What Style Is My Old House?

There are so many different architectural styles that dot the landscape of America. And knowing what style your old home is can tell you a lot about its history and how to renovate it properly.

Each architectural style has its own unique characteristics that set it apart from the rest. Knowing these defining characteristics and how to tell one style apart from another is key. So, I assembled this page for anyone who isn’t sure what kind of house they are looking at. I’ll walk you through some of the most popular architectural styles and give you a thorough breakdown of each.

I’m always adding more to this page, so if you don’t see a particular style you want to know about contact me and I’ll add a post about it soon enough.

 

Architectural Styles of America

Gamble HouseAmerican Craftsman – This is one of my favorites styles. Craftsman Bungalows were a big hit in America from 1905-1930. Their humble stance and return to building with natural materials set them apart from other styles. Exposed rafters, natural unpainted wood and extraordinary craftsmanship made these homes incredibly unique. Read more…

 

 

 

 

American Foursquare – The simple a easily adaptable Foursquare was the perfect house to fit the most space into the small city lots from the 1890s-1930s. It received its name from its perfectly square shape and massing of four rooms per floor most times. These houses could be as plain or ornate as as the owner wished and their skins were any range of components like brick, stone, stucco, shingles, clapboards. Read more…

 

 

 

Poyntz-O’Neal House (1887)American Queen Anne – Only the grandest homes of this period were Queen Annes. The simpler expressions of this style fall into the Folk Victorian category. Intricate detailing and ginger breading, showy paint schemes all encompass the style that swept the nation from 1870-1900. The machine age was in full swing and the railroads carried huge new inventories of new materials and patterns available for homes of this time. Read more…

 

 

 

Brick Colonial RevivalColonial Revival - One of the longest lived and heavily varied architectural styles in the country. From 1876 – 1955 this style appeared in neighborhoods across the country in varieties like the Classic Box, Dutch Colonial Revival, Brick veneer, clapboard, etc. The variety is vast and so is the popularity of this home. Read more…

 

 

 

 

Cross Gabled Folk VictorianFolk Victorian – Popular the same time as Queen Annes, but even more popular. These were the “everyman” version of the fanciful painted lady Queen Annes. Simple designs with as much colorful detailing as the owner could afford at the time. These houses were often beautiful in their utilitarian simplicity. Read more…

 

 

 

 

Gothic FarmhouseGothic Revival – 1840-1870 was a turbulent time in our nation. The civil war was raging through the later part of this period and the new nation was struggling with it’s identity. The Gothic Revival style though not the most popular style of it’s time was very popular in farmhouses across the country. Think steeply pitched roofs with ornate bargeboards on the gable ends. Read more…

 

 

 

White HouseGreek Revival – America had just celebrated its 50th birthday when the Greek Revival style came into popularity. Our country embraced the original birthplace of democracy and the style spread throughout the entire country until finally giving way to the Queen Anne style in the 1860s. The proud pediments and ionic, dorian and corinthian pillars on these homes usually make them easy to spot. Read more…

 

 

 

Mission Style Home

Mission Style – In the early 20th century Americans in the southwest, Florida, and Texas got a renewed interest in the Spanish style buildings and techniques that had preceded their presence in the land. Natural colors, bright red clay tile roofs and stucco walls brought together in a nod to spanish style and architecture spread quickly throughout the area in the Spanish and Mission styles. Read more… 

 

 

 

Half Timbered TudorTudor Revival – America once again embraced its English roots architecturally speaking between 1890-1940 when the Tudor style burst back onto the scene. The unique half-timbering and steep roof pitches set these homes apart. Whether they are stone, brick or timber they are beautiful all the same. Read more…

 

 

 

 

If you’d like even more detailed information about any and every form of architecture from Teepees to Log houses I recommend the book A Field Guide to American Houses. This book is an invaluable resource that sits prominently on my bookshelf. It not only has the specifics of each style but also includes hundreds of pictures to help you get acquainted with them.

12 comments

  1. Jim Settle on said:

    You don’t seem to mention the American Foursquare style popular from about 1890 to 1930? We have tons of them here in Omaha, and I am getting ready to restore one that we are purchasing. It’s also a popular kit home. I enjoy your blog and agree with most of what you post. Thanks!

    • Thanks Jim! I am continually adding architectural styles to the list. Actually American Foursquare is next on my list to write on. One of my favs too!

  2. Marcos Padilla on said:

    I have a huge craftsman home. But the exterior is plaster and stone but the inside is all craftsman. I don’t know what it is called. I have heard everything from Ventian Craftsman to English Craftsman, etc.

  3. Sherri Mize on said:

    My husband and I are looking to restore a 1846- 1850 Antabella home. We want to keep original as much as possible. It was used as a field house(according to my husband)When they were planting the fields they used the house. His family, used it as a summer house. the house is in Alabama. I seen a lot in Ms.and Ga. but not many in Alabama.

    • Very cool Sherri! Best of luck with the project.

  4. Val on said:

    I am looking into a 1914 Florida Cracker Farmhouse! Just wondering if you have any information? Thanks!

    • Don’t have anything posted about Florida Cracker houses right now but I definitely should. They are a very cool style!

  5. Monica on said:

    Is there something similar to the American Foursquare that is rectangular? I’ve never been able to figure out what style my house is. Built in 1925, tons of woodwork and built ins make the inside feel craftsman but the outside looks a lot like the Foursquare. 2 1/2 story with dormers, pyramid roof, offset front porch that only gets you in the door; it is not the full length of the house.

    • It sounds like a Foursquare Monica. There are plenty of variations and your rectangular one may be one.

      • Monica on said:

        Thanks Scott! In a neighborhood full of bungalows it sure stands out.

          • Dan on said:

            I have a similar problem; my house was built in 1912, is rectangular on a narrow city lot in an old industrial town in Indiana. It is 2 story, no dormers, a small porch that encloses the front entrance only, lots of woodwork inside which was painted over downstairs and left original upstairs. It has quite a steep roof which is pyramidal north to south, and east to west sides. It makes me think Folk Victorian and sadly, was aluminum sided in the 1970’s with the porch bannisters replaced with vinyl so I don’t know if it ever had the ornate woodwork of the original. I see many homes in this community with this type of layout, some definitely Folk Victorian.

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