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American House Styles Wharton County Junior College

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1 American House Styles Wharton County Junior College
Adapted and EditeD By Jon K. Loessin, Ph. D.

2 American house styles come in many shapes, some with architectural details borrowed from classical profiles, some unique to the New World. The story of these styles' evolution parallels the timeline of American history—a colony dependent on the Mother Country turns into an industrial nation with a unique design language.

3 Log Cabin Dates: up to 1850s. Features: Log walls; one- to three-room layout, sometimes with a center passage (called a dogtrot). The earliest settler houses went up quickly, using the most abundant material around—wood—to protect against the harsh weather. Log cabins were common in the middle Atlantic colonies, like this Appalachian house.

4 Saltbox Dates: 1607 to early 1700s Features: Steeply-pitched (catslide) roof that reaches to first story in the back; massive central chimney; small windows of diamond paned casements or double-hung sash with nine or 12 lights. Most saltboxes existed in and around New England. Their steep roof pitch is a holdover from the days of thatching, but early settlers learned that wood shingles were better at sloughing off snow and rain. Few original saltboxes survive, and many are museums, like this house in East Hampton, New York.

5 Georgian Dates: 1700 to 1780 Features: Symmetrical facade; double-hung windows with nine or 12 lights in each sash; paneled door with pilasters, transom lights, and sometimes a pedimented crown; brick in the South, clapboards in the North; dentil molding at the cornice. American Georgian architecture is based on earlier European styles (not the British Georgian style of the same period), which emphasized classical Greek and Roman shapes. Georgian houses could be found in every part of the colonies in the 18th century.

6 Federal Dates: 1780 to 1820 Features: Symmetrical facade; 6-over-6 double-hung windows with shutters; paneled door with elaborate surround (pediment, pilasters, sidelights, and fanlight); dentil molding or other decoration at cornice. Based almost entirely on the English Adamesque style, the American Federal (or Adam) style took its cues from ancient Roman architecture. This was the first style of the newly formed United States, and it had a place in nearly every part of the country—particularly in bustling urban areas like Salem, Massachusetts

7 Greek Revival Dates: 1825 to 1860 Features: Pedimented gable ends, portico or full-width porch with classical columns, 6-over-6 windows with pediments. Americans, newly enamored with Greek democracy, built civic buildings that looked like Greek temples. The fashion for columns and pediments seeped into residential architecture as far as the most rural farmland, popularized through pattern books by Asher Benjamin and Minard Lafever.

8 Greek Revival Overview
The final years of the 18th century brought an increasing interest in classical buildings to both the United States and Europe. This was first based on Roman models (Federal style), but archaeological investigation in the early 19th century emphasized Greece as the Mother of Rome which, in turn, shifted interest to Grecian models. The style is an adaptation of the classic Greek temple front employing details of Doric, Ionic or Corinthian order To the popular mind the Greek temple was associated with the origins of American democracy in ancient Greece. The popularity of Greek Revival led it to be called the National Style. Newly established towns throughout the country even took names such as Athens, Sparta, and Ithaca.

9 Identifying features of Greek Revival:
Most have Porticos (either entry or full-width) supported by prominent square or rounded columns, typically of Doric style, but also Ionic and Corinthian Gabled or hipped roof of low pitch Cornice line of main roof and porch roofs emphasized with wide band of trim Enormous windows and doors Window sashes most commonly with six-pane glazing Small frieze-band windows, set into the wide trim beneath the cornice (attic), are frequent. These are often covered with an iron or wooden grate fashioned into a decorative Greek pattern.

10 A Nice Example of a Greek Revival House

11 Another Nice Example of a Greek Revival House

12 Gothic Revival Dates: 1840 to 1880 Features: Steeply pitched roof with decorated bargeboard and cross gables, arched gothic windows and doors with arched panels, first-floor porch. The Gothic Revival is another trend that started in England and made its way to the U.S. The style mimics the shapes found on Medieval churches and houses, and is almost always found in rural areas.

13 Italianate Dates: 1840 to 1885 Features: Hip roof with deep, bracketed eaves; arched 1-over-1 or 2-over-2 windows with elaborate crowns; paired-door entryway with glass in the doors. Again modeled after a fashion started in England, the Italianate style rejected the rigid rules of classical architecture and instead looked to the more informal look of Italian rural houses. Ironically, the style became very popular as an urban townhouse.

14 A Great Italianate House:
The Eutermarks-Harrar House in Williamsburg, PA

15 Second Empire Dates: 1855 to 1885 Features: Mansard roof (hipped with two pitches) with dormers set into it and patterned shingles, deep eaves with decorative brackets, 2-over-2 or 1-over-1 windows with elaborate hoods or pediments. The style is closely related to Italianate, but is always characterized by its mansard roof, named for the 17th-century French architect, François Mansart. The style name refers to France's second empire—the reign of Napoleon III from —during which the mansard roof was in vogue.

16 Queen Anne Dates: 1880 to 1910 Features: Asymmetrical house shape with intersecting roof lines, turrets and bay windows; first floor porch; patterned shingles and decorative trim. The Queen Anne style—what most people would call "Victorian"—is the first product of the American Industrial Age. After the Civil War, munitions factories converted to make metal house parts and the machinery to cut mass-produced wood trim. The railroads brought these products to all regions at an affordable price. And the advent of forced air heating removed the need for rooms structured around stoves and fireplaces, meaning new shapes abounded. Advances in paint technology introduced vibrant new colors.

17 Shingle Dates: 1880 to 1900 Features: Exterior walls and roofs of wood shingles; asymmetrical house shape, often organic to the landscape around it; large porches; intersecting roofs of different shapes, including gambrel. A style mostly popular along the coast in the Northeast, Shingle houses were usually large architects' masterpieces, free-form mansions built into the rocks and hills of the shore.

18 Richardsonian Romanesque
Dates: 1880 to 1900 Features: Masonry exterior (stone or brick), asymmetrical house shape with Roman or Syrian arches and towers, arched windows. Closely related to the Queen Anne and Shingle styles, Romanesque houses are always stone or brick. Though civic buildings were built earlier in the Romanesque Revival style, the form didn't show up on residences until the popular architect Henry Hobson Richardson started his practice in New York and Boston in the 1870s.

19 Folk Victorian Dates: ca to 1910 Features: Simple house forms decorated with elaborate spindlework, jigsaw-cut bargeboards, and other decorative trim. As the industrial age made machine-cut wood details affordable and available to the average American, homeowners added mass-produced decorative trim (called gingerbread) to their small, simple folk cottages to dress them up in the style of the day.

20 For more Victorian Styles, see:

21 Shotgun Dates: ca to 1910 Features: A shotgun house is a nickname for a long narrow house with sequential rooms and no hallway. The nickname comes from the idea that if you stood at the front door and fired a shotgun the buck would fly out the back door without hitting the house. These houses were commonly built in cities before cars made suburbia popular. They also took advantage of lower property taxes because many cities based the tax rate on the lot width so when your house is only 12 feet wide money is saved. Another advantage was that as families grew more rooms could be easily added. These tiny houses emerged in the south, specifically New Orleans, but you still see them today all over America from Key West to Chicago to California.

22 Typical plan of a Shotgun House:

23 Colonial Revival Dates: 1880 to 1955 Features: Large entryway and surround, colums or pilasters, symmetrical facade, 6-over-6 windows (often paired), side gable or gambrel roof. The American Centennial celebrations of 1876 brought about a nostalgia for the country's past, including its early house styles. But rather than copy those houses directly, architects like McKim, Mead, and White mixed and matched details from several early styles, including Dutch Colonial, Georgian, and Federal. This is one of the country's most enduring styles, as millions of examples survive, and a renewal of interest in it led to a Neo-Colonial Revival on the "McMansions" of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

24 Tudor Revival Dates: 1890 to 1940 Features: Steep-pitch side gable roof with cross gable and half timbering; double-hung or narrow, multi-light casement windows, some with diamond panes; semi-hexagonal bay windows; walls of stucco or stone (later examples). More Medieval than Tudor, the style's details loosely harken back to an early English form. Though the style began in the late 19th century, it was immensely popular in the growing suburbs of the 1920s. A version of Tudor came back into vogue in the late 20th century.

25 Neoclassical Dates: 1895 to 1950 Features: Full-height porch with massive columns, Corinthian or Composite capitals, and large pediment; symmetrical facade. The World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 featured a classical theme, sparking a renewed interest in Greek and Roman architecture. The style is closely related to Colonial Revival, as both look back on a time in American architecture when classical forms dominated.

26 Prairie Dates: 1900 to 1920 Features: Prairie houses were characterized by low, horizontal lines that were meant to blend with the flat landscape around them. Typically, these structures were built around a central chimney, consisted of broad open spaces instead of strictly defined rooms, and deliberately blurred the distinction between interior space and the surrounding terrain. The acclaimed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright developed this design school. Wright did not aspire simply to design a house, but to create a complete environment, and he often dictated the details of the interior. He designed stained glass, fabrics, furniture, carpet and the accessories of the house. Wright's belief that buildings stongly influence the people who inhabit them. He believed that "the architect is a molder of men, whether or not he consciously assumes the responsibility." He believed that form and function were one and the same thing… His masterpiece of the prairie style is the Robie House, built in Chicago in 1909.


28 A Typical Prairie-style house—also by Frank Lloyd Wright
Stockman House (1908) Mason City, IA– Price to build: $5,000

29 For the most extensive collection of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, go to:
More to come on FLW… get ready for Fallingwater… in a bit…

30 Bungalows Dates: 1900 to 1930 Features: Seen everywhere in older neighborhoods. They are small by today's standards, event the largest bungalows are modest compared with today's McMansions. Often unless they have been remodeled they have two or three bedrooms, one bathroom, a nice size living room that flows into the dining room, kitchen, and often a full basement. Many times they have a second floor with additional space. What they lack in size, they more than make up for in charm and character.

31 Craftsman (Arts and Crafts Bungalows)
Dates: 1905 to 1930 Features: Low-pitched gable roof with deep, bracketed overhangs and exposed rafters; porches supported by massive piers and unadorned square posts; windows and doors with long vertical panes. Followers of the Arts and Crafts movement (started in England in the late 19th century), particularly California architects Greene and Greene, spurned machine-made products and emphasized the beauty of hand-crafted natural materials (the grain of oak, for example) over Victorian-era excesses. A more vernacular version of the style, also known as Bungalow or Craftsman Bungalow, was popularized through the patterns of Gustav Stickley's Craftsman magazine. The style also grew out of Frank Lloyd Wright's work in the Prairie style at the turn of the 20th century.

32 For another excellent example of a Craftsman house, go to:

33 Pueblo Revival Dates: 1910 to present Features: Flat roof, adobe or earth-colored stucco walls with rounded edges, projecting wood beams (vigas). Pueblo Revival houses have their roots in adobe houses built by Native Americans and Spanish colonial settlers in the Southwest. The style prevails in that part of the country, particularly in Arizona and New Mexico where originals survive.

34 Spanish Colonial Revival
Dates: 1915 to 1940 Features: Low-pitched red-tile roof, arched windows and doors, shaped parapet, asymmetrical facade, stucco exterior. The Panama-California Exposition in San Diego in 1915 featued the California pavilion, a building with details borrowed from Spanish, Mission, and Italian architecture. The style was to the Southwest and Florida what the Colonial Revival and Tudor were to the Northeast and Midwest: an incredibly popular style that filled out the suburbs in the years after World War I.

35 French Revival Dates: 1915 to 1945 Features: Steeply-pitched hip roof (without front-facing gable); flared eaves; exterior brick, stucco, or stone. American soldiers serving in France during World War I would have seen many houses with these characteristics in the French countryside. Like the Tudor Revival, which it resembles, the style was most popular in the growing suburbs of the 1920s.

36 Mediterranean Dates: 1915 to 1950 (but still popular to the present day) Features: Exterior walls are usually stucco or brick, often painted white or cream to contrast the roof of the home. The roof itself is generally covered with terra cotta or brightly colored roof tiles and normally have a low-pitched gable or hipped roof. Another distinguishing characteristic is the extension of the side or front wall to form a courtyard entrance or porch. Windows are sometimes casements, framed by wooden or wrought iron grills or second story balconies.

37 A nice example of a Spanish Mediterranean style house:

38 Cape Cod Dates: 1920s to 1940s Features: One story cottage with loft attic space, symmetical window placement on either side of paneled front door, simple door surround, dormers. The Cape Cod cottage is a subset of the Colonial Revival style, most popular from the 1920s to the 1940s. It's modeled after the simple houses of colonial New England, though early examples were almost always shingled, while 20th century Capes can be clapboard, stucco, or brick. Many houses of the post World War II building boom were Capes, including many of the 17,400 cottages in Levittown, New York, the country's first housing development.

39 For more images of Cape Cod Houses see:

40 Modernistic/Art Deco Dates: 1920 to 1940 Features: Flat roof, smooth stucco exterior with curved walls, horizontal lines either as grooves or balustrades, zigzag or geometric Art Deco details, plate-glass or glass-block windows. Earlier Modernistic houses of the 1920s were in the Art Deco style, while later examples were in the more streamlined Art Moderne style. Both were adaptations of the popular forms used on commercial buildings of the time (like New York City's Chrysler Building).

41 International (e.g. Bauhaus)
Dates: 1925 to present Features: Flat roofs, clean lines, no decoration, cantilevered rooms, asymmetrical façade, glass/glass block, metal incorporated into style, and function over form. No corner moldings, minimal baseboards, extensive use of metal and glass (even in furnishings), clean lines and style. The style took its name from a 1932 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art that showed the groundbreaking work of European Bauhaus architects like Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Before World War II, it was most popular in California and affluent Northeast suburbs.

42 Bauhaus Architecture

43 Bauhaus, Contd.

44 Bauhaus, Contd.

45 Bauhaus, Contd.

46 Bauhaus, Contd.

47 Ranch (American Ranch, California Ranch)
Dates: 1930s to 1960s (but still built everywhere in the United States at present) Features: Sprawling single story, wide facade, front-facing garage, low-pitched roof, asymmetrical facade. Loosely based on Spanish colonial houses in the Southwest, the Ranch house is a creation of car culture: When homeowners began using their cars for transportation, they could put their houses farther apart on larger plots of land. Along with the split-level of the 1950s and 60s and the builder's shed of 1970s and 1980s, the Ranch was one of the dominant house forms of the second half of the 20th century.

48 More Ranch Designs:

49 A-Frame Dates: 1950 to 1980 Features: An A-frame is an interior style of house with steeply-angled sides (roofline) that usually begin at or near the foundation line, and meet at the top in the shape of the letter A and a ceiling that is open to the top rafters. Although the triangle shape of the A-frame has been present throughout history, it saw a surge in its popularity around the world in the post-World War II era, roughly from the mid-1950s through the 1970s. It was during this time that the A-frame acquired its most defining characteristics.

50 Is this the greatest house ever designed in America?
FALLINGWATER (1934) (Bear Run, PA) by Frank Lloyd Wright

51 Fallingwater Plan

52 Fallingwater is labeled an “Expressionist Internationalist” design
...[Wright] sends out free-floating platforms audaciously over a small waterfall and anchors them in the natural rock. Something of the prairie house is here still; and we might also detect a grudging recognition of the International Style in the interlocking geometry of the planes and the flat, textureless surface of the main shelves. But the house is thoroughly fused with its site and, inside, the rough stone walls and the flagged floors are of an elemental ruggedness." --Spiro Kostof, A History of Architecture Go to the tour of Fallingwater here:


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