Greek Revival
Gothic Revival
Second Empire
Queen Anne

A Review of Victorian Architectural Styles

Among other artistic achievements, the Victorians produced wonderful works of architecture. We will look into some of the styles that architects developed from the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign in 1839 to her death in 1901. From the early Victorian period until about the time of Civil War in America, the Western World saw relatively simple styles of architecture that reflected styles of the past. There was an abundant revival of styles: Greek Revival (1825 - 1850), Gothic Revival (1840 and 1880) and a return to Renaissance forms. After the Civil War and as a result of a growing trend towards industrialism, Victorian architecture tended toward more complicated and elaborate designs. Prominent styles during this later period included Italianate (1840 - 1890), Second Empire (1855 - 1885), Stick-Eastlake (1860 - 1890), and Queen Anne (1880 - 1910). Victorians also began to paint their homes in unique colors. Cheerful pastels in pink, blue and lavender hues began showing up on the exterior of homes beginning from around the 1870s. The "Painted Ladies" in San Francisco, California and "Rainbow Row" in Charleston, South Carolina are all wonderful examples of this movement. The following are some popular Victorian styles of architecture.

Greek Revival (1825 - 1850)

During the Victorian Era, American architects looked to Ancient Greece for their inspiration. Not only had British styles begun to lose favor with prosperous Americans during the bitter War of 1812, but Greece represented democracy and liberty to a nation that had now established its independence and system of governance. Additionally, many Americans sympathized with Greece's own struggles for independence in the 1820s. Greek Revival architecture began with public buildings in Philadelphia. Many European-trained architects designed in the popular Grecian style, and the fashion spread via carpentry guides and pattern books. With its classic clapboard exterior and bold, simple lines, Greek Revival architecture became the most predominant housing style in the United States, especially in the Southern states. Colonnaded Greek Revival mansions, also called Colonial houses, were popular as plantation houses and estates. During the second half of the 19th century, Gothic Revival and Italianate styles captured the American imagination, and Grecian ideas faded from popularity. However, front-gable design--a trademark of the Greek Revival style--continued to influence the shape of American houses well into the 20th century. Greek Revival houses were usually symmetrical in shape and featured bold, simple moldings, heavy cornices, and a wide frieze (a horizontal section above a doorway or windows). Dunleith Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi is a wonderful example of a Greek Revival structure in America. The famed "Tara" in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind is also a famed Greek Revival plantation. Below are some of our favorite Greek Revival homes.

Dunleith Plantation (Natchez, Missouri)

Long Branch Estate (Millview, Virginia)

Belle Mead Plantation (Nashville, Tennessee)

Rose Hill Mansion (Geneva, New York)

Houmas House (Darrow, Louisiana)

Shadowlawn (Columbus, Mississippi)

Aiken-Rhett House (Charleston, South Carolina)

Rogers Hall (Florence, Alabama)

Gothic Revival (1840 - 1880)

Gothic Revival architecture drew upon the style of time-honored Medieval castles. This movement began in the mid 1700s, when an English author named Sir Horace Walpole decided to renovate his country home at Strawberry Hill with Gothic elements such as arched windows and battlements. By the 1800s, this style had become quite popular, and many English houses had taken the form of old churches and castles. Even Queen Victoria adored the fanciful Gothic Revival style. This style had an asymmetrical floor plan and was characterized by steep rooftops, pinnacles, parapets, leaded glass windows with decorative ornamentation, and clover-shaped windows. Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York is a wonderful example of a Gothic Revival structure in America. Below are some of our favorite Gothic Revival homes and buildings.

Lyndhurst (Tarrytown, New York)

Humewood Castle (Wicklow, Ireland)

Tyntesfield (Somerset, England)

St. Pancras Station (London, England)

Wedding Cake House (Kennebunkport, Maine)

Unnamed (Salem, Massachusetts)

Unnamed (Unknown)

Unnamed (Bath, England)

Italianate (1840 - 1890)

Italianate style homes and buildings drew from the style of country villas in the Old World. Such houses were first introduced in England as a reaction to the formal classical styles which had dominated the landscape of architecture. It was popularized in America by Andrew Jackson Downing, and quickly became so popular that it overshadowed other styles of its day. It was particularly stylish in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. Italianate architecture featured an asymmetrical floor plan. Houses in this style were usually shaped in rectangular sections to imitate the look of an Italian villa, and incorporated such decorative features as wings, towers, flat roof lines, corniced eaves, angled bay windows, Corinthian-columned porches and a square tower or cupola, sometimes referred to as "Tuscan." The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, a mansion designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is an example of the Italianate style. Below are some of our favorite Italianate homes.

The Breakers (Newport, Rhode Island)

John Denham House (Monticello, Florida)

Southern Mansion (Cape May, New Jersey)

Delano Inn (Allegan, Michigan)

Victorian Mansion Inn (Galena, Illinois)

Ryan Mansion Guest House (Galena, Illinois)

Bishop's House Inn (Davenport, Iowa)

McCall House (Ashland, Oregon)

Second Empire (1855 - 1885)

Second Empire (also called Mansard style) buildings with tall mansard roofs were modeled after the the opulent architecture of Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. French architects used the term horror vacui-- the fear of unadorned surfaces--to describe the highly ornamented Second Empire style. Second Empire buildings were also practical: their height allowed for additional living space on narrow city lots. They were characterized by a high, mansard roof with a curved profile; rounded cornices at roof; long, dormer windows; and elaborate moldings and brackets. Second Empire homes often featured a central hall plan, and an asymmetrical arrangement of rooms and porches. These homes also frequently incorporated a a cupola (dome-shaped structure) on the roof, wrought iron cresting, paired columns and classical pediments. In the United States, government buildings in the Second Empire style resembled the elaborate French designs. Private homes, however, often had an Italianate flavor, being both square in shape, and having U-shaped window crowns, decorative brackets, and single story porches. However, Italianate houses have much wider eaves, and do not have the distinctive mansard roof characteristic of the Second Empire style. The ornate Second Empire home was the style of house featured in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho." The Harry Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is an example of the Second Empire style. Below are some of our favorite Second Empire homes.

Harry Packer Mansion (Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania)

Valley Knudsen Residence (Los Angeles, California)

Sternburg House (Buffalo, New York)

Chillion M. Farrar House (Buffalo, New York)

David Davis Mansion (Bloomington, Illinois)

Unnamed (Branford, Connecticut)

August Feine House (Buffalo, New York)

Glanmore (Belleville, Ontario)

Glen Gardner Home (Belleville, Ontario)

Unnamed (Mallorytown, Ontario)

Unnamed (Paris, Ontario)

Unnamed (Simcoe, Ontario)

Stick-Eastlake (1860 - 1890)

Stick-Eastlake structures were plain, simple and relatively modern. Because they lacked the ornamentation of other styles like Queen Anne house, they did not last long during an era which delighted in fanciful adornments. Stick houses were characterized by a large, ornamental truss under the gable eaves of a house, and often included square bays, flat roof lines and free-style decorations. They focused their attention patterns and lines. Eastlake houses were so called after British furniture designer Charles Eastlake and featured more decoration. The two styles merged to be called "Stick-Eastlake." The Parrott Camp Soucy House in Newnan, Georgia is an example of an elaborate Stick-Eastlake house. Below are some of our favorite Stick-Eastlake homes.

Parrott Camp Soucy House (Newnan, Georgia)

McConaughy House (San Diego, California)

Sherman-Gilbert House (San Diego, California)

Samuel H. Cook House (New Bedford, Massachusetts)

Biederbecke Mansion (Davenport, Iowa)

Unnamed (San Francisco, California)

Charles Dietle House (San Francisco, California)

The Hinds House (Santa Cruz, California)

Queen Anne (1870 - 1910)

Perhaps most frequently recognized as Victorian, Queen Anne style homes had gabled roofs, shingles, angled bay windows and sometimes a turret (or tower). The Queen Anne style of period house lasted for the second half of the 19th century, from 1860 until 1900. It has no real connection with the architecture of Queen Anne herself who reigned from 1702 to 1714. The style reached its height of popularity during the 1890s. Its open, spacious porch was one of its most striking features. By the end of the 19th century, most well-to-do Queen Anne homes in the United States featured classic Victorian porches adorned with gingerbread trim, brackets, ornate spindels and spandrels, intricate sawn-wood balusters, fluted columns, or turned and painted posts. Some families also added cupolas or gazebos to their property. Perhaps the most famous Queen Anne house is the Carson Mansion in Eureka, California. Below are some of our favorite Queen Anne homes.

Carson Mansion (Eureka, California)

Hellman Guest House (Galena, Illinois)

Queen Anne Guest House (Galena, Illinois)

Park Avenue Guest House (Galena, Illinois)

The Grand Anne (Keokuk, Iowa)

Lewis House (Shreveport, Louisiana)

Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House (Fort Worth, Texas)

Grand Victorian Inn (Bellaire, Michigan)

The Gingerbread Mansion (Ferndale, California)

The Ray Home (Gallatin, Missouri)

Angel of the Sea (Cape May, New Jersey)

Unnamed (New Westminster, British Columbia)