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American Architecture Styles

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This section is republished with permission, slightly modified from a Chicago Focus to reference general links and resources for identifying and tracing the history of your home!

Special Thanks to: The Ridge Historical Society of Chicago, IL

The Ridge Historical Society website is a free resource for students, historians and anyone interested in the area history. But in order to keep it going, please consider giving back, whether as an individual or an organization, through one of the following means, according to your financial ability.

To donate or become a member click here.

Special Feature Publication:


Ridge Historical Society of Chicago Colonial Revival Images

The Beverly-Morgan Park neighborhood contains a wide range of domestic architectural styles and vernacular and popular house types from c. 1860 through present day. Homes can be placed into the following groups: high style architecture, vernacular types and popular house types. High style architecture can be described as well defined and commonly illustrated stylistic categories. These are based on the distinctive overall massing, floor plan; materials and architectural detailing that can be identified in a building. High-style buildings may be architect-designed, but even if no professional architect was involved, these homes display a conscious attempt to incorporate common architectural characteristics in fashion during the time they were built.

Some architectural high styles are based on historic precedents. These may include buildings from the 19th century that were loosely based on styles from the past, such as Italianate and Greek Revival. It also includes the more literal historic revival styles that prevailed during the 1910s and 1920s, such as Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and others. Finally, it includes homes built during the last thirty years, from the 1970s through the Present that are a conscious interpretation of historic styles. They are sometimes referred to as Neo-Traditional because of a more literal use of historic elements.

Other high-style buildings, those that were built during the 20th century, include a variety that, generally, makes no reference to prior historic styles. Rather they look to practical massing based on the function of the building, use of modern materials, and little, if any ornament. The earliest of these is the Prairie Style fathered by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1900s. Others date from the modern period, generally after 1940, and include International Style, Art Deco, Modernistic, and Contemporary styles.

Vernacular and popular house types are generally non-stylistic and include 19th century vernacular house types whose design depends on a builder's experience and knowledge, as well as later 20th century popular house types, which were typically constructed according to widely available, published plans. Buildings not defined as high style are either considered vernacular or popular in type. 19th century an owner or builder who relied on simple, practical techniques and locally available materials for overall design and floor layout usually built vernacular buildings. Availability and locale determined the types of structural systems, materials, and millwork found in vernacular buildings. Because of this, vernacular buildings are most easily classified by their general shape, roof style, or floor plan. Occasionally, ornament characteristic of a high style such as Greek Revival or Queen Anne is applied to the facade.

Beginning in the early 20th century, plans for popular house types were widely published and made available in books and catalogues. The earliest of these 20th century popular house types was the American Foursquare, which some architectural historians suggest was influenced by the horizontality of the Prairie Style. The American Foursquare, with broad eaves and a hipped roof, was particularly popular between 1900 and 1920. Bungalows of various sorts were built throughout the U.S. until 1930. After 1935, during the modern period, popular house types included the Ranch, Raised Ranch, and Minimal Traditional. During the post-World War II years, Ranch houses were built all over the country by the hundreds of thousands. Some of the earliest Ranch houses, built in the 1930s and 1940s, are now considered historic. The Split Level began to be built in the early 1950s and was popular throughout the 1960s.

The following is a list of the types of architectural styles represented in Beverly Hills-Morgan Park. You may read about and see examples of on this website by clicking a style.

HIGH STYLE ARCHITECTURE: Gothic Revival; Italianate; Queen Anne; Shingle Style; Stick Style; Neoclassical or Classical Revival; Colonial Revival; Dutch Colonial Revival; Cape Cod; Spanish Colonial Revival; Italian Renaissance Revival; Tudor Revival; French Eclectic; Neocolonial.

19TH CENTURY VERNACULAR HOUSE TYPES: Gable Front Houses and Cottages; Gabled Ell; Gambrel Front.

MODERN STYLES: Craftsman and Craftsman Bungalow; Prairie School; Art Moderne; Art Deco; International Style; Contemporary

POPULAR 20TH CENTURY HOUSE TYPES: American Foursquare; Bungalow; Chicago Bungalow: Minimal Traditional; Ranch; Raised Ranch; Split Level; Shed; Plan Book and Pre-Cut Catalog House

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Artisans of the Valley
Hand Crafted Custom Woodworking

Stanley D. Saperstein
Eric M. Saperstein
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