibbs Houses' simple rectangular block massing, front-gable orientation, and three bay/side entrance facade are typical characteristics of Lockport's domestic architecture during the period.

The Gibbs House displays masonry techniques typical in Lockport during the period including the use of dressed lintels and sills, massive quoins and the use of quarry-face stone. The street facade displays more refined masonry work than the other facades. The front of the Gibbs House is laid in range-course ashlar while the secondary facades are constructed of coursed and uncoursed rubble.

Like many of Lockport's remaining early stone houses, the appearance of the Hopkins House was affected by subsequent alterations. The exterior porch, stair window, front door, stair newel and several other interior alterations appear to date from about the opening of the twentieth century. These alterations have acquired historic significance and enhance the value of the house in telling the history of Lockport.

Today the Gibbs House survives as a single-family residence in a nineteenth-century residential neighborhood. Despite minor twentieth-century alterations, the Gibbs House remains an excellent example of Lockport's nineteenth century domestic stone construction.

References

(See Stone Buildings of Lockport, NY Multiple Property Documentation Form.)

Interview and supporting documentation provided by Greta Shuarte, descendant of Philip Gibbs.

  1. Ross, Claire, N.Y. State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Dole House, Lockport NY, nomination document, 2002, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Gibbs House Map

Street Names
Transit Street North

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