Architectural Style Guide

Oak Hill Cottage

Gothic Revival

Gothic Revival was a typically rural style popular in America between 1840 – 1870.  It began in England when in 1749 Sir Henry Wallace sparked the Picturesque movement with a medieval inspired remodel of his country house. 

The first American model was built in 1832.  Designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, whose book Rural Residences was the first house plan book published in this country.  Davis’s book had limited success but strongly influenced his friend Andrew Jackson Downing to embrace the Gothic style.  Downing’s book Cottage Residences (1850) was better publicized and received.

Defining elements include windows which though they may be boxy, pointed, singular or clustered often will be crowned with a projection called a drip-mold.  Bay and oriel windows are also often spotted on Gothic Revival homes.  Decorative vergeboards, cross-bracing, polychrome details, forward facing gables singularly or in multiples and elaborately embellished porches are typical of the style. 

Construction may be of stone, brick or wood, as in the case of Carpenter Gothic homes, which sometimes feature vertically hung board-and-batten siding.


Italianate architecture is cubic in form, meaning it can be visually separated into several box like areas.  The focus of this style is on a vertical expression with an emphasis on height over width. Cupolas and towers often add to the height although the roof massing does not, as Italianate houses generally have flatter hipped roofs.


The earliest examples date from the 1830’s although the majority were built after 1855, the style is considered to be born from the  English Picturesque movement.  Intended to be sited in both rural and urban settings, this advantage helped to edge it’s rural leaning Picturesque sibling the Gothic Revival in popularity during the 1860’s.


Additional defining features include brackets, quoins, balustrades, ionic columns, tall and often narrow and commonly arched or curved pedimented windows, heavy cornice work.  They are rarely less than two stories tall and have wide overhanging eaves  which create quite an effect when paired with the  aforementioned brackets.


While the Picturesque movement idealized rambling Italian villas, elements of the style were well suited to townhomes and storefronts.   Because of this Italianates are often seen lining the streets of urban centers mingled with urban adapted Second Empire neighbors.

O.H. Booth House

Second Empire

The dominant American style from 1860 – 1880 (though examples go back to roughly 1855) Second Empire is synonymous with the Reconstruction Era.  It was used so often for public buildings during the Grant administration that it was facetiously called the General Grant Style and was considered modern at the time.  the panic and subsequent recession of 1873 coincided with the decline of built examples.


The distinctive Mansard roof is the single most defining feature of a Second Empire building.  This type of roof was heralded for increasing usability in attic areas and urban dwellers used the spaces for everything from servants quarters or apartments to ballrooms.


Notably similar to the Picturesque Italianate, Second Empire buildings also tend to feature decorative brackets and wide roof overhangs, cupolas and central towers.  More specific to the style is the presence of dormer windows, metal crestings and patterned shingles.


The Richland County Chamber of Commerce is located in a Landmark status Second Empire building which also has Gothic elements, the Orin H. Booth/Dr. Craig House.  The most famous Second Empire home award would likely go to Alfred Hitchcock’s Bates Motel, though it is unfortunately just a movie set.


History of the Booth/Dr. Craig House

Former Richland Blueprint


With advances in technology, including steam and coal power, and the ensuing Industrial Revolution came the explosion of building structures to specifically support industrialized processes.


Examples of Industrial use buildings include breweries, distilleries, gristmills, forges, factories, power plants, foundries, refineries, saw and steel mills, warehouses and shipyards.  Transportation buildings tended to also be built similarly, housing trains and streetcars and creating  space for their maintenance and repair.


Often made of brick or concrete and supported by massive steel or incredibly large wooden beams, the impressive way in which they were constructed allowed for huge open work and storage spaces.  Windows were usually large and also constructed of steel.  Glass block began to be used and was particularly popular in streamline structures built during the Modernist era.  In many ways Industrial use design was foundational to the Form Follows Function ideals of the International Style.

For more on local Industry visit the North Central Ohio Industrial Museum which is located within Mansfield’s Ohio State Reformatory.

Queen Anne

One of the many styles within the long reign of Queen Victoria, elaborate Queen Anne homes are often thought of as quintessentially Victorian, though it bears little resemblance to the formal Renaissance architecture of Queen Anne’s time.


The earliest 1870’s examples were often half-timbered but by 1880 they had hit their stride and were being built with the styles signature spindlework.  Queen Anne never abruptly fell out of fashion but instead evolved into the Asymmetrical Subtype of Colonial Revival around 1910.


So…is it a Queen Anne? Besides the spindlework present in half of all examples, look for a steeply pitched roof, front facing gable(s), decoratively patterned wood siding shingles or slate roof, towers which may be round or polygonal (most common) or square, though square can signal Stick Style. Flat walls were avoided, cantilevered gables, cutaway bay windows, overhangs and porches which often wrapped around a corner broke the space.  Wall materials were often combined for decorative effect.


Decorative detailing subtypes include Free Classic identified by Palladian windows, a small window stacked over a main window, classic columns and dentil molding.  Spindlework which is sometimes referred to as Eastlake or gingerbread ornamentation.  Half-Timbered which shares features with early Tudor houses and Patterned Masonry which have a brick exterior, are usually very high style and urban built.


Popular from roughly 1880 – 1900 and most often found in Northeastern states, the Shingle style was a uniquely American adaptation of other styles with three main influences.


From Queen Anne; wide porches, shingled surfaces, asymmetrical forms. From Colonial Revival; gambrel roofs, rambling lean-to additions, classical columns and Palladian windows. From Richardsonian Romanesque; stone, especially on lower stories, visually heavy Romanesque arches and an emphasis on irregular sculpted shapes.


Originally the roofing material was often wood but has usually been substituted by modern materials. Wall shingles will turn the corner rather than being interrupted by corner boards.  Although the style often has elaborate porches they may be small or absent from urban examples.

Colonial Revival

One of the most all encompassing and popular American styles, the Colonial Revival is the umbrella to many well known and beloved substyles, including Federal, Adam, Georgian, Dutch, Garrison, Classic Box, Cape Cod, Spanish and Asymmetrical.

Spanning from roughly 1880 – 1955 Colonial Revival never truly faded in popularity but instead rolled into what is now referred to as Neocolonial.
The style which began as a romanticized reaction to the Philadelphia Centennial celebration of 1876 has defining features which often include an accentuated front door with a pediment or fanlights, symetrical massing and features, multi-paned windows, side gabled or gambrel roof, pilasters, dormer windows and a traditional feel.

Sears Fullerton


Primarily inspired by the work of two brothers from California who were heavily influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement and oriental wooden architecture, the Craftsman Style was predominant from 1905 through the early 1920’s and is well represented in several Mansfield neighborhoods.


Inspired by “ultimate bungalows” and spread by popular magazines and plan books, Craftsman homes were often built as family homes and were available in kit form. Exemplary models include the Sears Arlington, Elmwood and Shadow Lawn as well as Aladdin’s Marsden and Massachusetts.


Craftsman style houses are usually of wood clapboard or shingle siding but are also found in stone, brick, concrete block or stucco. Roofs will usually have wide eaves and might feature exposed rafter tails and/or knee braces and have a low pitch . Windows are plentiful and often grouped, porches are large and may have imposing supports. Tudor half-timbering or Swiss balustrades may be seen. Natural woodwork and earthy colors were typical in Craftsman homes.

American Foursquare

The American Foursquare was a 25 year phenom response to a housing boom between 1895 to 1929. Economical, easy to build and well suited to small lots and prefabrication they evolved from Prairie and Craftsman principals and often retained elements of either or interpreted older styles.


Catalog home kit models are in abundance and include the Sears Fullerton, Auburn, Clarissa and Garfield, the Wardway Homes “splendid” Warrenton and the Gordon VanTine Ames.


The hallmarks of the style include it’s boxy shape, generally being a tall cube with two stories and a hipped or steeply pyramidal roof often made usable by dormer windows. Sometimes a midline banding of wood will separate the floors and each will have a differing siding material such as brick, clapboard or stone veneer below with shakes above.  A wide front porch is common and inside you may be lucky to find built-in bookcases or room dividing colonnades.


Tudor, or more accurately American Tudor Revival was a popular building style across income levels from 1890 waning into the 1940’s.  Large examples include Stan Hywett and the aptly named Tudor House in Akron.  Members of the working class built smaller versions or could order their own mini manors through a Sears catalog and have models such as the Willard delivered by train.


These usually domestic dwellings were inspired by Medieval and Postmedieval English structures.  Characterized by having steeply pitched roofs, prominent chimneys and chimneypots, asymmetrical facades, multiple gables, tall and slender multi-paned windows which were often casement style, windows grouped together in a ribbon, false half timbering combined with stucco or brick elements, distinctive vergeboards, doorway surrounds of cut stone and the occasional castellated or parapeted gable.  A whimsical variant exists in the Storybook style which may even appear to be crooked or have a thatched roof.


There are 5 styles falling within the height of the Mediterranean Period during 1890 – 1955 though the styles are still built today. The most commonly found in our geographical location would be Italian Renaissance (Revival), Spanish Eclectic and Mission, with Monterey and Pueblo Revival more common in the western US and not described below.


Common features of the three include stucco, stone or brick surfaces, low pitched tiled roofs and arches. Spanish Eclectic is typically asymmetrical, the formal Italian Renaissance is typically symmetrical and Mission may be either. The styles have shared elements and it can be  difficult to distinguish Spanish Eclectic from Mission.
Differentiating features include classical columns, quoins, pediments, pilasters roof-line parapet or balustrades (IR), wide eaves, bell towers, porches and parapets (M) multi-level roofs, chimney tops, heavy tile use, towers, fountains and arcaded walkways (SE).

Old Dominion Electric


For the roughly two decades of the 1920’s and 30’s Modernist styles ran concurrent to the Machines for Living of the International style.


The earlier Art Deco found much popularity in public and commercial settings and apartment buildings though was rarely utilized for single family homes. Identified by highly stylized and geometric decoration it had a vertical emphasis. As with Art Moderne smooth stucco walls were common.


Art Moderne is differentiated by it’s horizontal emphasis, flat roofs and asymmetrical facades. Curved corners may have windows or banks of glass block which follow the curve. Small round windows are common. The streamlined effect was achieved when it could be felt that airstreams could flow easily across the surface, taking cues from modern transportation.


An American design movement spanning architecture, interiors, products, graphic design and urban development Mid-Century Modern spanned the post-WWII period of beginning roughly 1945 – 1969. While true MCM varies from being simply “mid-century” by not taking design cues from prior styles we will include variants for simplicity..and fun!


By the early 1950’s simplified versions of previous styles now identified as being Minimalist Traditional gave way to the Ranch style which dominated building through the 1960’s. These one story houses had low pitched roofs, broad facades and sometimes hinted to colonial influences in the form of porches or shutters. More Contemporary versions may have flat roofs or very low front facing gables, wide eaves and large windows and are usually considered more typically MCM.


The 1950’s also saw the rise of the Split Level with half story wings and sunken garages, the levels meant to separate modern TV centric life into quiet and noisy zones.

Mansfield Art Center


When Cleveland born architect Philip Johnson brought what he coined the International Style to Ohio in 1932 he likely never imagined he would be at the end of his life designing in the reactionary style against it, though this speaks to the length of his career.  The utopian social experiment that simplified our cities and homes to concrete and glass boxes was eventually found to not be as wonderful as all had hoped. Form followed function until the 1960’s when things got weird and so did architecture.


With Urban Renewal laying waste to swaths of historic neighborhoods for these boxes and roads architects began to re-examine decoration and delightful-ness.   Googie architecture, a subset of MCM exemplified by glowing atomic neon motels, sparked a revolution that would become Postmodernism, the style that isn’t.  What we may consider it’s architects were resisting labels and designing in new ways with old elements, while the Brutalists kept the boxes.  Postmodernism might be the lump of everything after Modernism if it wasn’t now spoken of in past tense.   The parameters vary widely because of the purposeful rejection of definition.  For example, compare the whimsical Piazza d’ Italia to the clean lined tradition of 550 Madison Ave.


The Don Hisaka designed Mansfield Art Center falls in the timeline of Postmodernism but bridges to the Brutalism he often is associated with.


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