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Architectural Styles

Want to test your architectural style knowledge? The Oregonian has a down and dirty list of important architectural styles throughout the ages, from native long houses up to Contemporary. The list is comprehensive, but the information is simple, and concise and each style has sweet little illustrations. Each style features: The date range of popularity, the roots or origin of design, style characteristics, building materials commonly used and location in the country where the design is most often found.


For those of you who have seen our building, it was loosely designed around the Italianate style, with some contemporary features. Below is an example write-up for the Italianate style :


By Rene Eisenbart

November 09, 2007, 3:45AM


Patterned after rambling Italian farmhouses with their distinctive square cupolas and decorative brackets, the Italianate style gained widespread popularity in the United States during the 1840s and ’50s.

BACKGROUND: The Italianate style originated in England as a reaction to the rigid classical styles that had dominated Western architecture for 200 years. Andrew Jackson Downing, a prominent landscape designer from New York, was one of its most influential proponents in the United States. Downing published popular house-pattern books that included elaborate Italianate designs for the wealthy, as well as modest workers’ cottages and farmhouses. By the 1860s, Italianate homes and town houses had become widespread, evolving into a vernacular American style loosely based on the rural Italian villas that inspired them. The majority of these houses were not custom-designed or built by Italian immigrants, who arrived in the United States decades later. Rather, a builder would often cull a design from a pattern book and select a few fashionable Italianate details to embellish the simple box-like or rectangular form. Roofs were usually hipped, though occasionally gabled.

LOCATION: In Portland, most examples can be found in close-in Northwest neighborhoods, as well as a few in the Buckman neighborhood in Southeast. Oregon towns known for their Italianate homes include Albany and Astoria. Most examples in Oregon were built between 1860 and 1890, when the style was most popular among local builders.

BUILDING MATERIALS: Ranging from brownstone and stucco to brick and wood, depending on what’s locally available. Sometimes exterior surfaces were scored to resemble stone masonry blocks typical of a real Italian country villa. In the Northwest, Italianate houses are usually of wood-frame construction with horizontal lap siding.

Rene EisenbartClick on image to enlarge

EXTERIOR STYLE CHARACTERISTICS: Wide eaves, heavily bracketed cornices and partial- or full-width porches. Other telltale features include tall windows, sometimes grouped or rounded; projecting bays; and double entry doors.

INTERIOR STYLE CHARACTERISTICS: Ceiling medallions, wainscoting, elaborate plaster ceilings, fireplaces with an over-mantel mirror, staircases with turned balusters and elaborate newel posts.