YEARS OF POPULARITY (PERIOD):  1893 – 1940 (primarily 1900 – 1929)

INTRODUCTION TO REVIVAL STYLES: Each revival style identifies specifically with an architecture of an earlier time and place, especially those related to early American or European precedents. Several popular revival styles are included on this blog, though other, less popular revival styles also appeared. To classify this grouping of architectural styles presents a challenge, as one could argue that many earlier Victorian styles were similarly revivalist. In fact, one publication includes several revival styles within the larger category of Victorian architecture (Cunliffe, et. al. 2010). The concept of “period styles” has also been adopted by some writers (including this one), though it was an early 20th century term used by non-professionals to romanticize the past. On the flip side are the architectural historians who prefer the more academic “Age of eclecticism” or “Eclectic Era,” which is an important concept to provide historical context here. The Eclectic Era, however, includes both revival and early modern styles that competed ideologically and appeared nearly simultaneously before the Great Depression. For purposes here, then, “revival styles” seems most appropriate, adapted widely across America for use in middle-class homes, wealthy country houses, commercial buildings, early skyscrapers, and civic buildings. Though overlapping with the more picturesque Victorian era, these styles largely gained popularity during the first two decades of the 20th century and heavily influenced our residential and commercial landscapes.

During this time (mostly between 1900 and 1929), accuracy of styles became important once again, unlike Queen Anne style, which borrowed from a variety of sources. Most Important, revival styles look to the past for inspiration. The trend toward revivalist architecture gained momentum from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the Columbian Exposition, where historical interpretations of European styles were encouraged. Simultaneous to the rise of revivalist architecture, the modern era saw its beginnings with architects who were instead looking to the future, not to the past, with more progressive, modernist styles. Thus defines the Eclectic Movement of the early 20th century, which consisted of a simultaneous and perhaps competing interest in both modern and historic architectural traditions. This variety, or eclecticism, provided for one of the most diverse and colorful periods for architecture and urban design in American history, when almost anyone with at least a middle-class income could choose from one of a dozen or more styles for their home.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND FEATURES: Neoclassical Revival became a dominant style for domestic buildings nationwide between 1900-1940s. It was directly inspired by the Beaux-Arts style and the Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair, 1893). The style tends to include the features of classical symmetry, full-height porch with columns and temple front, and various classical ornament such as dentil cornices. Basically, this is the revival of the Greek Revival style that dominated the first half of the 19th century. Because the style was more scaled down and flexible than its grander cousin, the Beaux-Arts, Neoclassical spread prolifically throughout the U.S. and became popular for a wide range of everyday buildings. Everything from townhouses, suburban homes, county courthouses, main street commercial buildings, and bank branches readily employed variations of the style. Often the single identifying feature on simpler structures (such as townhouses) might be the prominent columned porch with Greek portico above the entryway. Also unlike Beaux-Arts style, Neoclassical buildings tend to stick with pure Greek elements, especially the trabeated (post and lintel) form of Greek temples, with their columns, entablatures, and triangular pediments. In contrast, Beaux-Arts tends to incorporate both Greek and Roman forms, particularly that of the rounded, Roman arch.

PERIOD OF POPULARITY: Roughly 1700-1810 (New England), to 1850s (Pennsylvania)

IDENTIFYING FEATURES: Renaissance-inspired classical symmetry, two rooms deep, two floors high (Four over Four plan), central or end chimneys, classical detailing, transom lights, pilasters (flat, attached columns) around door. Hipped roof (British Georgian), or side-gable roof (American Georgian). The “half Georgian” consisted of one “side” of a full Georgian, popular for row houses on urban lots. Single-story Georgians also exist, often referred to as “Capes” or “Cape Cods” from what I know. From my reading and observations, it is tricky to identify many buildings as either Georgian or Federal. Any structures on this page built after roughly 1780 with a Palladian window and/or elliptical fanlight over the door could also be considered Federal style.

BACKGROUND AND INSPIRATION: Georgian is among the most long-lived styles of American building forms, still popular for new townhouses or suburban homes into the 21st century. Named after King George III of England, the style was inspired primarily by two early high-style examples in colonial America: namely, the Wren Building, 1695, at the College of William and Mary; and the Virginia Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, VA. The style reflected the order and symmetry of Renaissance ideals, made popular by architect Sir Christopher Wren in England after 1650. In the English colonies, style was beginning to matter by the late 1600s and the general level of prosperity was increasing. These factors led to the wide-scale adoption of the Georgian style from Maine to Georgia. Curiously, Pennsylvanians continued building Georgian row houses until the Civil War, while New Englanders had abandoned Georgian style mostly by 1800.

YEARS OF POPULARITY (PERIOD): Began in the 13th century

INTRODUCTION: The term “manor house” can be loosely applied to a whole range of buildings, but at its most basic refers to the house of a local lord/landowner. In strict architectural terms a manor house is a late medieval country house.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND FEATURES: The medieval manor house has its architectural roots in the Saxon hall, a simple rectangular building which acted as a communal gathering place for eating, sleeping, and transacting business. Servants and other retainers slept around an open fire in the centre of the hall, while the lord and his family occupied a raised dais at one end of the hall. This simple Saxon design was incorporated into early Norman castles, with the hall occupying the first floor of the castle keep.

By the 13th century the fortified manor house emerged. Not quite castle, yet more advanced than the Saxon hall, these early fortified manors were built in brick or stone, with a timber roof. The fire was still open and the hall was still the abode of servants and retainers, but now a new room was added; the solar. The solar was a private room for the lord and his family, usually on the first floor, and reached from the raised dais at one end of the hall. The space beneath the solar was often given over to storage.

At the other end of the hall from the solar was the kitchen area, usually separated from the main hall by wooden screens. Over time the kitchen became a totally separate room, often arranged at right angles to the main hall. The main entrance to the manor was at the kitchen end. A good example of this type of manor design can be seen at Stokesay, Shropshire. Window space was at a minimum in the fortified manor, and outer defenses may have included a moat with a gatehouse reached by a drawbridge.

In the 14th century the manor house more elaborate room additions appeared. The buttery, or food storage area, appeared between the kitchens and the main hall. Above the buttery was a guest room, a further evidence of a growing awareness of, and interest in, personal privacy. The simple entrance of the earlier century became a more elaborate porch, over which could appear a gallery for musicians. The various rooms; solar, hall, buttery, kitchen, had their own separate roofs, often at right angles to each other. Though the most desirable building material was still stone – for those who could afford it – bricks made an appearance, particularly in East Anglia.

By the early 15th century the fortified manor house had run its course. The more settled conditions of the period meant that defense was no longer the highest priority, and more time and energy was spent creating structures with comfort in mind. The drawbridge gave way to a fixed bridge over the moat, and the gatehouse became more elaborately decorative; a grand entry way rather than a forbidding barrier. The upper floor of the gatehouse was often used as a chapel.

The house itself was most often arranged around a central courtyard, with domestic buildings of one to three stories in height. With more space devoted to comfort, private bedrooms and reception rooms became common, as well as family areas like the solar. Materials varied with the locale; half-timber, stone, brick, and flint were all used.

Major examples of 15th century manors include Great Chalfield (Wiltshire), Lytes Cary (Somerset), Cotehele (Cornwall), and Great Dixter (Sussex).

To generalize about the post-Medieval manor, it is safe to say that buildings became more spacious and elaborate, more ostentatious and ornate. The basic pattern of country houses evolved from the courtyard design to a more open E or H shape. Windows occupied a large proportion of wall space; advances in glazing techniques account for part of this approach, but so did less need for defense. Another strain of influence was a burgeoning interest in classical design. More Englishmen were travelling abroad and they were influenced by Italian classicism, and still more by Flemish and French interpretations of that classical style. In this last ornate flowering of the medieval manor we can see the origins of the neo-classical country house estates of the next several centuries.

PERIOD OF POPULARITY:  Roughly 1910 – 1940 (mostly 1920s prior to the Great Depression).

INTRODUCTION TO REVIVAL STYLES: Each revival style identifies specifically with an architecture of an earlier time and place, especially those related to early American or European precedents. Several popular revival styles are included on this blog, though other, less popular revival styles also appeared. To classify this grouping of architectural styles presents a challenge, as one could argue that many earlier Victorian styles were similarly revivalist. In fact, one publication includes several revival styles within the larger category of Victorian architecture (Cunliffe, et. al. 2010). The concept of “period styles” has also been adopted by some writers (including this one), though it was an early 20th century term used by non-professionals to romanticize the past. On the flip side are the architectural historians who prefer the more academic “Age of eclecticism” or “Eclectic Era,” which is an important concept to provide historical context here. The Eclectic Era, however, includes both revival and early modern styles that competed ideologically and appeared nearly simultaneously before the Great Depression. For purposes here, then, “revival styles” seems most appropriate, adapted widely across America for use in middle-class homes, wealthy country houses, commercial buildings, early skyscrapers, and civic buildings. Though overlapping with the more picturesque Victorian era, these styles largely gained popularity during the first two decades of the 20th century and heavily influenced our residential and commercial landscapes.

During this time (mostly between 1900 and 1929), accuracy of styles became important once again, unlike Queen Anne style, which borrowed from a variety of sources. Most Important, revival styles look to the past for inspiration. The trend toward revivalist architecture gained momentum from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the Columbian Exposition, where historical interpretations of European styles were encouraged. Simultaneous to the rise of revivalist architecture, the modern era saw its beginnings with architects who were instead looking to the future, not to the past, with more progressive, modernist styles. Thus defines the Eclectic Movement of the early 20th century, which consisted of a simultaneous and perhaps competing interest in both modern and historic architectural traditions. This variety, or eclecticism, provided for one of the most diverse and colorful periods for architecture and urban design in American history, when almost anyone with at least a middle-class income could choose from one of a dozen or more styles for their home.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND FEATURES: Tudor revival became especially popular for 1920s suburban homes, loosely based on late medieval prototypes. The style reaches back to England’s Tudor period (1500-1559) as a romanticized revival of the timber-frame buildings popular at that time. Many of the revival examples are dominated visually with (ornamental) half-timbering, a medieval English building tradition, often with stucco or masonry veneered walls, steeply pitched roof, and cross-gabled plans. A varient of this is sometimes referred to as the Picturesque Cottage or English Cottage, which typically includes a picturesque (asymmetrical) floor plan but without the half timbering. A whimsical variant of the Tudor Revival is the playful Storybook Style, also known as the Cotswold Cottage or Hansel and Gretel Cottage. The Cotswald cottage imitates late medieval structures characteristic to England’s Cotswald region. Even more based in fantasy and Disney-esque imagery are the Storybook Style homes that appeared during the early 20th century, primarily in wealthier areas.