Monday, September 12, 2011

"It is Not Gaudy, It's Italianate"

1840 - 1885: Italianate House Style

Italianate became the most popular housing style in Victorian America. Italianate is also known as the Tuscan, the Lombard, or simply, the bracketed style.

Victorian Italianate style house in Cape May, New Jersey

Victorian Italianate style house in Cape May, New Jersey

Photo © Jupiterimages Corporation
Italianate houses have many of these features:
  • Low-pitched or flat roof
  • Balanced, symmetrical rectangular shape
  • Tall appearance, with 2, 3, or 4 stories
  • Wide, overhanging eaves with brackets and cornices
  • Square cupola
  • Porch topped with balustraded balconies
  • Tall, narrow, double-paned windows with hood moldings
  • Side bay window
  • Heavily molded double doors
  • Roman or segmented arches above windows and doors
About the Italianate Style:

The Italianate style began in England with the picturesque movement of the 1840s. For the previous 200 years, English homes tended to be formal and classical in style. With the picturesque, movement, however, builders began to design fanciful recreations of Italian Renaissance villas. When the Italianate style moved to the United States, it was reinterpreted again to create a uniquely American style.

By the late 1860s, Italianate was the most popular house style in the United States. Historians say that Italianate became the favored style for two reasons:

  • Italianate homes could be constructed with many different building materials, and the style could be adapted to modest budgets.
  • New technologies of the Victorian era made it possible to quickly and affordably produce cast-iron and press-metal decorations.

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