The George B. Hitchcock House

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, Federal Style, Historic Preservation, History, Masonry, Miscellaneous

The  George B. Hitchcock house is one of those remarkable survivors that are significant not only as architecture but also for their roles in out nation’s history.   Hitchcock was a Congregational minister and one of several, prominent abolitionists active in southern Iowa.  He used this stone house, which he built in 1856, as a stop […]

Old House CSI: Dundas, MN

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Research, Building Styles, Carpentry, Folk Victorian, Greek Revival, Historic Preservation, Historic Windows, History, Miscellaneous, Vernacuar

I always have my head on a swivel when I’m driving around the countryside because I’m on the lookout for old and interesting buildings.  This gable front-and-wing  house in Dundas, MN caught my eye during a recent drive.  You can see that the house has changed over the years and I thought it might be […]

The Italianate

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Building Styles, Historic Preservation, History, Millwork, Miscellaneous

Examples of the Italianate can bee seen across the country.  It was the most popular building style in the United States during the mid-19th century and persisted in the West until the 1890s.  Despite being so common, however, its origins aren’t often discussed and many have a poor understanding of the artistic and social  factors […]

The Downing Colors and their Critics

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Andrew Jackson Downing, Historic Preservation, History, Miscellaneous, paint, Picturesque

I have discussed the career of Andrew Jackson Downing previously and the long shadow he cast in American architecture and design during the 19th century. Downing was a romantic who stressed “truthfulness” in architecture where proper design should express the purpose of the building. That is, the purpose “is conveyed by the features of the […]

Danebod: A Danish Community in Southwest Minnesota.

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

Immigration to the United States has always been a difficult experience that led many newcomers to question their own identities as they tried to build a new life in their new home.  Immigrant groups reacted differently as some quickly learned English and adopted American culture.  Others clung to their language and customs as they feared […]

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, […]