The Nathan C. Ricker House built in 1892 is a single family, two-story, wood frame house located on West Green Street, the main east-west corridor from the University of Illinois campus to downtown Urbana. The house is located in a neighborhood comprised of late 19th and early 20th century single and multi-family housing. The house was built at a grand scale with an asymmetrical composition. Designed for himself, Nathan C. Ricker designed an exemplary Queen Anne style house, which is apparent by the irregular roof form, the many projecting bays, the exterior wall finishing, the delicate front porch detailing and the windows. The exterior of the house is covered with wood clapboard siding and wood shingles , which is broken up by a complex roof line, protruding bays, and the use of multiple wall surface materials. The corners of the house and the windows are accented by white wood trim. There are decorative shingles in the triangular portions of the gables. The triangular portion of one of the gables is enclosed by a pent roof, or a row of shingles dividing the triangular gable from the rest of the wall. Small portions of wall are covered in unique shingle patterns, some of which are colored with an ombre, or slow variation in color from darker orange to pale orange. There are many different windows types on the Ricker house. The first story windows have large-paned casement windows. Many other windows are tall, thin double-hung windows. Some of the windows are large simple panes of glass outlined by small square stained glass panes. There is a large three-sided bay and a rounded protruding tower on the rear corner of the house. There is a small dormer window on the roof of the house above the bay.
The entrance is on the west side of the house, in a projection facing south. There is a curved herringbone brick walkway leading to the front porch and entrance from Green Street. The wood front porch spans the west façade and contains highly decorative posts railing and frieze. Another similar but smaller porch appears on the north façade located off the dining room. The roof is covered with brown asphalt shingles and the foundation is brick. The interior has spacious rooms arranged around a central hall The rooms feature tall ceilings, and rich woodwork; the more formal rooms have handsome fireplaces. These details, including the complex roof line, intricate wall surface, asymmetrical facades, and decorative porch, are typical Queen Anne characteristics.
Even following a complete renovation by PACA, the Nathan C. Ricker House retains its historical integrity. Outside of minor changes, little has been done to alter its condition. The exterior was sided with white aluminum siding in the 1960s, but it has been since removed, exposing the original clapboard and sawn shingles. Two windows in the attic of the north facing gable section were replaced with modern sashes. Also on the north side, the cellar entrance was covered with a gabled roofed section sometime after the 1950s. In 1997, the front porch was restored and the supporting brick posts were reconstructed. The roof of the house was also restored in 1998.
Nathan Ricker was a pioneer in the area of architectural education, an active and well-respected citizen of Urbana, and the architect of his home. As the first graduate of an architecture progrma in the United States, Nathan Clifford Ricker has had a profound and lasting effect on the practice of architecture on Illinois, as well as the architectural education program at the University of Illinois. He used his European experience to develop an innovative instruction format and incorporated the use of modern materials and technology into both his lesson plans and his building designs. Ricker’s combination of educational and practical knowledge guided him as he established the architectural program at the University of Illinois. His program, which emphasized technology, building design, construction, and historic, is still utilized.
612 W. Green was Ricker’s only residential construction. In addition to serving as his family’s residence, it likely served as his office space as well. In 1995, the house was facing demolition and was to be replaced by an apartment complex. The Preservation and Conservation Association (PACA) purchased the house and set about restoring it. In 2000, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2001, after five years of renovation, PACA sold the house to Professor Adrianna Taylor and her husband Matthew.