Queen Anne Style House: Influences on American Architecture

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English: Row houses located at (from right to left) 1861-1869 California Street, NW, in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC Built in 1904, the Queen Anne-style homes are designated as contributing properties to the Washington Heights Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

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The Carson Mansion located in Eureka, California is considered one of the finest examples of American Queen Anne style architecture. The mansion is a mix of every major style of Victorian Architecture, including but not limited to: Eastlake, Italianate, Queen Anne (primary), and Stick. One nationally known architectural historian described the home as "a baronial castle in Redwood..." and stated further that "The illusion of grandeur in the house is heightened by the play on scale, the use of fanciful detail and the handling of mass as separate volumes, topped by a lively roofscape." The style of the mansion has been described as "eclectic" and "peculiarly American." Unlike most other homes dating from the period, this property has always been maintained, and is in nearly the same condition as when it was built.

Queen Anne: The Queen Anne Style in Britain means either the English Baroque architectural style roughly of the reign of Queen Anne (1702--14), or a revived form that was popular in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century.

There are a number of different house styles that emerged between 1840-1910 during the Victorian era in the United States. The Queen Anne style is one. Its architecture is often flamboyant, became fashionable during the industrial revolution and is a product of the machine age. Sometimes there is lavish gingerbred, turrets, towers, Bay windows, balconies, wrap around, highly decorated, covered porches, spindle work, finials, roof cresting, corner brackets on porches and cutouts, brackets, prominent forward facing gables, cross gabled versions, steep, pitched roofs, double-hung windows often long and narrow, ornate stained glass windows, siding may range from half timbering and stucco to patterned shingle and clapboards, parapets (A parapet is a barrier which is an extension of the wall at the edge of a roof, terrace, balcony, walkway or other structure. Where extending above a roof, it may simply be the portion of an exterior wall that continues above the line of the roof surface, or may be a continuation of a vertical feature beneath the roof such as a fire wall or party wall. Parapets were originally used to defend buildings from military attack, but today they are primarily used as guard rails and to prevent the spread of fires.) and brickwork are often variably colored and patterned and highly decorative, patterned, masonry chimneys-sometimes seen with chimney pots. The Queen Anne architecture is a mixture of characteristics. Simply put, the "Queen Anne" architecture in the United States is difficult to define; however, design excess often comes to mind. Fanciful would be an appropriate descriptive word!

Authors, Virginia and Lee McAlester, in the book, A Field Guide to American Houses, identify four types of detailing found on Queen Anne homes:

Queen Anne architecture in Europe's United Kingdom is quite different from Queen Anne architecture in North America. Why, then, are some Victorian style houses referred to as Queen Anne? In the early 1700s Anne Stuart became the Queen of England and Scotland. During her reign the arts and sciences prospered. Scottish architect, Richard Norman Shaw , 150 years later, used the term Queen Anne to describe his work as did his followers. Although quite different from the formal, symmetrical Queen Anne architecture period during Queen Anne's reign, the name took hold in the United States. Ironically, the very qualities that made Queen Anne architecture so regal also made it fragile. These expansive and expressive buildings proved expensive and difficult to maintain. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Queen Anne style had fallen out of favor. In the early 1900s, American builders favored homes with less ornamentation. The terms Edwardian (The Edwardian era or Edwardian period in the United Kingdom is the period covering the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes extended beyond Edward's death to include years leading up to World War I. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 and the succession of her son Edward marked the end of the Victorian era) and Princess Anne (By 1900, the Queen Anne style was being replaced by more austere and restrained architectural forms. However, significant Queen Anne influence remained. Smaller examples, less complicated in form and less decorated than their antecedents are today often referred to as the "Princess Anne" style.) are names sometimes used for simplified, scaled down versions of the Queen Anne style.

"Toward the end of the Victorian period a new style of house emerged which would have a significant impact on American residential architecture. Although it was named Queen Anne, the style had little resemblance to the architecture style that developed in England during the reign of Queen Anne. It was considered by many architects and builders to be the first 'true' American house style. Renewed interest in the Victorian Period in recent years has led to the need to reevaluate the Queen Anne Style." ... Read all about the Queen Anne Style House: Influences on American Architecture in Patricia McAlister's paper.

"The Queen Anne style in Britain refers to either the English Baroque architectural style approximately of the reign of Queen Anne (reigned 1702-1714), or a revived form that was popular in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century (when it is also known as Queen Anne revival). In British architecture the term is mostly used of domestic buildings up to the size of a manor house, and usually designed elegantly but simply by local builders or architects, rather than the grand palaces of noble magnates.

The well-known architectural commentator and author Marcus Binney, writing in The Times in 2006, describes Poulton House built in 1706, during the reign of Queen Anne, as '...Queen Anne at its most delightful'. Binney lists what he describes as the typical features of the style:

When used of revived 'Queen Anne style' of the 19th and 20th century the historic reference in the name should not be taken too literally, as buildings in the Queen Anne style often bear as little resemblance to English buildings of the 18th century as those of any revival style to the original. Furthermore, the Queen Anne style in other parts of the English-speaking world, particularly in the United States and Australia, is significantly different from that in the United Kingdom, and may hardly include any elements typical of the actual architecture of Anne's reign." ... Queen Anne style architecture

For More Information:

Victorian Architecture
Name that Style: Queen Anne
First posted: Jan 25, 2015
Last update: Jan 20, 2020