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  4. That’s an Interesting Looking House: Victorian Homes Part II
Victorian Style Homes Part II - Quicken Loans Zing BlogIn my most recent “That’s an Interesting Looking House” post, I introduced you to a few of the many Victorian home styles. Here in part two, I’ll share even more.

In case you didn’t catch the last post, let’s quickly recap what the Victorian era brought to architecture. First, Victorian builders broke away from the structure and symmetry seen in previous home styles. Second, they borrowed elements from Italian Renaissance and European medieval architecture. Third, architects romanticized the European countryside and sought to bring that imagery and feeling into sprawling, industrialized cities.

Now that you’re up to speed, let’s take a closer look at a few more popular Victorian style homes.

Second Empire (mansard style)
When you think Second Empire, think of the Addams Family home. If you aren’t an avid TV Land viewer, think about Paris, France. Back in the 1850s, Napoleon III transformed the city at the center of his empire into a grandiose capital with elaborate buildings and picturesque boulevards. After the Civil War, the Second Empire style gained popularity in the United States and stayed strong for nearly 30 years.

The Davenport-Curtis home located in Saline, Michigan, is a great example of a typical Second Empire style home.

One of the key features to look for when identifying a Second Empire home is the mansard roof. This type of roof has a trapezoidal shape rather than the pyramid shape of traditional roofs. Mansard roofs allowed for extra living space in the attic and have dormers to let in light.

Other key features:

  • Asymmetrical footprint
  • Symmetrically placed narrow windows
  • Tall, thin and heavily embellished windows
  • Hoods on top of the windows
  • Quoins (decorative brick work at the corners of the exterior)
  • Ornamental elements on top of the eaves
  • Decorative brackets supporting eaves
  • Square towers
  • Cast iron decorations on the roofline

Stick style
You might want to associate the Stick style with the Tudor style, but there are subtle differences that separate them in the architectural world. Stick home exteriors are usually made exclusively from thin wood pieces. Tudor houses, on the other hand, mix thick timbers and masonry into the exterior design. Stick homes draw influence from cottages found in the Swiss countryside or original European Gothic homes. Tudor homes draw inspiration from houses built during the Tudor Empire in England during the 1500s.

The John N.A. Griswold House in Rhode Island exhibits many qualities of Stick style homes.

The name Stick style comes from the thin pieces of timber that create wall patterns and designs. Like Gothic Revival homes of roughly the same period, Stick houses became popular due to the inexpensive price of mass-produced decorative wood. Most homes of this style were built in the northern United States after the Civil War. This Old House Online notes, “The [Stick] style evolved and reached its peak in America, and nowhere else.”

Other key features:

  • Almost exclusively made of wood
  • Steep roofs with gables
  • Decorative woodwork around windows, doors, and porches
  • Vertical design that reaches to the sky
  • May have a large tower or turret
  • Overhanging eaves, sometimes supported with decorative braces

Shingle style
Shingle style homes became popular late in the Victorian era as a reaction to the other overly decorative styles during this period, such as Queen Anne homes. Getting back to nature and simplicity became the focus for architects and homebuilders, and they looked to the early American Colonial Style homes for inspiration.

Notable turn-of-the-century architect Frank Lloyd Wright began designing homes in this style.

Shingle style gets its name from the fact that shingles cover the exterior of the home for both protection and decorative purposes. You’ll also notice many shingle homes don’t have lots of decorative features or lavish colors like homes built in early America. These simple and functional elements all harken back to early Colonial homes.

Other key features:

  • Little, if no, decorative features
  • Almost exclusively made of wood
  • Round towers or turrets
  • Asymmetrical footprint
  • Shingles arranged in designs or patterns
  • Palladian windows
  • Large porches

Victorian homes, in my opinion, are some of the coolest homes to look at and learn about. These homes are pieces of art, and each one is unique. You’ll be hard pressed to find two Victorian homes that look exactly the same.

Is there a style of home you want to learn about? Let us know in the comments section below!


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