Victorian architecture encompasses European architectural styles that were popular during the reign of Queen Victoria (June 20, 1837 to January 22, 1901). Most of the styles of that era took their cues from the past and applied the more contemporary techniques and influences. Victorian architecture is well regarded in the housing market, both for its aesthetic quality and historical value. Read on to learn about the most common types of Victorian architecture and what makes each style unique.
This style combined Renaissance-era Italian aesthetics with the more advanced 19th century construction technology. It is characterized by flat roofs, pronounced (and often decorated) edges, tall and narrow windows and deep overhangs. The Roman-inspired decorations of the Italian Renaissance style became larger and more exaggerated. Depending on the size and shape of the building, those decorations can include columns, stylized arches and statuettes.
A 19th century take on the architectural style popular in the early 18th century, Queen Anne style was meant to evoke what Victorian architects saw as the simpler times, when everything was made by hand and the building designs were more individualized. This style was characterized by asymmetrical facades, large triangular roofs, bay windows, sizable second and/or third story balconies, pronounced stone porches and prominent, creatively detailed wall textures. As one contemporary put it, they looked like the more "restrained gingerbread houses." The term "stick-style" referred to a more utilitarian and less ornate take on Queen Anne style buildings.
A style that originated in France during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III, it partially overlaps with the Italianate style. The style aimed to create imposing structures that could be adapted for a variety of purposes. Second Empire style is characterized by boxy, steep Mansard roofs tipped with iron trim and rectangular towers of varying heights. Some of the larger Second Empire buildings featured elaborate sculptural details around doors and windows.
A subset of Romanesque Revival architecture, it was invented by Henry Hobson Richardson, an American architect. Like other Romanseque Victorian styles, it took cues from some of the more grandiose examples of medieval European architecture—in this case, 11th and 12th century southern France, Spain and Italy. Richardsonian style was characterised by round arches that were often supported by short squat columns, recessed entrances, variably designed squared block masonry, deliberately blank walls that contrasted against more ornate window bands and cylindrical towers with cone-shaped roofs. Most of the houses built in this style were commissioned by the wealthy.
A style largely confined to the United States, it took the cue from the colonial period and applied a few touches of Queen Anne style. During the colonial era, shingles were widely used as construction material—hence the name. Architects who worked in this style tried to create an illusion of passage of time, creating buildings that looked like they were continuously expanded. In many cases, floor plans were taken directly from existing colonial homes. They also used cedar and shingle shakes to make the house look weathered and old.