Fendall Hall’s architectural style is known as Italianate, which was popular from the 1850s until the 1870s. Italianate architecture was particularly popular in commercial buildings and in the Northeast, but it was least popular in the South; however, Eufaula has several striking examples of Italianate architecture, due in part to Mr. George Whipple, who is responsible for most of the Italianate structures in Eufaula, including Fendall Hall. He and Mr. Edward B. Young (the original owner) would have collaborated over pattern books to select specific elements for the new home.
Italianate buildings are rarely one story, oftentimes reaching up to three stories tall, and are usually elevated higher off the ground, which allows for better air circulation. Other defining features include wide overhanging eaves, decorative brackets beneath a decorative cornice, tall but narrow windows, a square cupola, wrap around porch, and double columns.
The style was inspired by country farmhouses in Italy, which usually sprawled and disregarded the once-popular rules of reason that were found in neoclassical style homes. Italianate homes, however, did still rely heavily upon formal classical idea and Renaissance planning techniques. This form of architecture was deemed appropriate for suburban country homes, pairing well with romantic, rolling countryside. Victorians sought “the picturesque” in their homes, and would have preferred the vistas an Italianate home would create in the country.
It is no wonder that Edward Young and George Whipple chose this style for Fendall Hall. What now seems to be a central area of Eufaula, this location would have at one point been considered away from town. The Youngs planned their move based on the desire to move farther away from town. They also kept in mind the climate. The South is humid and hot (big surprise, right?), so Mr. Young and his builder chose the Italianate style for its features that lend themselves for keeping a house cool. For one, the house is lifted off the ground so much so that one could almost walk beneath the house completely upright. This height allows for more airflow, which keeps the house cooler.
Other features that improved circulation or helped keep Fendall Hall cool before air conditioning include the wide, over hanging eaves and deep porch, which would have kept the windows shaded; the tall windows, which would have been kept open to allow the cool air from the shaded porch to flow through the house; and the cupola, which would have allowed hot air to rise through the vent in the second floor and out the top of the house, creating a breeze.
I am Lindsey Bennett a native of Eufaula, AL and graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BA in Psychology. I recently moved back home after being in Tuscaloosa for a year working at the University of Alabama with children on the Autism Spectrum. By some twist of fate, the site director position for Fendall Hall fell in my lap, and I jumped at the chance to work at this beautiful home.