This description of a home located on Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is part of a series on the unique housing found on the installation. Information was provided by a joint effort the History Office of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command and the Welcome Club at Rock Island Arsenal.
The gracious lifestyle of the “Old Army” still lingers at Quarters Six on Terrace Drive. It is one of Rock Island Arsenal’s two residential buildings which distinguishes itself from the earlier officers’ quarters found to the west of Quarters One.
Although not of the same style and material as the earlier Rodman-influenced Italianate style quarters, this turn-of-the-century home was constructed in a style and scale that complements the earlier architecture of Quarters One through Four. The design that the architect selected for Quarters Six appears to be the “best in style,” with elements drawn from various sources.
When Rock Island Arsenal expanded its mission in 1899 by adding small arms production, additional residences were required for the officers assigned to the arsenal to guide manufacturing of the 1903 Springfield rifle. To help meet this housing requirement, Quarters Six was built in 1905 by Colonel Stanhope E. Blunt at a cost of $13,500.
Quarters Six is situated apart from Quarters Four to avoid contrast. The great divide between Quarters Six and its earlier counterparts also serves to diminish any possible sense of discord between the styles of the older and newer houses on Terrace Drive.
Quarters Six is a fanciful, eclectic building with a complex yet attractive skyline of hipped roofs and gables with curving slopes and dark eaves that contrast the light tan walls constructed of Milwaukee brick. Mansard roof covers and hipper dormers on the north and south sides add to the appeal.
The size and uprightness of this structure complement the earlier Italianate Quarters. Significantly, Quarters Six was the first officer’s residence designed with electricity.
A large porch wraps around the north and east sides of the house, catching summer breezes and beautiful river vistas. The porch around the north and east side of the house has Ionic columns complemented by railings and banisters made of wood painted tan. The porch adds variety and softens the strong lines of the structure.
The entrance has double doors crowned with a Palladian window. The leaded glass is beveled in a design of broken circles which is repeated in other parts of the house.
The large main foyer is characteristic of the era, and the hanging light sconces are decorated with oak leaves that are original to the quarters. Unlike the older quarters, Quarters Six was designed with coat closets built into the entrance hall with decorative windows that are right and left of the main double doors, adding to the overall detail and charm of the home.
The foyer has dark oak wainscoting and beamed ceilings. The leaded glass and the paneling make this gracious entrance to this old mansion a thing of great beauty.
The focal point of interest in the entrance hall is the dark oak staircase that rises to a landing at the rear of the structure. The varnished oak staircase is highlighted with open spinners, balustrades with turned spindles, and paneled newels with denticulate caps.
Echoing the design of the fanlike windows at the front of the house, a large window facing south illuminates the landing of the second floor. There is another window on the third floor that is arched, repeating the lines of the fanlike windows. When the sun shines, the walls, ceiling, and floor sparkle with dancing prisms of light.
The living room (front parlor) is a large and very light room because of its eastern exposure and painted white woodwork. One of the large windows in the bay area appears to be three long windows; however, the center window can be raised high enough to create a “door” to the porch.
The fireplace is set at an angle between the two walls and shares a chimney with the fireplace in the library. Faced with tile and framed by a white wooden mantel, it is decorated with Corinthian columns on either side joined with a flowering swag. The lining of the fireplace is metal and was forged on the arsenal. Pocket doors can be closed from the foyer.
Sliding pocket doors also divide the living room from the library (back parlor). This room is lined with oak bookcases made at the arsenal, as was the oak wainscoting. There is a picture molding around the edge of the ceiling. The library fireplace is faced with tile and is framed by a dark oak mantel.
The most beautifully detailed room in this home is the dining room. A huge Palladian window overlooking the Mississippi River dominates the north wall of the dining room. The top panels of the center arch and the side lights are composed of heavy leaded glass, which is beveled and in a half-circle fanlike design. This same design was used in the front door and in the two-story high window behind the stairway. The design and prism effect of the beveling can be fully appreciated in this room.
The wall opposite the window is equally interesting. The fireplace is faced with “Rose and Lemon” tile and surrounded by an oak mantel. The fireplace is centered between built-in oak china cabinets. These cabinets feature leaded glass doors in a “diamond design” with highlights of carved lion’s heads.
The breakfast nook was originally a serving pantry. The modernized kitchen is lined with oak cabinets. Although it appears to be short, the window behind the sink reaches down to the floor behind a false wall.
Originally, there was a chimney in the far west wall of the kitchen which was probably a vent for a wood burning stove. The servant’s stairs open off the rear hall that runs across the back of the house. A small cozy room behind this hall serves as a small study. The powder room under the stairway is original.
The second and third floors of the mansion have large center halls which are wainscoted with dark oak. All the bedrooms open onto these halls. The second floor has four bedrooms, two with fireplaces. There are also two full baths on this floor. At the west end of the second floor are the servant’s quarters with a full bath. The third floor has three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a recreation room.
Quarters Six contains two pieces of furniture built at the arsenal. The pieces were made primarily from walnut and include a freestanding chest with a white marble top and a long bench.