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Wright Butler House
Photograph by Kathleen McKenney, courtesy of the City of Cumberland

Butler House, 1977
NPS Photograph by Ronald L. Andrews

The residence at 205 Columbia Street is the Queen Anne home of Wright Butler, a prominent local architect whose building designs still dominate the Cumberland skyline. The son of a furniture manufacturer, Butler studied architecture at the Maryland Institute of Baltimore for three years beginning in 1888. At the Institute, Butler familiarized himself with fashionable architectural styles of the time like Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne. Upon his return to Cumberland in 1891, the young architect opened an office, working mainly on residential designs. In 1893, Butler received his first large commission, the Allegany County Courthouse. Other impressive Butler designs include the Masonic Temple, the Liberty Bank Building, and the George Troug House.

Constructed around 1896, the Wright Butler House is a unique example of Queen Anne architecture. Developed in England, the Queen Anne style first appeared in Rhode Island in 1874. American architectural magazines and pattern books quickly popularized the style. Dominating new residential construction throughout the United States in the 1880s, the Queen Anne style benefitted from America's growing railroad system and eastern factories that could cheaply churn out mass-produced architectural elements like wooden spindles, brackets, and shingles. In England, architects used a combination of masonry and timber work, but most American Queen Anne homes are all-wood construction. Wright Butler's Queen Anne design therefore stands as an unusual masonry example of the style. Using the classic "asymmetrical" feel of most Queen Anne designs, the street view is dominated by a three bay window arrangement that juts out from the rest of the building. The three bay window, repeated on the second and third stories, creates the appearance of a "tower," an oft repeated stylistic element in many Queen Anne buildings. The front porch is decorated with elaborate wooden spindle work.

The Wright Butler House is located at 205 Columbia St. It is a private residence and not open to the public.

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