Victorian era encompasses the period between 1837 and 1901 when Queen Victoria ruled Great Britain. During this period a number of architectural styles were born that fall under the heading “Victorian.” Some of the ones you’ve probably heard of are the Queen Anne, Second Empire and Gothic Revival. But the Victorian style most commonly found in the United States is the Folk Victorian.
Homes of this style were built by and for regular folks. The rich would hire architects who would design elaborate (and expensive!) mansions in one of the other popular Victorian styles. The non-rich also liked the idea of living in a stylish home, but not being able to afford architects many designed their homes themselves.
What sure helped was the industrial revolution which made prefabricated building materials readily available, so anyone could go down to the local lumberyard and pick some decorative woodwork to incorporate into their new house. The resulting home would often be a hodge-podge of different styles, but by no means less charming than the professionally designed Victorians.
A typical Folk Victorian is almost always built out of wood, typically with a symmetrical façade and a hipped or gable roof. The most common decorative elements were gingerbread trim (flat and pre-cut), intricate brackets under the eaves, lattice porch skirts and fancy spindle work. They are less complex and less ornate than other Victorian styles, and are generally smaller too. They very seldom have a tower, balconies or projecting window bays.
The popularity of most Victorian styles fizzled out in the early 1900’s. But the stylish yet no-nonsense Folk Victorians continued to be built well into the 1940’s.
Starting in 2003, this blog series ran for 11 years. Click on the images below to read some of the posts.