The Victorian Era of American Architecture existed from 1837 to 1914 and is the era when architects began thinking outside the box. This era saw the full force of the industrial revolution which led to the availability of affordable mass produced hardware as well as supplies. Unfortunately, handmade craftsmanship was substituted for machine manufacturing. This era is also when houses became less box shaped and more asymmetrical and elaborate. Homes of this era are bold, elaborate and colorful. The architecture styles of this era are Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Stick/Eastlake, Shingle, Folk Victorian, Queen Anne and Gilded Age/Beaux Arts.
Gothic Revival are the houses that are commonly called “gingerbread” houses. The houses in Western Europe were the inspiration for most of these houses, with their steeped pitched roofs, walls that are multi-colored and textured and asymmetrical facades as well as their elaborate vergeboard located below their gables.
Italianate style of American architecture during the Victorian era was developed from combining the Federal Era architectural influence with the Victorian Era architecture. Characteristics of this style of American architecture are paired arched windows, elaborate porch decorations, symmetrical facade, decorative eaves. Some of the Italianate style homes have a cupola and a flat roof.
Second Empire style was inspired by Paris’s ornate cityscapes. Characteristics of this particular style of architecture in America include either square or rectangular floor plans, double entry doors, dormer windows, Mansard roofs and facades that are tall and flat. Bay windows are usually included as well as patterned roofs.
Stick/Eastlake style of American architecture, which are common in areas that lacked architectural style such as California, went outside the box with the use of wood framing and cladding. Characteristics of this style of American architecture includes simple gables on a steep roof, framing consisting of exposed half-timber, decorative truss work and planes that are vertical and horizontal.
Shingle style architecture is very similar to Stick/Eastlake style architecture in that they too are known for the use of wood products that are affordable. Characteristics of this architectural style is predominantly the use of wooden shingles as siding as well as roofing material.
Folk Victorian style architecture is the result of the merge of the American homestead with the English cottage and is usually found in the country side or in a rural setting. Characteristics of this style of American architecture is that they combine stylistic ornamentation with functionality, they have fluid vergeboard that makes them look like gingerbread houses and wrap-around porches.
Queen Anne style architecture is influenced by Richard Norman Shaw, an English Architect, who combined English cottages with Victorian Era. Characteristics of this style of American architecture are floor plans that are irregular, many roofs that are steep, glass panel entry doorss, decorative windows, corbelled chimneys, circular or octagonal towers and porches. This style of architecture also have elaborate vergeboard, bay windows, exterior framing and use a wide selection of textures and colors.
Gilded Age/ Beaux Arts style of architecture or the “American Renaissance”, has characteristics such as elaborate interiors, paired columns, porches and entries, large windows that are arched and stone bearing walls that are massive.
The Victorian Era of American Architecture has its own distinct hardware that came about from the Industrial Revolution in America. Bronze and brass were now the material of choice and were mass produced. Hardware that was commonly used in the Victorian Era are offset hinges, plate and latch combined entry doorsets, cabinet knobs, mortise locks and bin pulls. Innovations included in this era are decorative doorknobs, electric doorbells, thumb-turn doorbells, brass floor registers and electric switches that are push-button.