The Paxton Town Hall was the centerpiece of
an agrarian society that was unlike the
affluent society that frequented Princeton.
As such, the porch roof of the building is
reminiscent of one which would be found on a
shed. However, the rails and roof supports
mimic the design of the gable truss.
“Victorian” is not an architectural style but a period in
history dating from about 1840 to 1900. Pattern books
were published and widely circulated that permitted
the most popular Victorian styles to be easily accessed
by builders throughout the country. These builders
often took basic characteristics from any of the
various styles and put them together to create mixes
unique to the building.
The dominant style used for the Paxton Town Hall is
the Stick-style which has the exterior wall surface as
the most important feature. There was little three-
dimensional ornamentation, but instead a reliance on
patterns and lines. Several basic features make for
- Rectangular shape
- Overhanging eaves
- Wood siding
- Ornamental gable trusses (braces)
- Decorative brackets
|What is Meant by Victorian Stick-style?
The architects of the Town Hall created a municipal building that was
austere to fit the low-income agrarian society. But there was also the
desire to add features that would make it compatible with the style of
the age. Patterns were created with the use of shaped wood shingles,
and straight horizontal lines were placed separating the shingled
elements. A gable truss was included on the front of the building and
decorative brackets were placed above each window. The surfaces
were painted with various tones for emphasis and a stained glass
window was installed at the gable behind the truss.
As fashion changed, details on these late-Victorian buildings were
frequently destroyed with time because the decorations were flat.
This was the case for the Town Hall. It was labor-intensive to paint
the trusses and decorative brackets. They were removed because they
were not structurally required. It was easy and inexpensive to cover
the rest with either vinyl siding or monochrome paint. Furthermore,
the popular conception developed that buildings perceived to be
“colonial” should be white with black shutters. With removal of the
trusses and brackets, the net result was a plain and undistinguished
building that has lost its historical significance.
One Victorian era publisher of building plan books was the Palliser
Company. Stick architecture was described as plain yet neat, modern,
and comfortable. However, the austere style could not compete with
the fancy Queen Anne style that superceeded it. Consequently, the
application of Stick-style architecture was short-lived. And with
careless cost-cutting maintenance, an architectural art form was
obliterated and lost to history. It is the goal of the Renovation
Committee to create an efficient and modern municipal building that will
serve the residents of Paxton for many years, while restoring an
architecturally significant structure that will provide the continuity of
history for future generations.
Few authentic Stick-style buildings remain intact. For those interested,
excellent examples of Stick-style Victorian domestic architecture
within an easy drive of Paxton can be found in the 1886 Allen House in
Amherst, MA. and the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT.