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Victorian – Eastlake, Folk, Queen Anne, Second Empire, Shingle, Stick


Victorian – Eastlake, Folk, Queen Anne, Second Empire, Shingle, Stick

• Eastlake

These fanciful Victorian houses are lavished with Eastlake style spindle work.


This colorful Victorian home is a Queen Anne, but the lacy, ornamental details are called Eastlake. The ornamental style is named after the famous English designer, Charles Eastlake, who was famous for making furniture decorated with fancy spindles.

Eastlake details can be found on a variety of Victorian house styles. Some of the more fanciful Stick Style Victorians have Eastlake buttons and knobs combined with the angular stick work.


• Folk Victorian

As the industrial age made machine-cut wood details affordable and available to the average American, homeowners added mass-produced decorative trim (called gingerbread) to their small, simple folk cottages to dress them up in the style of the day.

Features Include:

  • Square, symmetrical, simple shape
  • Brackets under the eaves
  • Porches with spindle work or flat, jigsaw cut trim
  • Carpenter Gothic details
  • Low-pitched, pyramid shaped roof
  • Front gable and side wings


Life was simple before the age of railroads. In the vast, remote stretches of North America, families built no-fuss, square or L-shaped houses in the National or Folk style. But the rise of industrialization made it easier and more affordable to add decorative details to otherwise simple homes. Decorative architectural trim could be mass-produced. As the railroads expanded, factory-made building parts could be sent to far corners of the continent.

Also, small towns could now obtain sophisticated woodworking machinery. A crate of scrolled brackets might find its way to Kansas or Wyoming, where carpenters could mix and match the pieces according to personal whim... Or, according to what happened to be in the latest shipment.

Many Folk Victorian houses were adorned with flat, jigsaw cut trim in a variety of patterns. Others had spindles, gingerbread and details borrowed from the Carpenter Gothic style. With their spindles and porches, some Folk Victorian homes may suggest Queen Anne architecture. But unlike Queen Anne’s, Folk Victorian houses are orderly and symmetrical houses. They do not have towers, bay windows, or elaborate moldings.


• Queen Anne

Of all the Victorian house styles, Queen Anne is the most elaborate and the most eccentric. The style is often called romantic and feminine, yet it is the product of a most unromantic era -- the machine age.

Features Include:

  • Steep roof
  • Complicated, asymmetrical shape with intersecting roof lines
  • Front-facing gable
  • One-story porch that extends across one or two sides of the house
  • Round turrets or square towers
  • Wall surfaces textured with decorative shingles, patterned masonry, or half-timbering
  • Ornamental spindles and brackets
  • Bay windows


Queen Anne became an architectural fashion in the 1880s and 1890s, when the industrial revolution was building up steam. North America was caught up in the excitement of new technologies. Factory-made, pre-cut architectural parts were shuttled across the country on a rapidly expanding train network. Exuberant builders combined these pieces to create innovative, and sometimes excessive, homes.

Also, widely published pattern books touted spindles and towers and other flourishes we associate with Queen Anne architecture. Country folk yearned for fancy city trappings. Wealthy industrialists pulled out all stops as they built lavish "castles" using Queen Anne ideas.

Although easy to spot, America's Queen Anne style is difficult to define. Some Queen Anne houses are lavished with gingerbread, but some are made of brick or stone. Many have turrets, but this crowning touch is not necessary to make a house a queen. So, what is Queen Anne?

Fanciful and flamboyant, America's Queen Anne architecture takes on many shapes. Some Queen Anne houses are lavishly decorated. Others are restrained in their embellishments. Yet the flashy painted ladies of San Francisco and the refined Brooklyn brownstones share many of the same features. There is an element of surprise to the typical Queen Anne home. The roof is steeply pitched and irregular. The overall shape of the house is asymmetrical.


• Second Empire

With tall mansard roofs and wrought iron cresting, Second Empire homes are inspired by the opulent architecture of France during the reign of Napoleon III.

Features Include:

  • Mansard roof
  • Dormer windows project like eyebrows from roof
  • Rounded cornices at top and base of roof
  • Brackets beneath the eaves, balconies, and bay windows
  • Cupola
  • Patterned slate on roof
  • Wrought iron cresting above upper cornice
  • Classical pediments
  • Paired columns
  • Tall windows on first story
  • Small entry porch


At first glance, you might mistake a Second Empire home for a Victorian Italianate. Both styles tend to be square in shape, and both can have U-shaped window crowns, decorative brackets, and single story porches. But, Italianate houses have much wider eaves, and they do not have the distinctive mansard roof characteristic of the Second Empire style.

The dramatic roof is the most important feature of Second Empire architecture, and has a long and interesting history.

Because it was based on a contemporary movement in Paris, Americans considered the Second Empire style more progressive than Greek Revival or Gothic Revival architecture. Builders began to construct elaborate public buildings that resembled French designs.

The first important Second Empire building in America was the Cocoran Gallery (later renamed the Renwick Gallery) in Washington, DC by James Renwick.

The tallest Second Empire building in the USA was the Philadelphia City Hall, designed by John McArthur Jr. and Thomas U. Walter. After it was completed in 1901, the soaring tower made Philadelphia's City Hall the world's tallest building. The building held top ranking for several years.


• Shingle Style

Rambling and asymmetrical Shingle Style homes became popular along North America's Atlantic coast.

Features Include:

  • Continuous wood shingles on siding and roof
  • Irregular roof line
  • Cross gables
  • Eaves on several levels
  • Porches
  • Asymmetrical floor plan


Architects rebelled against Victorian fussiness when they designed rustic Shingle Style homes, popular in the Northeastern United States between 1874 and 1910.

A shingled home does not stand on ceremony. It blends into the landscape of wooded lots. Wide, shady porches encourage lazy afternoons in rocking chairs. The roughhewn siding and the rambling shape suggest that the house was thrown together without fuss or fanfare.

In Victorian days, shingles were often used as ornamentation on houses on Queen Anne and other highly decorated styles. But Henry Hobson Richardson, Charles McKim, Stanford White, and even Frank Lloyd Wright began to experiment with shingle siding.

The architects used natural colors and informal compositions to suggest the rustic homes of New England settlers. By covering most or all of a building with shingles stained a single color, architects created an uniform, unembellished surface. Mono-toned and unornamented, these homes celebrated the honesty of form, the purity of line.

Shingle Style homes can take on many forms. Some have tall turrets, suggestive of Queen Anne architecture. Some have gambrel roofs, Palladian windows, and other Colonial details. Some have features borrowed from TudorGothic Revival, and Stick styles.


• Stick

Stick Style Victorian houses have exposed trusses, "stickwork," and other details borrowed from the middle ages.

Features Include:

  • Rectangular shape
  • Wood siding
  • Steep, gabled roof
  • Overhanging eaves
  • Ornamental trusses (gable braces)
  • Decorative braces and brackets
  • Decorative half-timbering
  • Jerkinhead dormers


The most important features of Stick Style houses are on the exterior wall surfaces. Instead of three-dimensional ornamentation, the emphasis is on patterns and lines. Because the decorative details are flat, they are often lost when homeowners remodel. If the decorative stick work is covered up with vinyl siding or painted a single solid color, a Stick Style Victorian may appear plain and rather ordinary.

The Palliser Company, which published many plan books during the Victorian era, called stick architecture plain yet neatmodern, and comfortable. However, Stick was a short-lived fashion. The angular and austere style couldn't compete with the fancy Queen Annes that took America by storm. Some Stick architecture did dress up in fancy Eastlake spindles and Queen Anne flourishes. But very few authentic Stick Style homes remain intact.


Last modified on Thursday, 04 August 2016 04:28
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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