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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

Famous Era's for Home Style and Design: The History of Housing

Posted by Kyle Boatwright on 5/29/18 3:28 PM

Octagon House

When was the last time you really noticed a house? Perhaps you've noticed one that brought thoughts of your childhood or grandparents. Houses are more than buildings; they are homes where people grow, where stories develop, and where memories are made. Let's take a closer look at the evolution of home styles through the history of our nation:

Federal (1780-1820)

The Federal style is attributed to the English Adamesque style and is sometimes, but not often, referred to as the Adam style. Influenced by ancient Roman architecture, the Federal style was the first architectural housing style in the newly formed United States. The style was particularly common in urban areas in New England.

Greek Revival (1825-1860)

As the United States grew as a country, so did its deep appreciation for the principles of Greek democracy. This explains the Greek style given to many of the country's early civic buildings. The style soon transitioned onto houses with columns and pediments.

Octagon (1850-1870)

The publication of A House for All by Orson Squire Fowler in 1848 started a trend of Octagon houses that continued for 10 years. Fowler believed the circle produced the largest amount of interior space while at the same time producing the least amount of exterior wall. Fowler devised a flat-sided shape that remained circular and worked well with other building materials. Architectural details were not the focus of Fowler's work, so details vary on the remaining houses of this period.

Colonial Revival (1880-1955), Dutch Colonial Revival (1880-1955)

The Colonial Revival and Dutch Colonial Revival eras resulted from the nostalgia and patriotism experienced in 1876. As America celebrated its centennial, new houses began incorporating earlier styles of architecture. The architecture combined a variety of elements from the Dutch Colonial, Georgian, and Federal styles. Features included large entryways, columns, and 6-over-6 windows.

Beaux Arts (1885-1930)

The French-led Beaux-Arts architectural movement found its way into the United States in the late 19th century. Using both Greek and Roman features as a foundation, this form of architecture is remembered for its elaborate decorative surfaces. Large columns and Roman arches were common features along with heavy masonry and massive plans. The Beaux Arts period in housing was one of grand style. It was popular among larger estates and often included in beautifully designed gardens with arches, fountains, and reflecting pools.

American Foursquare (1890-1935), Arts & Crafts (1905-1930)

The post-Victorian era was one of simplifying housing and architecture style into what was later termed Foursquare. This style became enormously popular around 1910 with thousands built. Features included hipped roofs, a boxy shape, and wide porches. The Arts & Crafts style developed during this time, and while not really a style, the approach was open floor plans, the use of natural building materials, and light-filled rooms with views of the outdoors. Bungalows are one example of the Arts & Crafts style of a house.

Ranch Style (1932-1975)

Ranch style houses were modeled after the casual style homes on Western ranches. These houses provided one-floor living and with many having sliding glass doors for easy access to the outside. The surge in ranch style popularity aligned with the growth of suburbs. This then led to ranch style houses with garages for keeping automobiles. Another interesting element of the ranch design was the emphasis on backyards where in the past, such an emphasis was placed on having a front porch.

Housing Today

Popular do-it-yourself shows, along with home renovation shows are creating renewed interest in older homes. Factor in the popularity of reuse and recycling and it is easy to see why many Americans are interested in saving older structures. Each and every architectural style listed above was built with the character and detail that attract those who associate the styles with simpler times or just plain nostalgia.

Taking on a renovation is a major project and replacing architectural items with ones of durability is crucial. For new construction homes, the same is true. Incorporating older, traditional elements with a more modern design is absolutely possible. Again, durability rules as the goals are to create a structure and style for you and your family to enjoy and for generations to come. For information about Worthington American Made Architectural Products, visit us online or contact us today. Our friendly and professional staff works with builders nationwide. Let us help you plan your next project.

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