Posted by Bart Thrasher
Source: Jackie Craven for ThoughtCo.com
The style of the American home has evolved over hundreds of years dating back to the Cape Cod and Colonial styles seen in the 1600's to the new traditional style of the present McMansion. These styles have been impacted through the years by geography, building practices and materials, regional environments, as well as personal and cultural influence.
Below are just a handful of styles often seen in our area of North Texas. What is your favorite?
1870 - 1910: Folk Victorian
About the Folk Victorian house style:
Life was simple before the age of railroads. In the vast, remote stretches of North America, families built no-fuss, square or L-shaped houses in the National or Folk style. But the rise of industrialization made it easier and more affordable to add decorative details to otherwise simple homes. Decorative architectural trim could be mass produced. As the railroads expanded, factory-made building parts could be sent to far corners of the continent.
Also, small towns could now obtain sophisticated woodworking machinery. A crate of scrolled brackets might find its way to Kansas or Wyoming, where carpenters could mix and match the pieces according to personal whim... Or, according to what happened to be in the latest shipment.
Many Folk Victorian houses were adorned with flat, jigsaw cut trim in a variety of patterns. Others had spindles, gingerbread and details borrowed from the Carpenter Gothic style. With their spindles and porches, some Folk Victorian homes may suggest Queen Anne architecture. But unlike Queen Annes, Folk Victorian houses are orderly and symmetrical houses. They do not have towers, bay windows, or elaborate moldings.
1890 - Present: Tudor House Style
About the Tudor Style:
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.
Handsome examples of Tudor Revival architecture may be found throughout Great Britain, northern Europe, and the United States. The main square in Chester, England is surrounded by lavish Victorian Tudors that stand unapologetically alongside authentic medieval buildings.
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.
1890-1940: Tudor Cottage
About the Tudor Cottage house style:
The small, fanciful Tudor Cottage is a popular subtype of the Tudor Revival house style. This quaint English country style resembles cottages built since medieval times in the Cotswold region of southwestern England. A fascination for medieval styles inspired American architects create modern versions of the rustic homes. The Tudor Cottage style became especially popular in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s.
The picturesque Tudor Cottage is usually asymmetrical with a steep, complex roof line. The floor plan tends to include small, irregularly-shaped rooms, and the upper rooms have sloping walls with dormers. The home may have a sloping slate or cedar roof that mimics the look of thatch. A massive chimney often dominates either the front or one side of the house.
1893-1920: Prairie Style
About the Prairie Style:
Frank Lloyd Wright believed that rooms in Victorian era homes were boxed-in and confining. He began to design houses with low horizontal lines and open interior spaces. Rooms were often divided by leaded glass panels. Furniture was either built-in or specially designed. These homes were called prairie style after Wright's 1901 Ladies Home Journal plan titled, "A Home in a Prairie Town." Prairie houses were designed to blend in with the flat, prairie landscape.
The first Prairie houses were usually plaster with wood trim or sided with horizontal board and batten. Later Prairie homes used concrete block. Prairie homes can have many shapes: Square, L-shaped, T-shaped, Y-shaped, and even pinwheel-shaped.
Many other architects designed Prairie homes and the style was popularized by pattern books. The popular American Foursquare style, sometimes called the Prairie Box, shared many features with the Prairie style.
In 1936, during the USA depression, Frank Lloyd Wright developed a simplified version of Prairie architecture called Usonian. Wright believed these stripped-down houses represented the democratic ideals of the United States.
1895 - 1930: American Foursquare
About the Foursquare house style:
The American Foursquare, or the Prairie Box, was a post-Victorian style that shared many features with the Prairie architecture pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright. The boxy foursquare shape provided roomy interiors for homes on small city lots. The simple, square shape also made the Foursquare style especially practical for mail order house kits from Sears and other catalog companies.
Creative builders often dressed up the basic foursquare form. Although foursquare houses are always the same square shape, they can have features borrowed from any of these styles:
1905-1930: Arts and Crafts (Craftsman)
Arts and Crafts history:
During the 1880s, John Ruskin, William Morris, Philip Webb, and other English designers and thinkers launched the Arts and Crafts Movement, which celebrated handicrafts and encouraged the use of simple forms and natural materials. In the United States, two California brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Green, began to design houses that combined Arts and Crafts ideas with a fascination for the simple wooden architecture of China and Japan.
The name "Craftsman" comes from the title of a popular magazine published by the famous furniture designer, Gustav Stickley, between 1901 and 1916. A true Craftsman house is one that is built according to plans published in Stickley's magazine. But other magazines, pattern books, and mail order house catalogs began to publish plans for houses with Craftsman-like details. Soon the word "Craftsman" came to mean any house that expressed Arts and Crafts ideals, most especially the simple, economical, and extremely popular Bungalow.
A Craftsman house is often a Bungalow, but many other styles can have Arts and Crafts, or Craftsman, features.
1905-1930: American Bungalow
History of the American Bungalow:
The Bungalow is an all American housing type, but it has its roots in India. In the province of Bengal, single-family homes were called bangla or bangala. British colonists adapted these one-story thatch-roofed huts to use as summer homes. The space-efficient floor plan of bungalow houses may have also been inspired by army tents and rural English cottages. The idea was to cluster the kitchen, dining area, bedrooms, and bathroom around a central living area.
The first American house to be called a bungalow was designed in 1879 by William Gibbons Preston. Built at Monument Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the two-story house had the informal air of resort architecture. However, this house was much larger and more elaborate than the homes we think of when we use the term Bungalow.
Two California architects, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, are often credited with inspiring America to build Bungalows. Their most famous project was the huge Craftsman style Gamble house (1909) in Pasadena, California. However, the Green brothers also published more modest Bungalow plans in many magazines and pattern books.
1935 - 1950: Minimal Traditional
Minimal Traditional houses have many of these features:
1945 - 1980: Ranch Style
History of the Ranch style:
The earth-hugging Prairie Style houses pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright and the informal Bungalow styles of the early 20th century paved the way for the popular Ranch Style. Architect Cliff May is credited with building the first Ranch Style house in San Diego, California in 1932.
After World War II, real estate developers turned to the simple, economical Ranch Style to meet the housing needs of returning soldiers and their families.
Because so many Ranch houses were built quickly according to a cookie-cutter formula, the Ranch Style later became known as ordinary and, at times, slipshod. However, during the late 1950s and 1960s, a few real estate developers re-invented the style, giving the conventional one-story Ranch House a modernist flair. Sophisticated Eichler Homes by California developer Joseph Eichler were imitated across the United States. In Palm Springs, California, the Alexander Construction Company set a new standard for one-story suburban housing with stylish Alexander Homes.