[10 on Tuesday] Buying a Historic Home: What’s Your Style? (Part 1)


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If you're looking to buy a historic house, it helps to know what kinds of architectural styles are out there. Naturally, with the United States being as large as it is, there are a lot of styles to cover. If you’re looking for a home built between approximately 1620 and 1890, this slideshow is for you. Tune in next week for part two, which will get through the mid-20th century.

And because architecture, like preservation, comes with a lot of jargon, look for definitions and links throughout the presentation for more information.


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[10 on Tuesday] Buying a Historic Home: What’s Your Style? (Part 1)

  1. Buying a Historic Home:What’s Your Style? (Part 1) Photo courtesy origamidon, Flickr
  2. 1. Spanish ColonialLocated primarily in Florida and the Southwest, Spanish Colonial-style homes are built from adobe or stone covered in stucco andhave low-pitched roofs. Most are only one or two stories; featurelong, covered porches; and are L- or U-shaped. Photo courtesy Ken Lund, Flickr
  3. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Flickr2. SaltboxFeaturing a rectangular layout and rooms arranged around a centralchimney, saltbox houses are most commonly found in New England andthe Northeast. Look for asymmetrical, gabled roofs that join a two-storysection with a single-story, and a front (two-story) façade decorated withpendants and brackets.* Pendant: an elongated decoration hanging below a ceiling, usually in wood or plaster.* Brackets: Small projecting pieces of wood, metal, or stone designed to support aprojecting element.
  4. 3. Dutch ColonialThese houses, native to the Hudson Valley and parts of New Jerseyand Delaware (and dating from 1625-1840), come in a variety ofexteriors -- stone, clapboard, or brick. You can identify them by theirsteeply pitched gambrel or gabled roof and double-hung, multi-panedwindows. On the inside, you’ll generally find the layout is rectangular,with rooms off a central stair hall. Photo courtesy dapawprint, Flickr
  5. Photo courtesy Dancing Tuna, Flickr4. GeorgianIf you live east of the Appalachian Mountains, and are after asymmetrical floor plan, look for a Georgian. Its other key featuresare a gable, gambrel, or hipped roof with a decorative cornice andregularly spaced, double-hung windows.* Cornice: Projecting portion at the top of a building façade.
  6. 5. Late GeorgianIf a regular Georgian isn’t fancy enough, look fora Late Georgian, where the detailing takes overand elaborate cornices -- along with Palladian,semi-circular, and elliptical windows -- join theparty.Tip: Drayton Hall, a National Trust Historic Site,is Georgian-Palladian in design and has manyof the elements you should look for in this style.Photo courtesy Carol Highsmith
  7. 6. FederalSix-over-six windows (double-hung,with six panes each) are one of thedefining elements of this common styleof urban row house along the eastcoast from Maine to Georgia from1780-1830. Brick or clapboardexteriors with a low-pitched gable,hipped, or flat roof accented with abalustrade or cornice are other detailsto look for in the Federal style.* Balustrade: A series of short pillarssupporting a rail. Photo courtesy Josh Barker
  8. 7. Greek RevivalIf you’re looking east of the Mississippi or in parts of Louisiana, Texas, andCalifornia, keep an eye out for Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian corner pilasters on theoutside and Greek key moldings and interior columns to determine if you have aGreek Revival on your hands.* Pilaster: A shallow rectangular column attached to a wall surface.* Greek key: Geometric ornament of repeated horizontal and vertical lines. Photo courtesy Jay Heritage Center, Flickr
  9. 8. Gothic RevivalArched, oriel, and bay windows, along withdecorative vergeboards, roof finials, and porchdetailing make Gothic Revival houses stand out.You’re most likely to find them in the East, andin other locations settled before 1880.* Vergeboard: The decorative gable end boards usually foundon buildings of the Victorian period. Also known as abargeboard.* Finial: Ornament at the top of a gable, pinnacle, or tower,often of a fleur-de-lis design.Photo courtesy Waterfront Historic Area League
  10. Photo courtesy ellen_g_king, Flickr9. ItalianateAnother style commonly seen in urban row houses (and alsoin 19th century “suburbs”), Italianate design is characterizedby its asymmetrical layout, corner stair towers, and bracketedcornices. Like Gothic Revival, it’s found in communitiesestablished prior to 1880.
  11. 10. Vernacular/National/AmericanFour-SquareFound in small towns and ruralareas nationwide -- and called by avariety of names -- this style,popular from 1850-1890, features arectangular or L-shaped layout,gabled roof, and limited detailing. Photo courtesy KaCey97007, Flickr
  12. Ten on Tuesday features ten preservationtips each week. For more tips, visitblog.PreservationNation.org.