What style is my home?

hmsweethmMarch 2, 2009

I learn so much by reading this forum. We were told our house was built in 1890, and it has lots of woodwork inside. Can anyone tell me what architectural style this is? The side has curved windows on the first and second floor. Thanks for any insight anyone has.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Its a foursquare with Colonial Revival details--a Victorian version of Federal details.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:23PM
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Center hall colonial with Adamesque/beaux-arts details.
And orange dahlias in a vase on a toile tablecloth.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:42PM
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You're funny, Casey.
Thanks for all the info, but I'm not sure it's a four-square. I thought they had symetrical floor plans, and this house does not. The living room is one long room that takes up the whole front, and then the dining room is behind that and a small study across from that. The kitchen juts out at the back, behind a back staircase, and this is all original to the house. But I can see how you would think it's a foursquare from the pictures.

Thanks all.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 8:52PM
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I think houses were built with the symmetry of the foursquare without being literally so.

Its definitely colonial revival of some sort with mixed details from Adam, Federal, and Greek columms etc. The round double bay is like a Boston townhouse.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 9:37PM
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It is a Very Fine style house. It is a beauty!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 3:00PM
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It's early Colonial Revival which used decorative details from many earlier styles. Where is it located?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 9:22AM
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I'd say it also has significant Queen Anne features, the bow front windows, the barrel window vault at the rear of the house, and the chimney stack.

It's a bit more symmetrical than a true Queen Anne, though.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 2:15PM
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Thanks, everyone. It's in northern New Jersey. The people we bought it from three years ago described it as Victorian, but I knew it wasn't. If you could see the inside, which is why I included that one pretty inadequate picture, you'd see that it doesn't have any of that fancy ornamental Victorian stuff. But it's not Arts and Crafts either. Lots of quarter sawn oak throughout, but there are actually a bunch of different woods used everywhere. Luckily, none of the wood trim inside was ever painted, but I am stripping some of it to restore it and have been reading posts here on how to do that.
In the living room, the trim was stained real dark so I've been stripping that off.

I'm going to post a question on another thread on where to get storm windows for curved windows. It's cold here, and those curved windows have no protection, and they are painted shut, which bothers me in the summertime.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 4:23PM
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Another vote for Colonial Revival, especially with those elaborate dormer windows.

Gorgeous place!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 4:56PM
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I think it's a mix of the four square and Colonia Revival -- they just wanted to embellish the more simple four square design. Great house. With the windows, you might have to have custom storm made -- eeks! Here are some links on the architectural front.

Here is a link that might be useful: finding architectural style of a home

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 5:16PM
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The house is bit of a "four-square" if this term is used as a house shape rather than as an architectural style. As a house shape four-square applies to several different architectural styles like the Prairie Style, the Colonial Revival Style and Folk Styles. Four-square is usually used as the predominant architectural description only for certain folk style houses that lack the architectural detailing of more formally styled buildings.

This type of square two-story house with a hipped roof and a full-width front porch accounts for about a third of Colonial Revival houses built before 1915 and is sometimes called the Classic Box. They have both Neoclassical and Colonial Revival influences.

The classical columns on the porch and elsewhere are typical of this style but the absence of two-story classical corner pilasters and the addition of deep boxed-cornice overhangs give the house a bit of a folk style appearance. The bow windows are reminiscent of the Victorian Styles but are used as formal symmetrical elements. However, the wide proportion of the front facade and the double entrance doors suggest a central hallway plan which is not characteristic of a four-square house.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 8:22PM
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After reading all your comments, now I totally see that this is a four-square house. I don't know why I didn't get that before. I've even sat on the roof -- we were up there so my husband could patch leaks in our roof, of course -- and I could see the pyramidal shape. I guess it's all those dormers that threw me, and maybe the mix of other architectural styles, like Colonial Revival. Thanks everyone. I can see now that most houses are a mix of a lot of different things.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:15AM
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I don't think so......... look at Free-classic queen Anne. Has the attic feature -- the bays -- the turret. It fits... now it is a bit simplified -- going toward the 4-square look. Time period -- everything works.

Its too curvy to be any 4-square that I have ever seen.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 1:47PM
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It's a transitional style. It' not clearly one thing or another but a combo of several styles that were popular at the time of the building.
It happens often with buildings. It's a bit Colonial Revival with hints of Four square and even a little Arts and Crafts. The person who built it took what he liked from the different popular styles and put it into one form.
In really simple terms it's a mutt, but one beautiful looking mutt. Enjoy it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 3:12PM
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The Queen Anne/Free Classic Style is primarily a freeform asymmetrical composition with Classical detailing. Don't confuse a bowed bay with a turret.

A symmetrical four-square configuration (not really a "style") with classical detailing was a common form of the Colonial Revival Style in the Northeast even before 1890. Classical detailing and the Colonial Revival Style became more popular after the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893-4 and tapered out after 1915.

The term "Four-square" is sometimes used to describe the simple, often plain, square-shaped, 4 rooms per floor, houses built in profusion as middle-class housing between 1900 and 1930. They rarely had the central entrance halls that were common in Colonial Revival houses. If you consider this shape to be a "style" then much of the Italliante and Prairie homes would have to be called four-square. When a term becomes too widely applied it can be a distraction from the more relevant aspects of architectural style. I had never heard the term until I ran across it on the internet even though I studied architectural history in college and grad school. I had a similar experience with "bungalow" and "farmhouse" as house types rather than styles.

Here is my house as it was published in 1893 as an example of the new trend in architecture. It still had some Victorian elements especially on the interior but it was a strong departure from Queen Anne and Stick Styles. Later modifications to the interior were pure colonial revival with painted paneling and woodwork.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 3:27PM
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Most houses are polyglot in design vocabulary -- they are rarely a pure expression of one strict style. Things overlap a lot --new elements were added to update existing house plans before they were built, and often in secondary spaces, older designs were done by convenience. (I live in a Greek Revival with federal style millwork and archways on the upper floors--its what people knew how to do)

The house will take its primary style from its primary form. Strip off the "wedding cake" and its a foursquare exterior. Those are bays, not turrets. If you strip the trimming off a Queen Anne, its still an assymetrical plan.

To confound the description, there is a certain early Beaux-Arts sensibility starting to peek through on the exterior, although strictly it is not B-A, which is later, and tends to be more urban, commercial than single home residential.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 4:31PM
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Thanks for policing the use & misuse of "foursquare". It seems to be used for darn near any two-story house built within 15 years either side of 1910. If too broadly applied, it will lose any specific meaning, and become a vapid real-estate agent term like "colonial".

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 7:30PM
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Hi there,
I have begun a tiny bit of research into my mother's home - I believe that it is a foursquare, but it is a little bit different.

I found it fascinating what you said about the floor plan, "The living room is one long room that takes up the whole front, and then the dining room is behind that and a small study across from that"...that is exactly how my mom's house is! We always thought it was a bit odd - the huge living room with a set of french doors leading to the dining room, and off of the dining room another set of french doors leading to a den/study. The kitchen is then accessible from both the dining room and the living room.
There is a second floor with 4 bedrooms and 1 full bath; the 1 bedroom is connected to some sort of a 'sunroom'.
The house has a front porch and a side porch, and many people think that it is actually a semi-detached home.
Still doing research, and must take pics. Fascinating stuff, this architecture!
PS. Your home is astoundingly beautiful!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 3:24AM
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Actually, Victorian is not a house style but a time period covering 1837-1901.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 8:15AM
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Hi, Jazzy -- Just saw your comment. We have learned that the huge living room spanning the front of the house is not the original plan. Turns out, it probably started out as two rooms, perhaps both called parlors, with a foyer in between. There were pairs of pocket doors leading from that center foyer into each parlor.

There is a doorway between the dining room and that big living room, and we found that it was originally a pocket doorway. We found a bunch of pocket doors in the attic, luckily for us, and we are in the process of reviving them to install them between the dining room and LR.

If we really wanted to, we could put the walls back up to make the big LR into two parlos, because we have the pocket doors to install into those doorways, but my husband says he prefers the look of one gigantic big room. Maybe I'll post photos in another post of our efforts to restore the pocket doors into the dining room.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 2:02PM
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