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Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

Posted by xuxachi (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 20, 12 at 21:52

My husband and I just purchased a 1927 home in Westchester Co., NY. We always refer to the house as a colonial with a french twist, but that is obviously not technically accurate. I have been combing through "A Field Guide to American Houses" and here is what I can surmise:

The house has many of the features of a colonial revival: accentuated front door, hipped roof, symmetrically balanced windows and center door, windows with double-hung sashes.

It also seems to have some of the features of the French Eclectic style, which will use brick and stucco wall cladding, sometimes with false half timbering (which can be found on the 2nd floor sun-room), these can also be symmetrical. However, the house does not have the defining characteristic: the tall, steeply pitched hipped roof - our house does not.

Some of the more pronounced features remind me of some of the Tudors that are prominent in our area. For example, the brick and wood arched doorway and multiple materials on the facade: stucco with red brick along the corners, as well as some decorative half-timbering. The book says that French Eclectic styles can often resemble the Tudors, but lack the dominant front-facing cross gables.

The "eyebrows" above the 2nd story window are something that I have not been able to locate in the books. There are no dormers in the front of the house, but one in the back.

We will be doing a lot of exterior work on the house; replacing all windows, roof, gutters, repainting, rebuilding the walk-way and front entrance, replacing the porch to the right, and if possible would like to keep true to the style of the house. But it seems to have a split personality. Would love to know what people think.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

Can you post a picture? In the twenties, architects/builders often drew from a variety of historical references. So a house could have a bit of Craftsman and a bit of Spanish Colonoal Revival, etc. Yours sounds like a "Storybook" style home, which usually has romantic bits of various types of homes. Post a pic and we can help you better.


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

No one can offer an opinion unless they have seen what you have seen.


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

I did attempt to attach a photo, but I guess it didn't work. Here goes again!


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

What you have is a center entrance colonial, but that describes the layout and not the style.

The style is Mediterranean Revival.


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

You say you're going to replace all the windows, but let me ask you to slow down a little. Today's replacement windows are going to last 10 years, maybe 20. The 90 year old wooden windows in my old lady are going strong, but they are being helped along by an old-house-window expert. We are having them re-zinced (we have leaded glass windows, but it's zinc, not lead), and rehung with new sash cords and weather-stripping. Much less expensive than replacing them with inferior new windows, and much truer to the house. We are also having wooden storm windows built to replace the aluminum triple-tracks.

Think carefully before you tear out your old wooden windows. You'll never find anything like them again.


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

I posted this query some time ago, and life got in the way and I never followed up properly. After birthing another child - and a new kitchen - we are now thinking about what to do about the windows and the exterior of the house generally. I don't suppose that vjmts is still around, but I do appreciate the suggestion to stick with the original windows and we are considering it in the mix.

My new question is, where does one find an expert to help assess the challenge of renovating old windows? Further, we'd like some expert advice on how to go about other exterior changes - for example, changes to the roof, color choices, window style (if non-originals are used and a different style is desired), front stairs, etc. What kind of person could give a whole-house perspective on our long-term plans? Finally, can anyone recommend an online tool that could be used to mock up options?


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

This is what architects do.


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

go to your nearest historic district and start making friends. word of mouth is the best way to find out about craftsmen who do old-house-specific work.

I would reinforce the caution to hurry and replace windows and at the very least, if you absolutely must - add on triple track storms while you seek a repair person.

New windows will never be capable of outlasting or outperforming the old ones with proper care and storms no matter how hard a new vinyl replacement salesman screams otherwise.

Finally, if you DO replace the old windows PLEASE let people know you have original sashes - do not let your replacement company break and toss them in the trash - I assure you that someone will absolutely pay you for them or you could be the bigger person and gift them to a person for reuse or gift them to a local salvage place. Even if someone doesn't reinstall the sash into a window, the glass itself can be reused in various ways - I use old discarded glass for picture framing since the wavy glass is so so so so so desirable to old house nuts like me.


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

StoneHouseGuy - thanks for the suggestions - I will check out the historic district and see who I can meet. I am facing an uphill battle with my husband on keeping the windows, so finding someone good who can give us some good advice and course of action will be great. I'm in the greater NYC area, and the initial search I did to find someone only brought up a few based out of NYC who do historic homes, which might be overkill for us, as we just want functional windows, not a complete restoration. Also, if we do end up replacing, I will keep in mind that we can sell or give them away - I would wish for them to not end up in the trash.

Renovator8- I'm reaching out to our architect who helped us with the kitchen and see if she can help us with the long-term planning of the exterior. thanks.

Meantime, anyone have any suggestions for mocking up software? I would love to tinker on my own :)


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RE: Is this a Colonial or French Eclectic?

  • Posted by vjrnts zone 6, NY (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 19:58

Hi, yeah, I'm still here!

I'm very glad to hear that you haven't replaced your windows. We've had wood-and-glass storms built for our old windows. They've done a good job during this frigid winter!

You say "My new question is, where does one find an expert to help assess the challenge of renovating old windows." I would look in a copy of Old House Journal, which is available online or in stores, and, of course Google "window restoration repair." You live near NYC, and there's GOT to be a window expert in your neck of the woods!


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