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American House Styles
A history of American houses - which come in many different shapes, materials and styles. Some have architectural details that were borrowed from other cultures and some are unique to the New World.
Terms in this set (23)
Up to the 1850s - These early settler houses went up quickly, using the most abundant material around - wood, used to protect against the harsh weather. This house was common in the middle Atlantic colonies.
1607 to early 1700s - These houses existed around New England. Their steep roof pitch is a form of thatching. Early settlers learned that wood shingles were better for snow and rain. Few originals of these houses are still standing - those few left are in museums, like this house in East Hampton, New York.
1700 to 1780 - This architecture style is based on earlier European styles, which emphasized classical Greek and Roman shapes. These houses could be found in every part of the colonies in the 18th century.
1780 to 1820 - This style is based almost entirely on the English "Adamesque" style architecture, which took characteristics from ancient Roman architecture. This was the first style of homes in the United States, and it had a place in nearly every part of the country. This style was particularly found in bustling urban areas like Salem, Massachusetts.
1825 to 1860 - Americans, newly familiar 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.
1840 to 1880 - This style 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.
1840 to 1885 - Modeled after a fashion started in England, this 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.
1855 to 1885 - 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 1852-1870, during which the mansard roof was popular.
1880 to 1910 - This style is what most people would call "Victorian" and is the first product of the American Industrial Age. After the Civil War, many factories converted to make metal house parts and the machinery to cut wood trim. The railroads brought these products to all regions at an affordable price. The invention of air heating removed the need for rooms structured around stoves and fireplaces, meaning new shapes emerged. Advances in paint technology introduced vibrant new colors.
1880 to 1900 - A style mostly popular along the coast in the Northeast, these houses were usually large architects' masterpieces - free-form mansions built into the rocks and hills of the shore.
1880 to 1900 - Closely related to the Queen Anne and Shingle styles, these houses are always stone or brick. Though civic buildings were built earlier in this style, it didn't show up in houses until the popular architect Henry Hobson Richardson started his practice in New York and Boston in the 1870s.
1870 to 1910 - 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.
1880 to 1955 - The American Centennial celebrations of 1876 brought about a want for the lifestyle of our country's past, including early house styles. But rather than copy those houses directly, architects 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 classic styles because millions of examples still stand today due to the building of "McMansions" of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
1920s to 1940s - This cottage style is a subset of the Colonial Revival style. It's modeled after the simple houses of colonial New England, though early examples were almost always shingled, while 20th century examples can be clapboard, stucco, or brick. Many houses of the post World War II building boom were of this style, including many of the 17,400 cottages in Levittown, New York, the country's first housing development.
1895 to 1950 - 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.
1890 to 1940 - Mostly a medieval style, these houses have details that relate to early English architecture. 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 architecture in the late 20th century.
1915 to 1945 - 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.
Spanish Colonial Revival
1915 to 1940 - The Panama-California Exposition in San Diego in 1915 featured 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.
1910 to present - These 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.
1905 to 1930 - Followers of the Arts and Crafts movement (started in England in the late 19th century), particularly California architects emphasized the beauty of hand-crafted natural materials over Victorian-era excesses. The style also grew out of Frank Lloyd Wright's work in the Prairie style at the turn of the 20th century.
1920 to 1940 - Earlier versions of this style from 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).
1925 to present - The style took its name from a 1932 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art that showed the new work of European Bauhaus architects like Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Before World War II, it was most popular in California (where this house by Richard Neutra is located) and in wealthy Northeast suburbs.
1930s to 1960s - Loosely based on Spanish colonial houses in the Southwest, this style of house is a creation because of the use of cars. When homeowners began using their cars for transportation, they could put their houses farther apart on larger plots of land. This was one of the most popular house forms of the second half of the 20th century.
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