Last week, I went on a quick girls’ trip with a friend to the Vrooman Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Bloomington, Illinois. After a delicious breakfast, I had some free time on my hands, so I grabbed my camera and headed out into the neighborhood. I wanted to grab some shots of all the lovely old houses.

It was nice to have some quiet time and just walk the neighborhood by myself. Unlike some of the tours we’ve done (Chicago Art Deco Architecture and Robie House), I could set the pace and go where I wanted. And, unlike the Old House Society’s Annual House Tour, I was the only one there. I didn’t have to worry about getting a shot without people in it.

Here are some of the historic homes from both the area around the Vrooman Mansion and the Franklin Park neighborhood.

Old Houses on Franklin Park

The first group of houses is located around Bloomington’s Franklin Park, which has so many beautiful old homes. Like the Richardsonian Romanesque home, these houses were not on the Old House Society 2018 House Tour, but Kim and I enjoyed ogling them from the street.

I believe the first two houses are currently divided into apartments. Luckily though, it looks like the owners have kept the exteriors pretty true to the original homes.


Photo of dark green Victorian home with red and cream details, from a collection of old houses.

This house had us “oohing” and “ahhing” like we were watching fireworks. It sits on a corner lot, so it has multiple porches and entrances. I just loved the exterior trim work.

Photo of light blue Victorian home with large front porch in a neighborhood of old houses.

This house made the list because it has many of my favorite old house elements: a three story turret, rounded porch elements, and the various complementary siding materials. I really like the decorative elements on the top gable and the porch stair pediment.

Photo of a large white Victorian home, in a neighborhood of old houses.

This house caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, it has a turret and a huge wraparound porch. Need I say more? The double square windows on the upper floor of the turret are an interesting variation.

Finally, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a white house with bright red trim like this before. At least not around here. It seems so Scandinavian/Danish/Northern Europe, and not what we’re used to, so I really liked it.

Old Houses in the Dimmitt’s Grove Neighborhood

The second group of houses are all located in the Dimmitt’s Grove neighborhood of Bloomington. There are so many gorgeous old homes in this neighborhood, and it was hard to narrow down the list.

Photo of peach colored farmhouse with large front porch.

I chose this home because it’s the quintessential farmhouse. This house has such pleasing proportions and a simple facade that make it perfect.

Photo of and old house with dark green exterior and large porches.

When we’re out and about doing nerdy architecture stuff, Kim and I will often decide that we should be “Forensic Architects”. In this fantasy world, we travel the world solving architectural mysteries as to how a building came to look the way it does. (Yeah, we really are that nerdy. But, it’s not like we have costumes or anything. Well, not yet, anyway.) This house definitely got my little FA feelers twitching.

The details and proportions of the main house, along with the construction dates of the other homes in the neighborhood, makes me think the house was built in the 1850-1880 period. BUT, those porches were throwing me off. They felt more like something from the Craftsman era, say around 1910. And, I feel like there is brick under all that green. Hmmmm.

Forensic sleuthing aside, I thought this house was interesting. The eave and soffit details, corbels, and window trim are really lovely.

Photo of old house with light green exterior, and dark green shutters.

This is another home that is just so simple and pleasing. From the massing, to the color scheme, to the proportions and symmetry of the front elevation. Bonus points for the bay window and round attic windows.

Photo of Victorian home with large front porch, turret, and witch's hat roof.

This is the Mandel House, and back in 2004 it was moved to its current site. Moved. Can you imagine moving a house that big?? (Scroll to the bottom of this page for some images of the house during the move and the renovation story.) I really like the round porch entrance. It reminds me of a moon gate.

Photo of Victorian home with blue exterior, painted gingerbread and large front porch in a neighborhood filled with old houses.

What a blue beauty! Those porch columns are perfect. I’m a sucker for a second story porch. And nicely painted gingerbread details. Plus, it has a turret with a witch’s hat roof.

Photo of large Victorian home with round front porch, blue and green color scheme, in a neighborhood of old houses.

Oddly, the first thing I noticed about this house was the columns. I was so focused on the interesting shape of them, that I really didn’t see the rest of the house. Then it all came into focus.

WOOF! Talk about quintessential. You can’t get much more Victorian than this. Plus, it is gigantic! We definitely don’t build them like this anymore. Love the color palette!

Photo of Victorian home with yellow, green, and dark red color scheme.

I may have squeaked when I saw this home. It definitely checks all my boxes. Wraparound porch, painted gingerbread, second story porch, eyebrow dormer, and a great color scheme. Yep. Pretty, pretty, pretty.

Photo of large brick mansion in a neighborhood of old houses.

Finally, this is the Vrooman Mansion, and it’s a bonus add to the list. It will have its own posts in the next few weeks, so come back and check out all the details inside and out.

If you love old houses, be sure to check out Virginia & Lee McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses to help identify styles. And, if the painted ladies style houses are your thing, check out Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen’s Painted Ladies, America’s Painted Ladies, and Painted Ladies Revisited.

We’d love to hear from you – did you have a favorite in this group? What architectural elements are your favorite? Leave us a comment!

Don’t forget to pin this:

Photo collage of old houses.

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