Help identifying house style!

amt782May 9, 2012

I know that not all houses are going to neatly fit into a specific style category but I would at least like to narrow down the options! I just bought a house that was built in 1904 and designed by an architect (not out of sears catalog). It was poorly remodeled many times prior to my acquiring it and therefore lacks many original "clues" on how to proceed with specific style elements. I live in a historic district so all houses are old but are styled quite differently than my own (more elaborate and almost definitely victorian). The building itself has not been altered and consists of 3 floors not including basement. 1000 square feet on the first and second floors and 850 on the third floor. Its solid brick with 8 over 8 double hung wood windows (storm windows on the front of house make it look like two seperate 4 over 4 but they are coming down soon). The only other elements we know to be original are the front door, sidelights, windows, main staircase and interior doors which are oak 5 panel. We need to replace the exterior shutters and add missing interior and exterior door trim and I want to make sure our choices are appropriate. We also have 3 fireplaces with were stripped of original mantels. Ideas, input, suggestions?

From Stairs

From Stairs

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I think it's an American Foursquare. I love the bench in the entry! I don't know where you're coated, but it makes me think of St. Louis.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:18PM
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It's definitely a 4square. Do you have 4 rooms upstairs and 4 rooms on the main floor?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Yes the layout of the first two floors is definitely foursquare but the third floor has 6 dormers total which makes it almost a full floor. The hip roof has an extremely steep pitch almost mansard style except the pitch remain the same all the way to the top. Anyway, in terms of style- here is another shot of the interior of the front door. The sidelights were boarded over and we didn't even know they were there until a chat with a neighbor! But now we are trying to decide how to finish it (casing/trim/plinth block?) both inside and out. The casing around the door looks to have been original but had been cut when sidelights were drywalled over to only surround the door. The two vertical pieces are shown in the pic below- I stripped and repainted before finding out about sidelights. The problem is they are 68" tall and the door frame is 98" tall. They were pieced/patched at the bottom but even with a lot of blending it never looked like one piece. But basically my question is, is there a way to reuse these vertical pieces and instead of patching a small piece on to the bottom to extend it, just using an extra large plinth block or similar? I don't even know if I am expressing the problem clearly, sorry if this is super confusing! I would appreciate any suggestions on how to trim the door/sidelights in period-appropriate style! ** And yes, I am in St. Louis!
From Stairs

From Stairs

From Stairs

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:06AM
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It's a row house not a foursquare. It appears to have Colonial Revival details romanticized by the pervading Victorian sentiments. Like the built in settle at the foot of the stairs.
Stick with colonial revival and it will be correct.
And cover up the bare brick, that idea was born in the 1970's.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:03AM
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"Foursquare" was the floor plan ... from there, the interiors were finished in whatever the owner wanted.

So if you want Colonial Revival, go for it.

I've seen Craftsman, Art Deco, Colonial Revival and around here, Territorial Ranchhouse ... all with the efficient Foursquare layout.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:46PM
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i LOVE the look of this house. it looks smaller than most four squares that I see and very old-world urban. Super cool

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:04PM
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I agree with almost everything sombreuil says except 'its a row house'...I think its hard to tell from the pic, but it doesn't appear to share a common wall with the house next door--and isn't that a requirement for a rowhouse? My campus area has many examples of rowhouses from about 1890s-1930s...and all of them have common walls, and are all usually the same height, while the house pictured here doesn't.

Was the house perhaps built before the other ones? Or was it 'infill'? Or perhaps the original rowhouse burned, and was rebuilt as a separate foursquare?

What few interior details you show could go with most any style--the bench could be colonial or craftsman, as these things were often a mix. My own foursquare is mostly greek revival I'd say, although my mantel has curves like your bench, the upper part with mirror has columns with egg-and-dart molding, as does the colonnade between my entry and parlor. My porch has Tuscan style columns and originally had X-shaped railing sections just to throw in some Roman influence. :)

For pics, you can check out my threads: House Pics At Last I and II.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 6:20PM
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I'm with sombreuil; your home is missing one of the hallmarks of a foursquare -- the full front porch. It doesn't look like it ever had one, either, because of the window in the basement. Nevertheless, it is a lovely home.

Any plinth you add would have to be 30" tall to make up the difference between the trim length and the frame height. That's a bit awkward! Perhaps you could add a 12" high piece of trim at the top and an 18" plinth at the bottom. Find a book with late Victorian trim work and see what might be appropriate. Dover used to re-publish a lot of the original builders' books; they may still be available.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 10:16PM
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i don't know that being attached is necessarily a quality of a row house. i always think of them as being fairly narrow houses built right up to the front property line with no front porch.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 3:09PM
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