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A brief history of American Residential Architecture

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Architecture american

  1. 1. Several years ago I published a news letter focused on residential architecture resulting in many of my readers expressing thanks for both the information and clearing up a lot of misunderstandings. The section about the same subject on JEFFSHAPIROREALTOR.COM still draws a lot of attention and comment. I decided this month to offer this history and look at the most common styles gracing our neighborhoods today. I hope you find it informative and as enjoyable as I have putting this together Jeff
  2. 2. Jeff Shapiro’s Brief Look at the History of American Residential Architecture January, 2014
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION • The exterior of your house is the face of your home and shares its style and personality with the neighborhood and those just driving by. It’s the last thing you see of your home as you head into your day, and the first thing that welcomes you on your return. Its details and materials are just as important; even more so, as the crown molding, bath floor tile or your kitchen's backsplash. Materials such as stone, copper, wood, steel and brick can be used to finish a specific architectural style or create a new one. Your house's exterior paint color may be the most visible design decision you make, especially if showcased with exterior lights. The landscaping in the front and side yards offer both a welcoming transition from street to door and a buffer between your home and the public spaces it shares. Architects design a home’s exterior for beauty, functionality, suitability with the lot, region, local building codes, and are guided by what you want as well as their own design influences and philosophies. It can be completely new and innovative, display a mix of influences or reflect the style of an earlier period. Popular home designs in the U.S. include Victorian, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Tudor, Cape Cod, Mediterranean, Craftsman, Prairie Style, Art Deco, Modern, Mid-Century Modern, Ranch Style and
  4. 4. COLONIAL • The Colonial house is expected to be symmetrical with two windows on either side of a central doorway. Five windows rank across the second floor. This fits into the Palladian influence upon the architects in England whose pattern books were being copied by builders in the colonies. These influences spread to those building houses for farmers in the country as well as prosperous businessmen in the emerging cities. • As the population from New England spread across what is now New York State into Northern Pennsylvania, Ohio, and into Illinois, they brought this style of the Colonial house with them. • These houses below represent the development of the Colonial house The Stanley Whitman House on High Street in Farmington, Connecticut was built in about 1720. This house marks a line between the Medieval style and the Colonial style which was to follow. Note the Medieval fenestration (windows) and the overhang with pendant drops. Note the Colonial use of wood, the central chimney which serves the fireplaces in all rooms, and the symmetry. The lean-to, added across the back 40 years later, gives the house a traditional New England saltbox shape.
  5. 5. COLONIAL This house, built in the 1720s in Milton, Massachusetts, is a typical Colonial style house. Its symmetrical exterior and entryway is influenced by the pattern books from England that were available to local builders. It's floor plan is called four over four: it has four equal sized rooms on the first floor with four rooms above. The central chimney serves fireplaces in all eight rooms. This house does not include the traditional lean-to.
  6. 6. DUTCH COLONIAL • The Dutch influence on American colonial architecture can be found in New York City and surrounding areas in New Jersey, on Long Island and along the Hudson River. The Dutch Colonial Revival is considered a subtype of the Colonial Revival style. It often shares a great many of the same characteristics including symmetry, similar siding, windows, entries, and finishes both inside and out. • Where the Dutch Revival is most obviously different is in its distinctive profile; it's not uncommon to hear it described as a "barn house." • The gambrel roof allowed a complete second story to be built at minimal expense. Another advantage, as seen in the 1798 Federal Direct Tax records, was that gambrel-roofed houses were classified for tax purposes as one-story homes, which allowed them to be taxed at a lower rate than two-story houses. • The Dutch Colonial Revival, without question, is one of the prettiest and most varied house styles built during the 20th century. It was very popular through the 1920s but became rarer during the 1930s. It's unusual to see post-WWII Dutch Colonial Revivals though occasionally you may see a gambrel roof on a post-War rambler.
  7. 7. FRENCH COLONIAL • In the Louisiana territory, houses were built in the French style. Surviving structures can be best seen in New Orleans and in rural Louisiana along the Mississippi River. The plantation houses are timber framed structures featuring tall and steeply pitched hipped roofs characteristic of rural French manor houses. They are adapted to the sub-tropical Louisiana in two ways: the main living area, built of heavy interlocked timbers, was built on a very tall brick foundation to protect the house from the periodical river flooding; and, the houses were usually surrounded by wide porches, or galleries, to provide refreshingly cool yet sheltered outdoor living during the summer months. Characteristic are extensive porches and no halls. They are graced with French doors from every room to the porch.
  8. 8. SPANISH COLONIAL • Florida and the Southwest offered few of the riches to the Spanish Empire as Mexico and Peru and were sparsely settled by missionaries and military men to serve as buffers to French and English expansion. However, by the time settlers arrived in Virginia and Massachusetts in the early 1600s, the Spanish Empire had been thriving for more than a century. Today few buildings from this era survive, except for the mission chapels in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Most colonial houses were modest structures of adobe and stone. The Governors palaces in Santa Fe, New Mexico and San Antonio, Texas, however, offer brief glimpses into the original Spanish colonial architecture
  9. 9. COLONIAL REVIVAL • One of the most classic, understated house styles is the Colonial Revival. Stately and distinguished, rather than cute or cottage like, they are substantial homes that declare that the owners are persons with a solid center and traditional values. • During the 1890s, Colonial Revival was expressed everywhere. One of the major drivers behind its popularity was the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Prominent architects from across the US competed to out-do each other with their designs in what was then called the "White City." During the day, the buildings were white, but at night the magic of the city transcended anything seen before; all the buildings were lit in electric lights. The effect was far reaching as millions traveled to Chicago to see the fair. When they left, they took an appreciation for classical architecture with them. • The reason for the continued popularity of the Colonial Revival is its timeless design. Unless you are extremely knowledgeable of building materials and techniques, it's sometimes difficult to date the Colonial Revival with absolute accuracy. • There was really only a hundred years between the original "Colonial" architecture and the revival styles that attempted to emulate it. Early Colonial Revivals style were sometimes excessive ... sort of Queen Anne attitudes with Greek and Roman details. Neo-Classical, it could be argued, is one expression of the synergy between the two.
  10. 10. COLONIAL The predominate floor plan for all of these houses is a central hall with stairs, the living room, two rooms deep from front to back, with the dining room on the opposite side of the hall and the kitchen behind it. Bedrooms and baths are above. The houses often have porches and garages attached with perhaps a one or two story EL in the back for a family room.
  11. 11. BEAUX ARTS • In French, the term beaux arts means fine arts. Based on ideas taught at the legendary École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Beaux Arts style flourished between 1885 and 1920. • Also known as Beaux Arts Classicism, Academic Classicism, or Classical Revival, Beaux Arts is a late and eclectic form of Neoclassicism. It combines classical architecture from ancient Greece and Rome with Renaissance ideas. Beaux Arts is characterized by order, symmetry, formal design, grandiosity, and elaborate ornamentation. In the United States, the Beaux Arts style led to planned neighborhoods with large, showy houses, wide boulevards, and vast parks. Due to the size and grandiosity of the buildings, the Beaux Arts style is most commonly used for public buildings like museums, railway stations, libraries, banks, courthouses, and government buildings.
  12. 12. FOUR SQUARE • The Foursquare, or Box, is a type rather than a style. It is characterized by its cubic form and simple, economical floor plan. • The antecedents of the American Foursquare differ depending on your source. Its origin may lie in a cross-pollination of the waning Queen Anne style with the nascent emergence of the simplified Free Classic and the resurgent Colonial Revival style that became incredibly popular during the later half of the 1890s as a result of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (also called the Chicago World's Fair). Versions of the Foursquare appeared in publications and plan books before 1900 so popularity being what it is, it wasn't long before savvy builders simplified the shape and detail making it affordable to the middle-class. As a farmhouse, it competed against the wing-and-gable type that was predominant across the US during the late 19th century • It wouldn't have hurt that it was a square house of dependable proportions and solid, honest construction in a country where a square deal was offered by then President Theodore Roosevelt. From it's very beginning, it was perceived as an American type and style.
  13. 13. CAPE COD • The Cape Cod cottage style (and in turn its Colonial Revival descendant of the 1930s–50s) originated with the colonists who came from England to New England. They used the English house with a hall and parlor as a model, adapting this design with local materials to best protect against New England's notoriously stormy weather. Over the next several generations emerged a 1- to 1 1⁄2-story house with wooden shutters and clapboard or shingle exterior. • The Reverend Timothy Dwight IV , president of Yale University from, coined the term "Cape Cod House" after a visit to the Cape in 1800. • The Pilgrims designed houses that provided safety from New England’s extreme winter climate. Temperatures in January and February can drop to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, and multiple-feet snow pile-ups occur frequently. To fight the chill, the Pilgrims built extensive central chimneys and low ceilinged rooms to conserve heat. Most Cape Cod homes faced the south, which allowed sunlight to enter the windows and provide additional heat. The steep roof characteristic of New England homes also prevented excessive amounts of snow from accumulating on the house. Fluctuating Cape Cod temperatures presented the problem of moisture within interior walls, which was addressed by using wainscoting: a design element still prevalent today. Finally, the Pilgrims dealt with stormy winds by installing shutters on the windows. A trademark of Cape Cod home design, the shutter is now an aesthetic element instead of a functional on.
  14. 14. CAPE COD II • Colonial-era Capes were most prevalent in the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada. They were made of wood, and covered in wide clapboard or shingles. Most houses were smaller, usually 1,000–2,000 square feet in size. Originally, they did not have dormer windows. There were generally an odd collection of windows in the gable ends, and in these windows nine and six panes were the most common. The rooms were generally furnished with all hardwood floors. • The style has a symmetrical appearance with front door in the center of the house, and a large central chimney for fireplaces in each room. A cape-style house also commonly had a master bedroom on the first floor and an unfinished loft on the second floor. A typical early house had little or no exterior ornamentation, although many built during the Greek Revival featured an entablature with corner pilasters, pedimented gable ends, and a pilaster-and-lintel entry with sidelights.
  15. 15. CAPE COD III • The houses of early New England settlers seem distantly related to modern Cape Cod–style homes and cottages found throughout the country. While the original half, three-quarter, and full Cape styles are still common, homeowners experimented over the years by doubling the full Cape and adding new wings onto the rear end. Homeowners also added roof dormers for increased space, light, and ventilation. Despite the changes, 1 1⁄2-story Capes are still a popular, affordable style on the housing market.
  16. 16. SPLIT LEVEL • A split-level home (also called a tri-level home) is a style of house in which the floor levels are staggered, so that the "main" level of the house (e.g. the level that usually contains the front entry), is partway between the upper and lower floors. The main level typically contains common living areas (a living room, kitchen, dining room, and/or family room). There are typically two short sets of stairs, one running upward to a bedroom level, and one going downward toward a basement area. The basement level is usually finished off, and often contains additional living areas (most often, a family room, an office and/or a hobby or playroom), as well as frequently laundry facilities and other utilities. The basement level often also features a garage, and is usually level with the driveway. Beneath the main level (downward from the basement level) is usually crawl space, or sometimes additional basement space, which is frequently unfinished. • A sidesplit is where the split level is visible from the front elevation of the home. • A backsplit is where the split level is only visible from the side elevation. The front elevations shows only a single story and the two stories are in the back. A bi-level includes two short sets of stairs and two levels.[1] The entry is between floors. The front door opens to a landing. One short flight of stairs leads up to the top floor; another short flight of stairs leads down. The top floor tends to be full height ceilings with the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms. The lower floor often has lower ceilings and is partially below ground. However, in many modern split foyer homes, the lower level is at grade, which necessitates an outdoor staircase to reach the front door. These homes often also have very high ceilings on the lower level to accommodate the home's HVAC ducting.
  17. 17. SPLIT LEVEL II RAISED RANCH • The raised ranch includes a basement on the bottom and a "full set of stairs" (a full flight of stairs, usually 12 or 13) which leads to the 1st level. A raised ranch has a different look on the front than a split- entry, as the front door lines up differently to the front windows. The front door entry at is predominately at the lower floor. The top floor per FNMA/FHLMC is the living area and the lower floor is the basement, even if finished SUGAR MAPLE SPLIT My understanding is the "sugar maple" enters at grade level typically with a entry foyer, den and in most cases a full or half bath (sometimes with laundry) and access to a garage (could be one or two car). Many times a back door opens to rear yard at grade level from this level as well. From this level there is usually three to four steps down to a partial basement (under the living room/dining room and kitchen areas). From the foyer and up 4 steps you enter the "living" level, usually the formal living room, formal dining room and kitchen. From the kitchen more often then not, you can go back down the 4 steps to the den level. Back in the formal living room and up 4 steps you get to the "sleeping" level. Usually three bedroom (larger home could have four) and typically one full bath in the hallway (might have a second full in master if larger "model"). Many times there is a linen closet in the hallway outside the hall way full bath, once opened there might be a half door (at eye level) in front of you and once opened there is usually storage space over the living room, dining room and kitchen area. Speaking of storage, there is usually a pull-down set of stairs in the second floor hallway accessing "attic" storage over the
  18. 18. GREEK REVIVAL - AMERICAN GOTHIC • The most popular style of architecture prior to the Victorian era was the Greek Revival. This style was used almost exclusively for public buildings where simplicity and dignity were considered the most important attributes. By the 1840s the Greek style was no longer fashionable for a private residence. Its popularity had waned about the time Victoria became Queen. Many early cottages were built as summer residences only, with no insulation, yet the underlying surfaces were of solid construction. Architects and builders often submitted alternate designs for a house where the floor plans were identical, and only the facades varied. But when frame construction came along, houses were built quickly and ornate details were added later. Many early homes had neither kitchens or bathrooms. As is typical of these early homes, additions often house the kitchens and baths. • Most of the early homes, especially those built in England, were built of stone, and enhanced with decorative "stone tracery". The number of full-blown Gothic stone mansions was never large. Only the wealthy could afford such homes which required the labors of highly skilled stone carvers. The costly Gothic style was eventually translated into wood, and thousands of "Carpenter Gothic" houses still stand. • The Character American Carpenter Gothic style is characterized by steep gables and pointed windows. Often the construction was vertical "Board and Batton" which was considered particularly fitting for a Gothic cottage because of its upward tendency. In a wider sense we now apply the term "American Gothic" to all homes of typically Victorian design. These homes mark the real beginning of modern architecture. The homes are planned from the inside out - the layout of the rooms and the traffic pattern determines the outward look. Inside they have a happy hide-and-seek quality of surprise. • When Gothic came to America and was translated to "Carpenter Gothic", the stone tracery was replaced by wooden Gingerbread. The ornate wooden detail is considered a folk art. Each carpenter had his own ideas and employed his own fanciful designs.
  19. 19. The Victorian • The Victorian architectural period mostly spans the period of roughly 1825-1900. The Victorians drew deeply from history, nature, geometry, theory, and personal inspiration to create their designs. Prior to 1890, designers, though properly trained in the academics of standard architectural systems, still managed to employ their own creative ideas. • Early Victorian structures were relatively simple in style, while those built after the Civil War became more complicated. They combined styles as they saw fit. The end result was often a stunning visual effect. The building styles of post-Civil War America were elaborate and flamboyant, very much fueled by new industrial society. Now collectively called "Victorian" the architecture was made up of several main styles. These include Italianate, Second Empire, Stick-Eastlake, and Queen Anne. Generally, Italianate style structures have flat roof lines, corniced eaves, angled bay windows and Corinthian-columned porches. Stick- Eastlake structures often include square bays, flat roof lines and free-style decorations. Queen Annes have a gabled roof, shingled insets, angled bay
  20. 20. VICTORIAN VARIATIONS – ITALIANATE STYLE • The Italianate style was popularized in the United States by Alexander Jackson Davis in the 1840s as an alternative to Gothic or Greek Revival styles. Davis' design for Blandwood, the former residence of North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead, is the oldest surviving example of Italianate architecture in the United States, constructed 1844. An early example of Italianate architecture, it is closer in ethos to the Italianate works of Nash than the more Renaissance inspired designs of Barry. Davis' 1854 Litchfield Villa in what has become Prospect Park, Brooklyn is a splendid example of the style. It was initially referred to as the "Italian Villa" or "Tuscan Villa" style. Richard Upjohn used the style extensively, beginning in 1845 with the Edward King House. Other leading practitioners of the style were John Notman, by many the first to bring the style to the United States and Henry Austin. Notman designed "Riverside," the first "Italian Villa" style house in Burlington, New Jersey in 1837 (now destroyed). • Italianate was reinterpreted again and became an indigenous style. It is distinctive by its pronounced exaggeration of many Italian Renaissance characteristics: emphatic eaves supported by corbels, low-pitched roofs barely discernible from the ground, or even flat roofs with a wide projection. A tower is often incorporated hinting at the Italian belvedere or even campanile tower. Motifs drawn from the Italianate style were incorporated into the commercial builders' vocabulary, and appear in Victorian architecture dating from the mid-to-late 19th century. • This architectural style became more popular than Greek Revival by the late 1860s. Its popularity was due to its being suitable for many different building materials and budgets, as well as the development of cast-iron and press-metal technology making the production of decorative elements like the brackets and cornices more efficient. However, the style was superseded in
  21. 21. VICTORIAN VARIATIONS – QUEEN ANNE • Queen Anne Style buildings in America came into vogue in the 1880s, replacing the French-derived Second Empire as the "style of the moment." The popularity of high Queen Anne Style waned in the early 1900s, but some elements, such as the wraparound front porch, continued to be found on buildings into the 1920s. • The "Queen Anne" style that had been formulated in Britain by Norman Shaw and other architects arrived in New York with the new housing for the New York House and School of Industry at 120 West 16th Street. Gabled and domestically scaled, it is of warm, soft brick enclosing some square terracotta panels, with an arched side passage leading to an inner court and back house; its detailing is largely confined to the treatment of its picturesquely disposed windows, with small-paned upper sashes and plate glass lower ones. There are triple windows of Serlian motif and a two-story oriel that projects asymmetrically.
  22. 22. TUDOR • The name Tudor suggests that these houses were built in the 1500s, during the Tudor Dynasty in England. But of course, Tudor houses in the United States are modern-day re-inventions and are more accurately called Tudor Revival or Medieval Revival. Some Tudor Revival houses mimic humble Medieval cottages - They may even include a false thatched roof. Other Tudor Revival homes suggest Medieval palaces. They may have overlapping gables, parapets, and beautifully patterned brick or stonework. These historic details combine with Victorian or Craftsman flourishes. • As in many Queen Anne and Stick style homes, Tudor style houses often feature striking decorative timbers. These timbers hint at - but do not reproduce - Medieval construction techniques. In Medieval houses, the timber framing was integral with the structure. Tudor Revival houses, however, merely suggest the structural framework with false half-timbering. This decorative woodwork comes in many different designs, with stucco or patterned brick between the timbers. • In the United States, Tudor styling takes on a variety of forms ranging from elaborate mansions to modest suburban homes with mock masonry veneers. The style became enormously popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and modified versions became fashionable in the 1970s and 1980s. • The essential characteristics of a Tudor Revival house usually include the use of half-timbering, oversized fireplaces, and the use of brick and stucco siding. Roofs are steeply pitched, and dormers and overhangs are common.
  23. 23. TUDOR(S)
  24. 24. The American Bungalow • Bungalow style means different things to different people and is therefore not a particularly precise term. It generally connotes a Craftsman-style house, and is widely used by most people that way. • Blurring the definition are some who describe any small house built from 1900 to about 1950 as a bungalow. They may call them Spanish or English bungalows regardless of whether or not they have any true bungalow characteristics. • There are all kinds of Bungalow styles and most of the including Craftsmen, Arts & Crafts and Prairie. Most of the Bungalow homes you see today are out West, especially in California.
  25. 25. THE CONTEMPORY • A contemporary house is a building with a modern day design to it. This design is often characterized by irregular house shapes, large windows, open floors and have organic designs. Contemporary design or modern design relies on clean lines, smooth and polished surfaces, and few intricate details. It is not stark and cold, but contemporary design is comfortable and spacious, without clutter.
  26. 26. MODERNISM - FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT • The notion that "Form follows function", a dictum originally expressed by Frank Lloyd Wright's early mentor Louis Sullivan, meaning that the result of design should derive directly from its purpose • simplicity and clarity of forms and elimination of "unnecessary detail" • materials at 90 degrees to each other • visual expression of structure (as opposed to the hiding of structural elements) • the related concept of "Truth to materials", meaning that the true nature or natural appearance of a material ought to be seen rather than concealed or altered to represent something else • use of industrially-produced materials; adoption of the machine aesthetic
  27. 27. Minimal Traditional • One of the most ubiquitous house styles is the Minimal Traditional. Commonly overlooked as a non-style, it quickly evolved from the simplified "modern" interpretation of the many revival styles prevalent during the 1920s. • The more ornamented, distinctive styles of the 1920s such as the English Revival or Spanish Eclectic were stripped of all unnecessary details and marketed as Modern American, Modern English, or Modern Colonial cottages. These small homes replaced the craftsman-style bungalows of the previous decade, which by the early 1930s were considered out of date and hopelessly old-fashioned. Because they were small, they were also affordable by many working and middle-class families.
  28. 28. I hope you enjoyed this look at American residential architecture. Obviously I just touched on many areas and didn’t even mention others. If any of my readers would like me to go further, just let me know. I have in the works a “biography” of Levittown, NY and an in depth look at Frank Lloyd Wright and his impact on American architecture. Jeffrey Shapiro Sales Agent – Realtor® New York – New Jersey Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage® Senior Real Estate Specialist NJ Circle of Excellence 15 Vervalen Street, Closter, NJ 07624 201-767-0550 (office) 201-519-1600 (cell) Please remember that no matter the style of home you want or plan on selling, I am here to help you with any of your real estate needs. My Best, Jeff