Major Architectural Styles

Discovering the style of your house will aid in replacing missing ornamentation and in making compatible additions and changes. The more you know about the history of your house before you begin rehabilitation, the more successful and gratifying your project will be.

Identifying The Style Of Your House

The first step in identifying the style of your house is to take a good look at the outside. Take note of the roof shape, the arrangement of the windows and doors, the basic shape of the building, the materials and the details.

Keep in mind that your house may have changed since it was built. It may have a different type of siding, ornament may have been removed or added, or windows may have been changed. It is often possible to determine the style of an altered house by its shape and roof type.

Knowing the year it was built could be helpful.

After considering these factors, look at the different styles in the links above and find the house that most closely resembles yours. Your house will probably not be exactly like any of the examples shown. Look for similar shapes, materials, and details. Then read the description of that style to find out more about its history and specific characteristics.

Background & History: Cincinnati Architecture

Growth, industry and technology influenced architectural styles in Cincinnati. Also, learn how the same elements arranged differently make up an architectural "style."

Federal: 1815 To 1840

Federal houses are square or rectangular in plan, two to three stories high, and constructed of brick or wood.

Greek Revival: 1835 To 1860

Greek Revival houses are usually symmetrical, simple in detail, and constructed of brick or wood.

Renaissance Revival: 1845 To 1885 & 1890 To 1915

Renaissance Revival enjoyed two periods of popularity.

Gothic Revival: 1850 To 1870

The first Gothic Revival houses, built of brick or stone, resembled small castles and featured square towers, pointed arch windows and battlements.

Italian Villa: 1850 To 1870

Italian Villa houses are usually two stories high, have irregular floor plans and low-pitched gable or hip roofs with wide, bracketed eaves.

Italianate: 1865 To 1890

Italianate houses are usually two to three stories high, square or rectangular in plan, with low-pitched hip, gable, or shed roofs.

French Second Empire: 1870 To 1895

French Second Empire often incorporated elements of other styles, including Eastlake porches and Italian Villa towers.

Victorian Vernacular: 1870 To 1895

What is meant by "Victorian Vernacular" is a particular type of Cincinnati house that was built between 1870 and 1895.

Queen Anne & Shingle: 1880 To 1900

Queen Anne houses are brick with wood shingled or stuccoed upper floors, or wood with surfaces variously sided with clapboards and an assortment of shingle patterns. Evolving from Queen Anne was a style that exhibits many of its characteristics, the Shingle style.

Richardsonian Romanesque: 1880 To 1900

The chief feature of Richardsonian Romanesque buildings is the heavily emphasized round Roman arch.

Chateau: 1880 To 1905

Chateau houses are massive, two-and-a-half story buildings with steeply pitched hip roofs and smooth stone walls.

Swiss Chalet: 1885 To 1910

Swiss Chalet houses are typically square or rectangular in plan, two-and-a-half stories high, have low pitched roofs with front gables, and wide eaves supported by decorative brackets.

Colonial Revival: 1895 To 1930

Colonial Revival is used to describe houses based on designs from the Colonial period in American history.

Prairie: 1905 To 1930

Houses of the Prairie style are characterized by an overall horizontal emphasis achieved by low proportions, low-pitched or flat roofs with wide overhangs, banded casement windows, and low, massive chimneys.

Bungalow: 1910 To 1940

The standard Bungalow is square or rectangular in plan, one-and-a-half stories high, with a low pitched gable or jerkin-head roof, wide roof overhangs and gable or jerkin-head roofed front porch.

Tudor Revival: 1910 To 1940

Tudor Revival houses come in various sizes from one-and-a-half story cottages to two-and-a-half story mansions.

Spanish Mission: 1910 To 1940

Spanish Mission houses are one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half stories high, square or rectangular in plan, and have gable or hip roofs covered in red, green or orange ceramic tiles (or in metal, fabricated to simulate tile), or flat roofs.

Art Deco & Moderne: 1930 To 1950

Art Deco buildings are brick or stone and are characterized by geometric decoration. Moderne, a style that followed Art Deco, is closely related but lacks the intricate geometric Art Deco ornamentation.