Victorian Style Homes

Victorian Architecture can Refer to a
Number of Architectural Styles

Victorian architecture dates from the second half of the 19th century, when America was exploring new approaches to building and design. There are a variety of Victorian styles, including Second Empire, Italianate, Stick, and Queen Anne . Advancements in machine technology meant that Victorian-era builders could easily incorporate mass-produced ornamentation such as brackets, spindles, and patterned shingles.

The last true Victorians were constructed in the early 1900s, but contemporary builders often borrow Victorian ideas, designing eclectic “neo-Victorians.” These homes combine modern materials with 19th century details, such as curved towers and spindled porches. A number of Victorian styles are recreated on the fanciful “Main Street” at Disney theme parks in Florida, California, and Europe.

The term Victorian architecture can refer to one of a number of architectural styles predominantly employed during the Victorian era. As with the latter, the period of building that it covers may slightly overlap the actual reign, 20 June 1837 – 22 January 1901, of Queen Victoria after whom it is named, in keeping with a British and French custom by which architectural styles were named after the reigning monarch.

The book, 'Victorian Style' - by Judith Miller, is a fascinating visual study of the richly decorative, eclectic, and ever popular Victorian bygone era. Every aspect of household style is given an in-depth look, from exterior detail to all the interior elements, with particular emphasis on the décor of individual rooms. A commanding text delves into both the social and historical background at the base the period’s appearance, and there’s an abundance of inspiration ideas which home decorators can adapt to fit any budget. house, or lifestyle.

Other movements popularized in the period

While not uniquely Victorian, and part of revivals that began before the era, these styles are strongly associated with the Victorian era due to the large number of examples that were erected in that period
  • Gothic Revival
  • Italianate
  • Neoclassicism

International spread of Victorian styles

In the early 19th century the romantic medieval gothic style appeared as a backlash to the symmetry of Palladianism, and such buildings as Fonthill Abbey were built. By the middle of the 19th century, as a result of new technology, construction was able to develop incorporating steel as a building component; one of the greatest exponents of this was Joseph Paxton, architect of the Crystal Palace. Paxton also continued to build such houses as Mentmore Towers, in the still popular retrospective Renaissance styles. In this era of prosperity and development English architecture embraced many new methods of construction, but ironically in style, such architects as Augustus Pugin ensured it remained firmly in the past.

In Canada, Alexander Thomson was a pioneer in the use of cast iron and steel for commercial buildings, blending neo-classical conventionality with Egyptian and oriental themes to produce many truly original structures.

In the 18th century a few English architects had emigrated to the colonies, but as the British Empire became firmly established in the 19th century many architects at the start of their careers made the decision to emigrate. Several chose the United States, and others went to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Normally the style of architecture they adopted was those which were fashionable when they left England, though by the latter half of the century improving transport and communications meant that even quite remote parts of the Empire had access to the many publications such as The Builder magazine that enabled colonial architects to stay abreast of current fashion. Thus the influence of English architecture spread across the world. Several prominent architects produced English-derived designs around the world, including William Butterfield (St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide) and Jacob Wrey Mould (Chief Architect of Public Works in New York City).

North America

There are also Folk and Shingle Style Victorian houses. The names of architectural styles (as well as their adaptations) varied between countries. Many homes combined the elements of several different styles and are not easily distinguishable as one particular style or another. In the USA, highly decorated houses are sometimes called gingerbread houses.

Notable Victorian era cities include Astoria, Oregon (USA), Albany, New York (USA), Boston (USA), Brooklyn (USA), Buffalo (USA), Chicago (USA), Columbus, OH (USA), Detroit (USA), Galena, Illinois (USA), Galveston, Texas (USA), Glasgow (UK), Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA), Jersey City/Hoboken (USA), Kolkata (India), London (UK), Louisville, Kentucky (USA), Manchester (UK), Mumbai (India), Nelson, New Orleans (USA), Philadelphia (USA), Pittsburgh (USA), Richmond (USA), Saint Paul, Minnesota (USA), San Francisco (USA), St. Louis, Missouri (USA), Toronto (Canada).

In the USA, the South End of Boston is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest and largest Victorian neighborhood in the country. Old Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky also claims to be the nation's largest Victorian neighborhood. San Francisco is well known for its extensive Victorian architecture, particularly in the Haight-Ashbury, Lower Haight, Alamo Square, Noe Valley, Castro, Nob Hill, and Pacific Heights neighborhoods.

Richmond, Virginia is home to several large Victorian neighborhoods, the most prominent being The Fan and Church Hill. Church Hill has the distinction of being the place where Patrick Henry gave his famous Give me liberty or give me death speech at historic Saint John's church. The Fan is best known locally as Richmond's largest and most 'European' of Richmond's neighborhoods and nationally as the largest contiguous Victorian neighborhood in the United States.

The Distillery District in Toronto contains the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. Cabbagetown is the largest and most continuous Victorian residential area in North America. Other Toronto Victorian neighbourhoods include The Annex, Corktown, Parkdale, and Rosedale.

The photo album L'Architecture Americaine by Albert Levy published in 1886 is perphaps the first recognition in Europe of the new forces emerging in American architecture.

The Old West End neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio is recognized as having the largest collection of late Victorian and Edwardian homes in the United States, east of the Mississippi.

Carroll Avenue in Los Angeles contains that city's highest concentration of Victorian homes.

Suggested Home Styles Books

See also