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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

American 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…

Gamble House

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…

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…

Poyntz-O’Neal House (1887)

Colonial 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…

Brick Colonial Revival

Folk Victorian – Popular the same time as Queen Annes, but even more popular. These were the “everyman” version of the fanciful painted lady Queen Annes. They had 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…

Cross Gabled Folk Victorian

Gothic 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 its 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…

Gothic Farmhouse

Greek 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…

White House

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… 

Mission Style Home

Tudor 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…

Half Timbered Tudor

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.

Subscribe Now For Your FREE eBook!

72 thoughts on “What Style Is My Old House?

  1. Hi! I have a Real Photo Postcard (about 1910’s, location unknown) of a house and I’m lost on the style type: Some type of 2-story, stick built house with horizontal wooden siding; the entrance and front porch are on the second level – as you’re facing the house you’d walk up 5 steps and go left up another 11 steps, turn right and you’re walking on the covered porch to the front door. The roof seems like a pyramid hipped roof but with sort of a dormer that has a small square-ish window and this dormer is on the far left of the house, flush with the front of the house, so maybe that makes it not a dormer? Underneath the dormer is rather a fancy second story window – 3 panels and the center panel is rounded at the top. The chimney was in the back, and there’s a ground floor back porch, a very plain pillar showing (maybe it was a small porch and not running the entire back length of the house). The front porch pillars (3) are decorative, rounded off in middle, squared of at both ends. Both porches are shallow. Eaves all around the house, but not extremely deep. I’m thinking like a Folk Victorian? But that front long L shaped staircase seems unusual. Do you also know whether the kitchen would be on the ground floor? I’d hate to have to haul up groceries or a side of beef (haha) to the upstairs. Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. Hello, I am trying to find out the building style of my home, and I can’t find it in any guide. Built in 1920, 2 story brick, full half raised basement with french drain windows, stone around the foundation. Enclosed porch on half of the front. Long single gabled window on front and back of the pitched roof. Had a fire place on the back wall. Has outside entrance to the basement via a cement stairwell that runs along the back wall and ends next to the back door steps.

    1. Hi Christina, Your home sounds similar to mine and I’m trying to find out what type it is also. We purchased it in 1991 and the deed said it was 99+ years old. Did you happen to find out what kind yours was? I am needing to choose an accent color for some floral cut work below the roof and above the front door and windows, and possibly for the wooden brackets. Any ideas where I can look for input since you had been inquiring yourself?

  3. Hello,
    I am trying find if my quaint and charming little home might be a Craftsman.

    80% of the homes in “my area” (Normal Hill) are Craftsmen.

    I have looked at many Craftsman homes on line but can not find mine.

    When I moved into my home in 2013 an older gentleman, man on my street, told me my home was a “Victorian Shake” Craftsmen home. (It does have shake siding but looks nothing like any “Victorian” style I have seen.)

    I did check with the city and all I could find was when “area” was purchased for “housing “ in 1898. My lot was purchased in 1926 and my home built in 1928.

    I HAVE FOUND, in my research, photos of Craftsmen living rooms which are identical to mine.

    Here is a tweak. My house has a small, very vintage apartment, in the basement. Many of the homes in a 6 block area have basements with apartments as a small college is within this distance and there was very little “on housing” at the campus.

    My house/apartment (I do NOT rent.) is in excellent condition. Beautiful hardwood floors…built in cabinets, etc. 2 bedroom 1 bath, dining and living room, kitchen with a fireplace upstairs and one in the apartment. (In addition to the small apartment in the basement there is a generous area for furnace and laundry…storage.)

    Is there a way I can send you a picture?

    Thank you,

  4. I am wondering what style my house is. It was built in 1920, and the layout is similar to a foursquare. The roof structure is very different, with three recessed arch gables on the three public facing sides. The gables come down to about the middle of the second story. However, the 3 recessed arch gables are unlike anything I have seen elsewhere. I’ve seen small recessed arch gables, but never these giant ones.

  5. I’ve lived in two similar houses and the style I’ve seen closest to it is Folk Gothic Box though I haven’t seen a floor layout of this style to compare. Our current house dates between 1860 to 1890 in rural northwestern Ohio and is native timber and fired limestone foundation, with hand hewn beams and saw mill cut boards. The other house was block walls and plaster, nice and thick. Both of these houses have a wall down the center that kind of zigzags, two rooms upstairs, and similar first floors (though our current house was renovated and the layout altered). Most of the character was probably gone/destroyed before the flippers did their thing, but they made the layout kind of awkward with some of their updates, plus it has no porch and they put in new windows and doors. I’m trying to make it work/look better. We found out the other house is going to be torn down in the next couple weeks. 🙁

  6. I am currently redoing my kitchen floor and I’m wondering if the floor I chose for my folk Victorian home is correct!.. it’s called Deco by mannington flooring. Wish I could post a picture!

    1. I looked it up. This design and look appears to be a replica/copy of Cuban tile, which is encaustic tile. Look up CubanTropicalTile.com, the website of a company based in Miami. And then look up a book called Havana Interiors and you’ll see some pictures that are very interesting. So…it is Spanish, not really that close to folk/Victorian, if I’m looking at the right pic online for Deco by Mannington. However, it might work. I think the Cuban tile usually looks best with a good-sized baseboard to define it. And it’s often best with a border, or if there’s tile coming up the walls.

  7. Care to take a stab at the architectural style of our home? We are in the midst of prep work for the renovation of our home but have very little information about the style of our home. Original house was built in the late 1800’s in cassadaga(which you can view on our blog) then later rebuilt in New smyrna around 1916 after the original burned down. Very little interior character left due to numerous poor remodels. Mainly curious to find another house like it to be honest.

    You can view pictures on our blog at http://www.jeremyandsomersforeverhome.com

  8. Hi Mr. Scott Sidler

    I will be soon owning a home here in Yazoo City, Ms. This house was built in 1905. I want to send you pic to your email. I’m so excited and really want to know about this house history. It has an walk thru attic, no basement. Stands on bricks that skirts the bottom all around. Walk around porch on one side. Not a full walk around on both sides. The roof is said to be slate.,,is this the same as calling it asbestos roof?

  9. My home in Waco was built in 1905. 7 or 8 blocks away are all beautiful foursquare homes. If the train tracks ran perpendicular, I’d say we live on the other side of the tracks! Downstairs has a middle hallway with one bedroom and the kitchen to the left and the living room and dining room to the right. There are french doors to enter both the living and dining rooms from the hall and an archway between the living & dining rooms, with original built-in on both sides of the archway. Upstairs there are two bedrooms with dormers to the front. The “attic” has entrances from the second floor closets…on the same level. Also interesting, the original hardwood floors remain, and they are consistently 2″ throughout the house, whereas I’m accustomed to seeing 2″ floorboards in the hall and living areas, where guests would be, then wider ones of maybe a cheaper wood in the bedrooms. From the front, it looks like a Cape Cod to me, with symmetrical windows up and down, and no hint of a porch or how one could have originally been laid out. It seems to be a very utilitarian house. I love the foursquare homes, but I love that I have one third of the mortgage! I even checked the original papers, as I thought the date was possibly wrong, but it says 1905 in handwriting and in typed font.
    Please give me some idea of what style this maybe umbrellaed under. Thank you!

  10. Hi Scott,
    Im trying to find out what style home I have. It seems that it was a foursquare, except it has a steep roof, not hipped. The roof peak is in the middle, facing the house, above 2nd floor. It has a great front porch. My neighbor says its just an old farmhouse, but the roofline is simple. Previous owners have removed and renovated so much, finding clues are difficult. Thanks for any help. We live in northeast pa.

  11. I would love to get an email to send a pic of my home built in 1939 to see what style home it is. Where could I send a pic to?

  12. We live in a home built in 1890 (we think) which I’d describe as Folk Victorian, although it does have a bay window with a pediment. But it has a hipped roof, which I believe may be the original roofline. I’ve seen pictures of another home here in South Central Texas with a similar exterior (although obviously a larger home) which also has a hipped roof. Does this indicate anything style-wise?

  13. I’m looking to purchase a two story home. Is there an email I could send pictures to to determine what style this house is?
    Thank you

  14. Hello my family and I are looking at buying and restoring a home that was built in 1948 my question is this home is shaped like a T . It’s completely gutted on the inside and no one knows anything about it. I am looking for potential photos of homes like it but haven’t found anything that looks anywhere close to the shape. I only have one photo and it’s of the front of the home.

  15. Hello,

    I’m trying to figure out what type of house I have. I always thought that it was a foursquare, but after looking at pictures of other foursquares on the Internet I’m not sure. It definitely has a mostly square shape, but not the typical pyramid roof style. I also looked at common floor plans for foursquares and while some were similar, most of them seemed smaller in size and lacking the additional front room (parlor?). It was built in the Midwest in the 1890s.

    Here is a picture of the house from a previous owner in the 1980s I believe… https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-Rr_MA_RUY8VEZXeTZocTVWTFE/view?usp=drivesdk

    Here’s a more recent picture of it right after we bought it, seen from a different angle…

    Is this still considered a foursquare home?

    Thank you

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