The Bungalow: America’s Home


Ever since it burst on the scene the bungalow has been an immensely popular style of architecture. You won’t find it listed in many books on architecture though because it is not a true architectural style like the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne Victorian, or its most closely related cousin the American Craftsman. The bungalow is a simple everyman’s house. Nothing too grand or big. No ornate gingerbread trim with extravagant 10-color paint schemes. Of all the historic home styles [...] Read on →

The Oldest House in America

Oldest House in America

  What is the oldest house in America? Is there any way to really tell? The answer is yes, we really can tell what the oldest house in America is…we think. When you go back centuries to colonial times records are not quite as complete or straight forward as they are today, but there are many ways to determine the age of a structure. The oldest house in America is a timber frame house built ca. 1637-1641 in [...] Read on →

5 Types of Dormers


Dormers are like the eyes of a house. Resting on roof tops they add headroom and light to upper stories and add interest to an otherwise plain roofline. I remember spending the first spring in our little bungalow sitting on the roof restoring the two eyebrow dormers that were almost rotted away. It was exhausting work being on that steep slope day after day, but when it was finished the pay off was incredible. Our house no longer [...] Read on →

How To: Build Historic Lattice

Historic Lattice

Lattice was a very common thing on old houses. Not just for flowering backyard trellises, but to protect foundations from critters, varmints and the neighbor’s nosing cat. Just because lattice performs a valuable function keeping your crawl space free of pests doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful part of your home’s curb appeal. Don’t settle for the dirt cheap home store version of lattice. This stuff is so thin and poorly assembled that it rarely lasts more [...] Read on →

25 Old House Terms Defined

Balusters in a balustrade

Old houses have a lot of terms that you may not be familiar with. So, having a working definition of those terms will help save you confusion and overuse of phrases like Whatchamacallit or Thingamajig. Save yourself the hassle with this handy guide to 25 old house terms you need to know. Baluster (Balustrade) – Balusters are sometimes referred to as spindles. They are the vertical members (often decorative) that make up railing on porches and stairways. A [...] Read on →

Italianate Architectural Style

Italianate Style House

The Italianate style was an elaborate architectural style popular in the U.S. at much the same time as the Gothic Revival style, from the early 1840s until the mid 1880s. The Italainate style was extraordinarily popular in the northeast, midwest and particularly common in San Francisco, which transformed from a small village into a major American port city from the 1850s to the 1870s. The Italianate style is almost completely absent from the southern states because of the [...] Read on →

American Foursquare Style

Photo Credit:

The American Foursquare, sometimes called the “Prairie Box” was a hugely popular architectural style in almost every part of the country. It is one of the consumate American house styles. Though not technically an architectural style on its own (it’s a subtype of The Prairie Style) the American Foursquare is so prevalent that I thought it deserved its own page. Simple, efficient and affordable, the American Foursquare could be fit onto any small city lot. Popular from the [...] Read on →

Getting Square with the 3:4:5 Triangle


This post may be a bit on the math nerd side, but sometimes in construction a math nerd is the one who makes the difference between a building falling down and one that lasts a hundred years. Old houses are notoriously void of right angles. They have shifted and settled over the years and nothing is either plumb or level. But I’m going to teach you how to remedy that. I’ll admit that math was not my finest [...] Read on →

Why Does My Old House Have Two Front Doors?

Photo credit Scott Sidler

Lots of old homes have the mysterious second front door. Some were added in renovations over the years, but others are original. The explanations for these original double doors are all over the map. Many folks finally give up hope of finding an answer to this architectural mystery, but I have some ideas for you. If your old house has two front doors there are a number of reasons. Depending on your home’s style, age, location and size [...] Read on →

When Did The Garage Become So Important?

Garage House

I was driving through the suburbs yesterday on the way to a friend’s place when I noticed something that has never really stood out to me before. House after house, street after street I noticed a pattern. The houses in this area were standard 1990s – 2000s stucco behemoths typical in Florida. Aside from being some of the most slapdash construction, I noticed that they all shared one design element that defied logic to me. Every one of [...] Read on →

Mission Style

Mission Style Home

In areas of the country like Florida, Texas, California and other southwestern states the Mission style, sometimes called Spanish Eclectic style, was hugely popular in the early 20th century. This style was gaining in popularity early on and after being featured at the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 it exploded in popularity. So much so that the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads designed all their stations and resorts in the Mission style during this time period. The earliest [...] Read on →

What is a First Rung Neighborhood?

Historic Neighborhood

Occasionally, I use terms on this blog some of my readers may not understand. I recently mentioned “first-rung” neighborhoods in a post and got some comments about what on earth they were. So, for everyone else who didn’t know but didn’t ask, here is your answer. How Cities Grow When areas are first settled there’s no rhyme or reason as to where houses are placed. The city grows organically, and back in the day zoning was virtually non-existent. [...] Read on →

Is Your Home Part of the “Historical Cusp?”

Ranch Style Home

I have a lot of friends and clients whose homes fall into something I like to call the Historical Cusp. They don’t live in a house of any particular historical significance, and it’s not quite old enough to have been built by hand with non-standardized materials. But it still maintains some of the characteristics I love so much about historic homes. Most of these homes were built from about 1945-1960 and they represent a large portion of our [...] Read on →

Tips For Historic Home Owners {#14 Antique Glass}

Historic Home Tips

If it’s your first time in an old house it may seem troublesome looking out the windows at the blurry images surrounding you. Generally, the older the house the more flaws and ripples you’ll find in its old windows. And despite the perfectionist in us all this glass, though old and outdated, is a rare feature that is definitely worth saving. The less there is of something the more value it has. This is a simple exercise in [...] Read on →