St. Donatus, Iowa: A Little Luxembourg in Eastern Iowa

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Historic Preservation, Masonry, Miscellaneous, paint, Vernacuar, Vernacular

Vernacular architecture is a term that can mean different things to different people.  It is generally defined as a building style based upon local or traditional designs, materials and building techniques.  However, the nature and origins of designs and techniques varied. Immigrants brought traditional building designs and construction techniques with them to the United States […]

What Style Is It???

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, Folk Victorian, Greek Revival, Historic Preservation, History

“What style is my house?” This is a common query from homeowners as they wonder how their home fits into the local architectural landscape. This is, however, a question that can be difficult to answer. Is a house a Victorian, Folk Victorian, National Folk, Vernacular, Queen Anne, Italianate, Second Empire or something else? Answers depend […]

The Gothic Revival Cottage

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

Andrew Jackson Downing casts a long shadow in American architecture and design.  Although Downing died in 1851 at the young age of 36, his aesthetic and design principals remained current through the end of the 19th century. Downing was particularly influential in the design of farmhouses and rural cottages where his emphasis on architecture as […]

We preserve the high and mighty, but what about the little and lowly?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, Economic Development, History

Early preservation efforts usually focused on landmark buildings associated with important historical figures or events.  We call this the “George Washington slept here” principle and explains why so many grand houses have been preserved and restored.  But, is that all we should do?  My ancestors never lived in mansions or owned plantations.  Instead they were farmers, […]

The Eastlake

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, Eastlake, Historic Preservation

Charles Locke Eastlake (1836-1906) was a British-born furniture designer and among the most influential figures in architecture and design in the last half of the 19th century.  Although his early designs were shaped by William Morris’s use of floral and medieval motifs, Eastlake later developed his own, distinctive style which emphasized angular detailing with shallow, […]

Michigan House Detective

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

A recent book by Fred Peterson titled Homes in the Heartland describes the evolution of the balloon-frame farmhouse in the upper Midwest.  Peterson notes one characteristic of many, first generation farmhouses: an eclectic nature where they were built in stages with several additions. When settlers arrived in the Midwest one of their first priorities was building shelter.  This […]

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 […]