Queen Anne Style Buildings in America Came Into Vogue in the 1880s
A sub-style of the late
Victorian era, Queen Anne is a collection of coquettish detailing and eclectic materials. Steep
cross-gabled roofs, towers, and vertical windows are all typical of a Queen Anne home. Inventive, multistory floor plans often include projecting wings, several porches and balconies, and multiple chimneys with decorative
Wooden “gingerbread” trim in scrolled and rounded “fish-scale” patterns frequently graces gables and porches. Massive cut stone foundations are typical of period houses. Created by English architect Richard Norman Shaw, the style was popularized after the Civil War by architect Henry Hobson Richardson and spread rapidly, especially in the South and West.
In America, the so-called Queen Anne style of architecture, furniture and decorative arts was popular in the United States from 1880 to 1910. American "Queen Anne" is loosely used of a wide range of picturesque buildings with "free Renaissance" (non-Gothic Revival) details rather than of a specific formulaic style in its own right.
The Queen Anne House: America's Victorian Vernacular
- These Queen Anne houses are debatably the most picturesque and charming of all the Victorian styles. In this first published book about American Queen Anne architecture, renowned preservationist Janet W. Foster acquaints the reader with an insightful look at this house style's’ position in American history architecture. Constructed all across the nation during the late part of 19th century (The Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI, a classic example of this style), Foster delves into the distinguishing aspects with the Queen Anne style as she analyzes 21 famous homes, a large parte of them unable to bee seen by the general public and never published before.
American Queen Anne Style
Queen Anne Style buildings in America came into vogue in the 1880s, replacing the French-derived Second Empire as the "style of the moment." The popularity of high Queen Anne Style waned in the early 1900s, but some elements, such as the wraparound front porch, continued to be found on buildings into the 1920s.
The "Queen Anne" style arrived in New York with the new housing for the New York House and School of Industry (Sidney V. Stratton, architect, 1878) at 120 West 16th Street. Gabled and domestically scaled, it is of warm, soft brick enclosing some square terracotta panels, with an arched side passage leading to an inner court and back house; its detailing is largely confined to the treatment of its picturesquely-disposed windows, with small-paned upper sashes and plate glass lower ones. There are triple windows of Serlian motif and a two-storey oriel that projects asymmetrically.
E. Francis Baldwin's stations for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, built variously of brick and wood, are also familiar examples of the style.
The most famous American Queen Anne residence (see photo left) is the William M. Carson Mansion of Eureka, California. Newsom and Newsom, notable builder-architects of 19th Century California homes and public buildings, designed and constructed (1884–1886) this 18-room home for one of California's first lumber barons. All styles described below as well as others are present in this example of American Queen Anne Style.
Distinctive features of American Queen Anne style (rooted in the English style) may include an asymmetrical facade; dominant front-facing gable, often cantilevered out beyond the plane of the wall below; overhanging eaves; round, square, or polygonal tower(s); shaped and Dutch gables; a porch covering part or all of the front facade, including the primary entrance area; a second-story porch or balconies; pedimented porches; differing wall textures, such as patterned wood shingles shaped into varying designs, including resembling fish scales, terra cotta tiles, relief panels, or wooden shingles over brickwork, etc; dentils; classical columns; spindle work; oriel and bay windows; horizontal bands of leaded windows; monumental chimneys; painted balustrades; and wooden or slate roofs. Front gardens often had wooden fences.
Within the American Queen Anne Style, there are also the broad Stick, Eastlake, and Shingle Styles:
The Stick style sought to bring a translation of the balloon framing used in houses in the era by alluding to them through plain trim boards, soffits, aprons, and other decorative features, while eliminating overtly ornate features such as rounded towers and gingerbread trim. Maximum picturesque value could be achieved within the means of a house-carpenter equipped with a woodturning lathe. Recognizably "Queen Anne" details: interpenetrating roof planes with bold panelled brick chimneys, the embedded corner tower (rendered as an octagon) with its conical roof, the wrap-around porch, spindle detailing, the "panelled" sectioning of blank wall, crown detailing along the roof peaks, radiating spindle details at the gable peaks.
The home of President Warren G. Harding (Harding Home) in Marion, Ohio, is another example of stick style architecture. The porch (which is best known as the home of the Front Porch Campaign of 1920) was designed by architect Frank Packard and built onto the house is neo-classical in style, while influenced by the Queen Anne era in that it wraps around the house. Highly stylized and decorative versions of the Stick style are often referred to as Eastlake.
The Eastlake Style is named for Charles Eastlake (1836–1906), an Englishman whose Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details (1868) was highly influential in American design, by translating John Ruskin and William Morris' ideas into a decorative vocabulary for the carpenter and builder. The Eastlake style's importance is delineated by the use of geometric shapes made possible by modern machine techniques of the era. By making these intricate shapes with machines, it was possible to duplicate the exact complex patterns repeatedly, and in unusual places, such as the inside plates of a hinge. Eastlake himself always emphasized "simple, elegant motifs" rather than the florid decorative excesses of high Victorian style, and the majority of the items labeled "Eastlake" appalled him, as he frequently wrote during his lifetime. This is particularly evident in the United States, where basic Eastlake motifs were usually multiplied into a dizzying geometric mandala of Victorian intricacy.
As the 20th century approached, there was then a revival of old forms in furniture under the name of the Queen Anne, although frequently spoken of by dealers, with absurd anachronism, as the Early English. While the articles made according to Eastlake's instructions may be considered a reform, and the Neo-Jacobean a fashion, the revival of the Queen Anne seems to have sufficiently positive features to be regarded as a style. This revival is said to be the work of that knot of poets and artists and connoisseurs of bric-a-brac, at whose head stand Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris, and the traces of Italian fancy and English quaintness combined in it declare that it might have been their work if it is not.
Its introduction was associated with a revival of Queen Anne forms in architecture, such as the somewhat Dutch character of country house with red brick trimmings and curved gables, to be found in the latter years of William and Mary, qualified by new invention and modern taste. Of course it met with opposition and criticism; for it seemed to have sprung into notice full grown, not like a growth answering a need, but like a surprise. Animated discussions concerning its merits and demerits, displaying equal acrimony and ignorance, took place in the meetings of the architects and others interested in such things, various voices declaring that nobody would credit Queen Anne's epoch with any style at all, and that if the epoch had a style, it was not this; that this was a mongrel, violating classic rules while pretending to be a form of classic, and yet really not unsuited to Gothic surroundings; and that, being an attempt to unite the truthfulness, variety, and picturesqueness of the Gothic with the common sense of the Italian, it should be called the Free Classic, for it was in reality only a Renaissance, less strict and refined that the old Renaissance. A writer in The Builder said: "We are now offered in some quarters the revival of the furniture of the Queen Anne and Georgina Period, of which Chippendale and Sheraton were the leading makers. This type of furniture revels in curved lines and surfaces really unsuitable, as we have before said, to wood construction and which, in fact, seem designed to create difficulties of execution in order to overcome them." But it is not all this bombe furniture referred to, with its curved lines and surfaces, that was chosen for the archetype of the new Queen Anne. It is true that Chippendale and Sheraton produced such designs, but they also, as we have seen, produced others more characteristic of themselves and of the period. The first portion of Chippendale's One Hundred and Sixty Plates has examples of the rolling abominations of the Rococo, but the rest is a collection of simple and rather elegant shapes; and what resemblance there is between the Chippendale furniture and the Queen Anne is confined to the latter portion of his illustrations and the articles manufactured from those designs
The revived Queen Anne and that which was purely home bred and national of the original style, revels in no curves whatever but is severely square and straight. Its lines are a rebound from the curves of two centuries. All of its articles stand well off the floor, upon strong supports, the construction perfectly apparent, the corners sharp, the panels many and small; it carries much plate glass, cut always with a deep bevel, and it has a great deal of carving in the face, that is, in such relief, of the conventional forms of fruit, flowers, foliage, birds, and animals, and their idealized suggestions; it uses but little metal in its heavy articles, but illuminates itself with numberless small and precious mirrors, with brass sconces and candelabra, and with rare china, and its mantelpieces overflow with sculptured beauty of column and capital and frieze. Some of the choicer traits of the Elizabethan occasionally appear in the carving of the cabinets; there is even a hint of the Louis Quinze in the long reedy legs that now and then uphold some light square object. Generally it was thoroughly eclectic, and if there was the least reminiscence of the Gothic in the tops of sideboards, buffets, and cabinets, there was also a general character of the Louis Quinze throughout the whole. But the style has struck the beauty loving eye wherever it has been seen. The Queen Anne was perhaps the most satisfactory American domestic furniture, being reasonable and sufficiently beautiful. It is quaint and picturesque, and has the simplicity and quietness of old work, without architectural pretension.
The Shingle Style in America was made popular by the rise of the New England school of architecture, which eschewed the highly ornamented patterns of the Eastlake style. In the Shingle Style, English influence was combined with the renewed interest in Colonial American architecture which followed the 1876 celebration of the Centennial. Architects emulated colonial houses' plain, shingled surfaces as well as their massing, whether in the simple gable of McKim Mead and White's Low House or in the complex massing of Kragsyde, which looked almost as if a colonial house had been fancifully expanded over many years. This impression of the passage of time was enhanced by the use of shingles. Some architects, in order to attain a weathered look on a new building, even had the cedar shakes dipped in buttermilk, dried and then installed, to leave a grayish tinge to the façade.
The Shingle Style also conveyed a sense of the house as continuous volume. This effect—of the building as an envelope of space, rather than a great mass, was enhanced by the visual tautness of the flat shingled surfaces, the horizontal shape of many shingle style houses, and the emphasis on horizontal continuity, both in exterior details and in the flow of spaces within the houses.
McKim, Mead and White and Peabody and Stearns were two of the notable firms of the era that helped to popularize the Shingle Style, through their large scale commissions for "seaside cottages" of the rich and the well-to-do in such places as Newport, Rhode Island. However the most famous Shingle Style house built in American was "Kragsyde" (1882) the summer home commissioned by Bostonian G. Nixon Black, from Peabody and Stearns. Kragsyde was built atop the rocky coastal shore near Manchester-By-the-Sea, Massachusetts, and embodied every possible tenet of the Shingle style.
Many of the concepts of the Shingle Style were adopted by Gustav Stickley, and adapted to the American version of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Additionally, there are several other notable styles of Victorian architecture, including Italianate, Second Empire, Folk and Gothic revival.
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