The easiest way to identify your neighborhood’s style is to become a careful observer.
- Are your streets narrow, lined with trees, with small, starter homes and small or no yards? Or large homes with lots of yard?
- When neighbors walk down the street, do they see porches, balconies and large wood casement windows without screens? Or long driveways with triple garages and basketball hoops?
- Do you live in a neighborhood of apartments and homes mixed with businesses, restaurants and stores that create an opportunity to walk where ever you want to go in five blocks?
- Are the streets in your neighborhood wide and empty because your development is new and is not mature enough to have a lot of stories yet?
Twentieth century American neighborhoods are all of these. Listed below is a short, “at a glance” guide for identifying different residential, architectural styles that may be in your neighborhood. Information is excerpted from Preservation Information, “Getting to Know Your 20th Century Neighborhood,” by Greta Terrell. Published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Photos are taken in Sacramento neighborhoods unless noted otherwise.
Colonial Revival (1890-1940)
This style is created from the building design popular during the American colonial period. It represents a rebirth of the distinctive architecture of the East Coast. This one- or two-story design features a symmetrical facade with double hung windows, classic columns, side porch or balcony and trimmed either in wood or brick siding.
Tudor Revival (1890-1940)
Large decorative gable end or side chimneys and slate or asphalt shingle roofs that look like thatch roofs identify this style. Homes also include features such as narrow multi-paned casement windows, interior wood wall paneling, wood box beams on plaster ceilings.
California and the Southwest are the locations where you will find this architectural style because of its Spanish influence. Walls are stucco, with low pitched roofs with tiles. You may see dormer windows, eaves that overhang and large, wraparound porches.
Prairie Style (1890-1920)
This style was developed by Frank Lloyd Wright and identified by open floor plans, low ceilings and prominent central fireplaces. The focus is on integrating the house with the landscape, so casement windows are grouped together to correspond with natural lines of the yard areas. Other features include a low pitched roof with large overhanging eaves.
Bungalow or Craftsman (1905-1930)
These home designs are identified by a compact plan, one or one and a half stories, limited hallways, low gable roofs, exposed rafters and large front porch. Walls are usually brick, clapboard or stucco. Windows are usually double-hung with an upper and lower sash.
Minimal Traditional (1935-1950)
This style followed the Great Depression and features minimal details or decorative elements. They are often smaller and simplified versions of the Tudor style. These homes are built from wood, brick or stone with no overhanging eaves and prominent chimneys. They can also be identified as postwar tract development across the country.
Although a popular style across the country, the Ranch home began in California in the 1930s and increased its popularity during the 1940s. By the 1950s and 60s, the rambling floor plan, wood or brick siding, picture windows, shutters and patios dominated the new housing market.