The National Register of Historic Places

Posted Leave a commentPosted in History, Miscellaneous, National Register of Historic Places, Research

Historic Design will donate free architecture research services for a local institution, business or individual in 2017!  Click here to learn more. We frequently see and hear about historic buildings and other structures being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, it isn’t clear to many what the National Register is and what […]

Selecting Doors for your Historic Home

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Carpentry, History, Joinery, Millwork, Molding, Tools

One frequently neglected step when restoring a historic home is the selection of millwork that is appropriate for the building’s age and style.  This includes interior and exterior doors, which are often hastily chosen after thumbing through a catalog or browsing in a showroom.  Few salespeople in home centers or millwork outlets know the differences […]

The I-House

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, History

When people think of 19th century houses they often  imagine grand Queen Anne homes with towers, elaborate porches and oodles spindles, brackets and fretwork.  However, if you read through my blog you might have noticed that there isn’t much devoted to high-style Victorian homes.  I have, however, written a fair bit about more common houses.  […]

Minnesota Romantic: The LeDuc House

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Andrew Jackson Downing, Gothic Revival, History, Picturesque

Andrew Jackson Downing ([October 30, 1815 – July 28, 1852) was a prominent landscape designer, architectural critic and advocate for romantic architectural styles in the United States. His pattern books Cottage Residences (1842) and The Architecture of Country Houses (1850) were widely read and introduced Americans to revival styles popular in England. Jackson’s advocacy for the […]

The Georgian: Berkeley Plantation.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, Georgian, History

In his book Architecture in the United States, Dell Upton proposes that there are two themes in American architecture: The classical, which is “regular, ordered, modular, symmetrical, balanced,” and the picturesque, which is “less obviously ordered, asymmetrical, less obviously unified, often accretive.” Upton’s views echo those of E. K. Rossiter and F. A. Wright, who […]

The Second Empire Style

Posted Leave a commentPosted in History, Second Empire

Many 19th century building styles like the Greek Revival, Gothic Revival and Italianate were inspired by historic precedents and featured antique details and ornament.  However, in the 1850s many Americans opted for a more “modern” style which adopted some fashionable design elements popular in Paris.  This new style, called the Second Empire, proved to be especially popular […]

The Greek Revival: America’s First National Building Style

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, Greek Revival, History

The Greek Revival has always been my favorite American building style.  I find its simplicity appealing while its bold and solid nature are symbolic of the growing confidence and wealth of the American republic during the 19th century.  The Greek Revival style is also significant because it was America’s first national style.  Although based on a […]

The Peterson Blockhouse

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Carpentry, Fortifications, History, Log cabins and structures

The Peterson, IA blockhouse is one of those architectural surprises you can find in  small towns across the country. Built in 1862 from hewn logs, this structure is an extremely rare example of a wooden military fortification from the upper Midwest. First, a bit of history. Relations between the native Dakota Indians and white settlers […]

Making Molding the Old Fashioned Way

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Carpentry, Joinery, Millwork, Molding, Tools

I am occasionally asked how molding such as window casing or base was produced during the 19th century. The answer depends on when and where.  By the middle of the 19th century steam and water powered mills were producing most millwork, including casing, base, cornices, spindles, doors and windows. However, in some remote areas many continued to […]