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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
Early Victorian structures were relatively simple in style, while
those built after the Civil War became more complicated. Complex
HomeThey 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.
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 windows under the gable and on occasion a tower.
MansionContemporary critics accuse the Victorians of needless
complexity and clutter.
Gothic Revival Early Victorian houses drew inspiration mostly from
Western Europe, usually reinterpreting medieval forms. Multi-colored
and textured walls, steeply pitched roofs and asymmetrical facades are
traditional features. Gothic Revival homes are most easily identified
by the elaborate vergeboard (also called gingerbread) below the
gables, and the strong vertical emphasis of the windows and rooflines.
Italianate As the architectural influence of the Federal Era blended
with the emerging Victorian aesthetic, a new style developed,
incorporating the arches and pediments of Roman architecture with the
elaborate detailing made possible by the emerging industrial base of
the growing nation. Italianate homes featured elaborate porch
decoration, decorative eaves, symmetrical facades with corner quoins,
and arched windows which were often paired. Some Italianate homes
featured a central square tower or cupola, and most had flat or
low-pitched roofs. The Italianate style later influenced the rise of
Richardsonian Romanesque; a style prevalent in many of the large
public buildings built during the late 1800's.
Second Empire As the newly prospering cities of America blossomed, the
impulse for a new and equally vigorous urban architecture also grew.
Inspired by the ornate cityscapes of Paris, Second Empire architecture
incorporates rectangular or square floor plans, tall flat facades
capped by Mansard roofs with dormer windows, and double entry doors.
Roofs are frequently patterned and bay windows are also common.
Stick / Eastlake Increasingly affordable building materials and
woodworking allowed for creative new uses of wood cladding and framing
beyond the basic box structure. Stick / Eastlake style homes feature
decorative trusswork, exposed half-timber framing, and an
intermingling of vertical and horizontal planes. Roofs are typically
steeply pitched with simple gables. Stick style houses are
particularly common in California and other areas where no previous
architectural style had predominated.
Shingle Similar to Stick style architecture, Shingle style buildings
are notable for their extensive and unusual use of newly affordable
wood products. Manufacturing techniques made it possible to produce
wood shingles in such abundance that architects incorporated them not
only as roofing, but also as siding. In Shingle style houses, the
entire exterior sometimes consists of shingles.
Folk Victorian Given the affordable and widespread construction
techniques of the era, working class families could, for the first
time, build homes of their own. The tradition of the English cottage
and American homestead merged with the romanticism of the era, giving
rise to the style known as Folk Victorian. Often found in rural or
country settings, Folk Victorian homes are usually constructed from
local materials and blend functionality with newer stylistic
ornamentation that includes colorful and fluid vergeboard (also called
gingerbread) around wide wrap-around porches. Though often less
elaborate than their urban counterparts, Folk Victorian homes feature
a similar attention to texture variations and creative decoration.
Queen Anne Perhaps the most recognizable of Victorian styles, Queen
Anne houses quickly gained popularity throughout the entire country
from the late 1870's to the beginning of the 1900's. The Queen Anne
style shows the influence of English architect Richard Norman Shaw,
whose designs melded the ideals of the old-English cottage with the
rampant decorative impulse of the Victorian Era. Queen Anne homes
frequently feature irregular floor plans, multiple steep roofs and
porches with decorative gables. Dominant octagonal or circular towers,
corbelled chimneys, and highly decorative windows and entry doors with
glass panels add to the curb appeal of these beautiful homes. Common
elaborations include vergeboard and exterior framing, bay windows, and
a wide variety of colors and textures throughout the entire structure.
Gilded Age / Beaux Arts Infrequently used in home-building except in
the most expansive of mansions, Beaux Arts designs are nevertheless
important in the influence they exerted on the period. Also called
"The American Renaissance", Beaux Arts architecture features massive
stone bearing walls, large arched windows, porches, and entries,
paired columns, extensive use of sculpture and bas-relief stonework,
and grandly scaled interiors reminiscent of the great palaces of
Victorian Hardware America's Industrial Revolution led to an explosion
of new hardware styles and techniques. Brass and bronze were used
extensively, as traditional forging methods were replaced by cheaper
methods of metalworking. Charles Eastlake's "Hints on House Hold
Taste" popularized the concept of elaborate hardware. In 1872, Russell
& Erwin started mass-producing standard hardware types and soon most
pieces found in Victorian homes were created in a factory rather than
a craftsman's workshop. The availability of new technologies such as
electrical power and central heat also created unique opportunities in
hardware design. Common hardware included the mortise lock, cabinet
knobs and bin pulls, entry doorsets with plate and latch combined, and
offset hinges. Innovations include push-button electrical switches,
brass floor registers, thumb-turn and electrical doorbells, and