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Features Include:

  • Low-pitched or flat roof
  • Balanced, symmetrical rectangular shape
  • Tall appearance, with 2, 3, or 4 stories
  • Wide, overhanging eaves with brackets and cornices
  • Square cupola
  • Porch topped with balustraded balconies
  • Tall, narrow, 1-over-1 or 2-over-2 double-hung windows with hood moldings or elaborate crowns
  • Side bay window
  • Heavily molded double entryway doors with glass
  • Roman or segmented arches above windows and doors

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The Italianate style began in England with the picturesque movement of the 1840s. For the previous 200 years, English homes tended to be formal and classical in style. With the picturesque, movement, however, builders began to design fanciful recreations of Italian Renaissance villas. When the Italianate style moved to the United States, it was reinterpreted again to create a uniquely American style.

During the Victorian era, emerging styles captured a large audience via widely published house pattern books packed with building plans and home building advice. Prominent designers and illustrators such as A.J. Downing, Calvert Vaux, and Alexander Jackson Davis published many plans for Italianate style homes. By the late 1860s, the fashion had swept through North America.

Why Builders Loved the Italianate Style:

Italianate architecture knew no class boundaries. The high square towers made the style a natural choice for upscale homes of the newly rich. However the brackets and other architecture details, made affordable by new methods for machine production, were easily applied to simple cottages.

Historians say that Italianate became the favored style for two reasons:

Italianate homes could be constructed with many different building materials, and the style could be adapted to modest budgets.

New technologies of the Victorian era made it possible to quickly and affordably produce cast-iron and press-metal decorations.

Italianate remained the preferred house style in the USA until the 1870s. Italianate was also a common style for modest structures like barns and for larger public buildings such as town halls, libraries, and train stations. You will find Italianate buildings in nearly every part of the United States except for the deep South. There are fewer Italianate buildings in the southern states because the style reached its peak during the Civil War, a time when the south was economically devastated.

After the 1870s, architectural fashion turned toward late Victorian styles such as Queen Anne.



McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide To American Houses. New York, Alfred A. Knopf: 1984.
“House Styles, Picture Dictionary of Houses in North America and Beyond” About .com. Mar 1 2013 <>
Architectural Style Wikipedia. Mar 1 2013. <>



Last modified on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 05:36
Mark Smith

Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and my design company is located in Stevensville, Michigan where I reside with my wife and two children. 


Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Mark Smith and I reside in Stevensville, Michigan my wife and two children. I have been interested in Architecture since my boyhood days; however, because of my families business—a lumberyard—I never really got a chance to pursue my dream until later in my career. Read more...


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