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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

Global Architecture Style: Victorian

Posted by Holli McRae on 1/22/15 1:30 PM

For most people, the term "Victorian architecture" defines a diverse but singular style. The reality is that this term encompasses several architectural styles, all of which were used during the mid to late 19th century. The name, of course, comes from the reigning British queen at the time: Queen Victoria.

Victorian homeowners were very social; dinner parties took place several times a week and consisted of pre- and post meal activities. For these socialites, having a home that was impressive and built in the latest style was key. (The ornate look was soon spurned, however, by the development of new construction technology, particularly the availability of affordable wood and the ability to incorporate steel into buildings.)

Although Victorian architecture is rooted in England, it quickly spread worldwide as British architects started to emigrate to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Eventually, improved communications in the 19th century began to inform international architects of the latest and greatest styles and trends, and the Victorian influence grew.

Still, the exact Victorian time period and names of architectural styles differ from country to country. In the United States, Victorian style was generally popular from 1860 to 1900. San Francisco in particular is well known for its Victorian architecture. In Australia, the Victorian period was recognized from 1840 to 1890. Melbourne's world-heritage Royal Exhibition Building and Rialto Building are both good examples of classic Victorian architecture in Australia.

Many Victorian-era homes combine several different styles and features, but the following is a basic guideline for the most common Victorian architectural styles.

Italianate Victorian homes were considered a blend of formal and classical styles, and were often inspired by country villas from the Old World. These homes were built in rectangular sections to imitate the look of Italian-style villas. The arches of traditional Roman architecture were often combined with the detail that became possible with new construction technology of the time. Other common features include large porches with decorative eaves, paired arched windows, Corinthian columns, flat or low-pitched roofs and a central square tower or cupola.



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