The Wollenmann House Project
About the House
Situated in the heart of Ferdinand, Indiana, the Dr. Alois Wollenmann home stands as one of historic Dubois County’s most recognizable residential landmarks. The house received the highest rating (“outstanding”) in the Dubois County Historic Sites and Structures Inventory, and has been rated as “the sixth most important landmark building” in Dubois County. Occupied by three generations of the Wollenmann family, this marks the first time the house has been offered for sale since its construction in 1903. The owners prefer to sell to a buyer who will preserve the home which has been in their family for over 100 years. With no protective preservation ordinance, however, the home is endangered. This is a rare opportunity to own and preserve a unique piece of Dubois County history.
A Unique Piece of Architecture
The Wollenmann house retains many of its distinctive architectural features on both the exterior and the interior. The house’s broad gable front design exhibits wide overhanging eaves supported by triangular knee-braces — classic features characteristic of the Craftsman style of architecture that was common during the period. Further Craftsman influences are found in the unusual tapered porch posts that rest on square paneled bases and in the exposed rafter ends and post bracketing that embellish the porch design.
Decorative scalloped shingles sheath the house’s exterior. A wide beaded board belt course relieves the monotony of the shingles between the first and second stories. Gabled dormer windows punctuate the eave line on the side elevations, providing visual interest to the roof line. Wooden casement windows of ingenious design are found at each opening. The house’s front elevation is further embellished with two projecting balconies at the second and third floor levels that give the house its distinctive “Swiss Chalet” character, reflecting Dr. Wollenmann’s interest in the architecture of his homeland. A 1946 one-story addition is found at the rear of the property and is covered in aluminum siding.
The interior of the Wollenmann house offers 2,426 square feet of living space on two floors. In addition, the house has an unfinished attic and a utility basement. The first floor contains a living room, dining room, bedroom, family room, full bath, and eat-in kitchen. A small room off the dining room originally served as the house’s kitchen and could be used as a utility room, sewing room, or storage room. The front entry has an oversized hexagonal tile floor with a “Greek Key” design border. An enclosed central stair leads to the second floor. The walls in the entry hall and up the stairs are sheathed entirely in beaded board wood siding. The living room features natural pine woodwork with a beamed and beaded board ceiling and a picture rail molding situated approximately two feet below the ceiling. Woodwork exhibits a design typical of the Victorian period with “bull’s eye” corner blocks. The focal point of the room is an unusual corner tiered fireplace of pressed red brick with terra cotta embellishments. What appears to be an original brass light fixture with its opaque glass bowl and three lights hangs from the ceiling. Raised panel pocket doors lead from the living room to the dining room. An unusual feature of this room is that its walls and ceiling are devoid of plaster and are covered entirely in wood beaded board. This is a feature found more commonly in houses in the southern United States. The first-floor bedroom also exhibits natural pine woodwork, picture rail, and beamed ceiling.
The second floor contains three bedrooms and a full bath. Wall and ceiling treatments throughout the second floor are finished in beaded board. Pine tongue-and-groove flooring is found throughout the original house. The kitchen and family room are housed in the 1946 addition. There is a partial basement with interior and exterior access.
Condition of the Home
The home is structurally sound and its historic integrity is intact; windows, doors, wood trim, fireplace, exterior details, balcony, etc. all are original and have been well preserved. While the home is currently livable, it needs exterior replacement and/or restoration of the decorative, wooden scalloped shingles and trim; new wiring; and heating/air-conditioning/utility upgrades. Given the extensive size of the property, there are numerous options pertaining to creative landscaping, flower beds, appropriate additions, parking, etc.