Building StylesEastlakeHistoric Preservation

The Eastlake

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, linear carving. His influential book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and other Details popularized his aesthetic and style.  It was first published in the United States in 1872 and proved so popular that it was reprinted several times by 1880. The book remained an important guide for architects and furniture designers into the 1890s.

Although Hints on Household Taste itself was limited to interior design and furniture, Eastlake’s designs were applied to architecture. Rather than a distinct building style, the Eastlake is really a type of ornament which was applied to Queen Anne and Stick Style buildings. This ornamental style is characterized by the use of spindles, elaborate brackets, wooden spandrels on porches, angular and notched detailing made form flat-sawn boards and contrasting wall surfaces.

Charles Eastlake came to abhor how is designs were used in the United States.  Following Morris’s emphasis on authenticity and craftsmanship, Eastlake opposed the gratuitous use of of mass-produced, machine-made spindles, brackets and other elements.  Indeed, the style can be very busy and even distracting if not painted properly.

The 1890 Taylor House in Le Sueur , MN is a good example of the Eastlake ornamental style.  Although the shape and massing of the house is typical for the Queen Anne, the ornament is quite distinctive.   The wall surfaces are covered with a complex mix of contrasting shingle patterns and angular, flat-sawn boards. Spindle friezes are prominent on the porch and beneath the small gables. The turned spindles are contrasted by the use of squarish porch posts and balusters. The strapwork made from narrow strips of wood and the sawn quatrefoil and bull’s eye detailing above a few windows are also characteristic.

The 1890 Taylor House in Le Sueur, MN.

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