For most people, the term “Victorian architecture” defines a diverse but singular style. The reality is that this term encompasses several architectural styles, all which were used throughout the mid to late 19th century. The name, of course, comes from the dominating British queen at the time: Queen Victoria.
Victorian homeowners were very social; dinner parties happened several times a week and consisted of pre- and postmeal pursuits. For these socialites, acquiring a home that has been impressive and constructed in the latest style has been key. (The ornate look was shortly spurned, however, by the evolution of new construction technology, especially the availability of affordable wood and the ability to incorporate steel into buildings.)
Though Victorian design is suspended in England, it rapidly spread globally as British architects began to emigrate to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Eventually, improved communications in the 19th century began to notify global architects of the most up-to-date and greatest styles and trends, and the Victorian influence grew.
Still, the exact Victorian period of time and names of architectural styles differ from country to country. In the USA, Victorian style was popular from 1860 to 1900. San Francisco in particular is well-known for its Victorian architecture. In Australia, the Victorian period has been recognized from 1840 to 1890. Melbourne’s world-heritage Royal Exhibition Building and Rialto Building are both good examples of classic Victorian architecture in Australia.
Most Victorian-era homes unite several different styles and attributes, but the following is a basic principle for the most popular Victorian architectural styles.
Dijeau Poage Construction
This style developed as American towns began to expand in the size and style. The Second Empire represented a new kind of urban architecture, inspired in fantastic part from the apartment buildings in Paris and other western European cities. Often, these were highly ornamented buildings with a tall and horizontal facade, topped with a mansard-style curved roof. Long dormer windows frequently sat at the peak of the building, and bay windows were common too. These homes generally had a rectangular floor plan with a central hallway and double entry doors.
These ancient Victorian houses reinvented the basic structures of medieval temples and churches in a more approachable way. They frequently have the stereotypical Victorian attributes: multiple colors, textured walls, steeply pitched roofs and complex vergeboard (also referred to as gingerbread) below the gables. Board-and-batten siding was a popular feature, but it was generally used vertically rather than in the more traditional flat style.
The Queen Anne style is thought to be the most recognizable of the Victorian-era houses. These houses were very popular from the 1870s through the 1900s and were heavily influenced by British architect Richard Norman Shaw. The style is often characterized by ornamentation and surplus — steep rooflines and porches with decorative gables, circular towers, decorative windows and entry doors, bay windows and a huge array of colors and textures.
Between Naps on the Porch
As materials became more accessible and affordable, craftspeople became more creative with the uses of framing and wood, which can be understood in Stick Eastlake houses. These homes have more decorative trusswork with a mix of horizontal and vertical planes. The roofs normally have a steep pitch and easy gables. Shingle style is quite similar, due to the unusual utilization of affordable wood products. In these houses, the entire exterior can be coated in shingles.
As substances became less expensive, working-class families were able to build and design their own houses. Victorian romanticism was combined with classic English cottage and American homestead style to create the Folk Victorian. These homes, usually found in more rural settings, blend functionality with ornamentation, including gingerbread-accented wraparound porches and the vibrant use of local materials. Nonetheless, these homes are often more simply designed than urban houses of the same period.
Italianate Victorian houses were considered a combination of classical and formal styles, and were frequently inspired by state villas from the Old World. These houses were constructed in rectangular segments to mimic the look of Italian-style villas. The arches of traditional Roman architecture were often blended with the detail which became possible with new construction technology of the moment. Other common features include large porches with decorative eaves, paired arched windows, Corinthian columns, horizontal or low-pitched roofs and a central square tower or cupola.
Read more photographs of Victorian style
More Victorian Homes:
A moderate and Intelligent Victorian
The Green Gambrel House
Mission District Row House