The ornamental cottage owes its origins to the European cottage orné, which arose as a result of the picturesque movement of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Architect John Nash (1752–1835), who designed London’s Regency Street and Trafalgar Square, designed smallish houses built in an artificial rustic manner. Architect Andrew J. Downing described such cottages as “sources of beauty and picturesque,” giving “an air of rustic modesty . . . expressive of honest, lovely, unaffected country character.”
These cottages evolved during the Edwardian, Italianate, Gothic Revival, and Eastlake periods, acquiring elements of each style in the various locations where they were erected. These elements include rustic-work post and bracket, rustic wood cresting, bargeboard, flat-board and turned-wood balustrades, turned colonnettes, chamfered posts, shallow pitched roofs with gable overhangs, cross-gable roofs, piercework, and openwork friezes.
It is not surprising that such a picturesque house found its way to bucolic but flamboyant Ocean Springs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The town boasts six historical districts with houses representing numerous architectural styles. Two examples of ornamental cottages are the Honor-Attaya House (built by John B. Honor in 1917) and the Geiger-Friar House (constructed in 1898 by German immigrant Peter Geiger). A raised-basement structure, the Honor-Attaya House was smashed off its piers by Hurricane Katrina but has been restored and raised to flood level. The two-bay porch has a wood rail, turned-wood posts with jigsaw brackets, and an ornamented frieze.
The Geiger-Friar House has a cross-gable roof with overhang and ornamented panelwork. The three-bay porch features an openwork frieze, a balustrade rail, and posts similar to those of the Honor-Attaya House. Ocean Springs preservationists have kept this building in excellent shape.
- Lynn Lofton, Mississippi Business Journal (15 December 2008)
- Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory Database website, http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/search.aspx