Architecture | Aurora, Indiana

Aurora is a historic river town that is situated 35 miles west of Cincinnati, Ohio, located in the Southeast corner of Indiana. Aurora was settled in the early 1800's and incorporated in 1845 and has strong historic connections to the Ohio River. Aurora is full of unique and historic buildings that preserve its older rivercity characteristics.

Architecture

Settled as early as 1796, Aurora was platted in 1819 by local statesman and attorney Jesse Holman. By the early 19th century, the growing town was a successful port and home to regionally important industry. Positioned at one of the deepest points on this portion of the Ohio River, Aurora was conveniently located between Cincinnati and Louisville. Industrialists favored the area for its abundance of available property, ease in shipping materials, transportation on the river, and the financial incentives which the growing town offered to incoming businesses.

By 1859 the town was served by the railroad. With Aurora situated between the river on the east and the railroad on the west, the two transit modes continued to support the town’s economic boom during the 19th century.

Aurora’s intact historic district recalls a nostalgic time of commerce and river life. The range of settlement and sporadic change is evident in its variety of architectural styles, and the following shows examples of the rich variety:

Federal (1810-1845)

Identified by flat, undecorated wall surfaces of local materials, usually brick or wood weatherboard. Low-pitched gable roof, end chimneys, and large multi-paned windows. Fanlight and narrow sidelights at entrance.


Greek Revival (1840-1860)

Inspired by classical Greek temple forms, with a heavy cornice and Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian columns and pilasters. Customarily of smooth-faced stone, brick, or wood. Sidelights and transom at entrance.


Gothic Revival (1850-1870)

Emphasis on verticality, typified by steeply pitched roof, pointed arches, and vertical board-and-batten siding. Straight-headed and hooded openings. Bargeboard trim at gable. Later examples distinguished by enriched wall surfaces created through the use of materials of contrasting color and texture.


Italianate (1855-1890)

Predominant style in Indiana during the late nineteenth century, loosely derived from Italian villas. Vertical composition. Tall, narrow, slightly arched windows with segmental or round arched hoods. Low-pitched, hipped roof supported by decorative brackets.


Second Empire (1860-1885)

Americanization of 19th century French Renaissance Revival style. Typified by mansard roof, usually of slate, with elaborate brackets and projecting dormers. Polychromatic ornamentation. Often features central pavilion or tower.


Romanesque Revival (1880-1900)

Aurora takes its name from the Latin word for dawn. Here, built into the original architectural design of the historic City Building, is an artistic rendering of the first light of dawn – the aurora.

Adapted from European Medieval architecture. Characterized by the large, half-round arches with trim of contrasting color or texture. Windows of varied size and shape. Steeply pitched roof. Towers and turrets common. Most often used for large public buildings.


Queen Anne (1885-1905)

Combines medieval and classical elements to create the most exuberant of 19th century styles. Asymmetrical composition with towers, turrets, tall chimneys, bay windows, projecting pavilions, spindled porches and balconies, stained glass windows. Contrasting materials on wall surfaces.


Carpenter Builder (1870-1910)

Simplified house form with “T”, “L”, or rectangular plan embellished with details derived from late 19th century styles, usually Queen Anne or Italianate. Most detailing is manufactured wood elements applied at cornice and on porch, such as gingerbread trim in gable, spindled friezes, and turned porch posts.


Neoclassical (1895-1930)

Style popularized in U.S. after 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Cold and symmetrical form and lavish in detail, sometimes embellished with sculpture. Elaborate Greco-Roman classical details such as heavy moulding, pediments, and balustrades applied to the façade. Favored as a style for banks, libraries, and courthouses.


Colonial Revival (1890-1940)

A revival of 18th century colonial architecture and one of many revival styles popular in the early 20th century. Symmetrical massing. Commonly used details include Palladian windows, quoins, garlands, heavy dentils, pedimented dormers, classical columns or pilasters, multipaned windows with shutters, and entrance with fanlights and sidelights.


Dutch Colonial (1890-1930)

Characterized by steeply pitched gambrel roof with overhanging eaves and six over six double-hung windows.


Arts and Crafts (1900-1930)

Popular with middle-class and wealthy families in the early 20th century. Low, end-gabled roofs with projecting eaves and exposed rafters. Little ornamentation.


American Four-Square (1900-1930)

Square or rectangular house plan with two full stories, imparting box-like appearance. Large attic under hipped roof, usually with dormers and wide, projecting eaves. Balanced and plain façade of brick, clapboard, or stucco. Windows often arranged in pairs, with multipaned upper sashes. One-story porch usually spans the front elevation.


Art Moderne (1925-1940)

Applies streamlines and aerodynamic compositions used by industrial designers to convey newness and speed. Characterized by horizontal bands, portal windows, glass block, flat roofs, and corner casement windows.