Have you ever noticed that Victorian style homes can look wildly different from each other? That’s because Victorian style homes actually refers to a time period and not one specific style of home. There were many architectural styles that became popular in the United States when Queen Victoria ruled Great Britain (1837-1901). Each of these styles draw inspiration from European architecture and are showcased in homes built between in America during this time period.
The Historic Old West End in Toledo is one of my favorite neighborhoods to walk through and admire old, historic homes. You can find every type of Victorian style home within a few blocks from each other and each one has a unique story. I have created a guide to easily identify the 5 most popular Victorian style homes. These include Gothic Revival, Queen Ann, Folk Victorian, Italianate and Second Empire styles.
I totally geek out when it comes to learning about history and even started listening to a podcast about Queen Victoria. This useful guide is sure to earn you some points at your next trivia night!
Five Popular Victorian Style Homes
This style of home often looks like a castle. Gothic revival style homes draw inspiration from architecture during the Medieval times. This style was most popular from 1840-1880 with homes and churches and predominantly built in rural areas.
- Pointed arches
- Stained glass windows
- Steeply pitched gables
- Quatrefoil and clover shaped windows
- Battlements & shaped parapets
The Italianate style is one of the most popular Victorian styles of the era. This style drew its inspiration from villas in Italy and became popular in the US after the Civil War. You can also find this style on commercial buildings on many Main Streets of historic downtown areas in the Midwest.
- Deep overhangs with ornamental brackets
- 2-3 story homes
- Made of brick or clapboard
- Low pitched roof
- Tall narrow windows (often arched above)
- Porch with decorative columns
The Queen Ann style was popularized by the architect Norman Shaw in the 1880’s. This style is what most people think of when they picture a Victorian style home. The Queen Ann style also inspired the Arts & Crafts style movement that came later in the early 1900’s.
- Asymmetrical & eclectic ornamental detail
- Steep pitches & irregularly shaped roof
- Patterned roof shingles
- Multiple gables and dormers, sometimes towers or turrets
- Differing wall textures
- Typically built with wood (not brick)
- Wrap around porches
Second Empire/Mansard Style
The Second Empire style draws its architectural inspiration from France and became popular in the US during the 1860’s and 1870’s. Another term commonly used for this style home was the “General Grant Style” as it gained popularity after the Civil War.
- Mansard Roof
- Patterned shingle roof
- Dormers in the roof for light on top floor
- Pavilion one story porches
- Tower (sometimes)
Folk Victorian style homes are like if the Queen Ann and a farmhouse had a baby. From 1870-1900 you saw the folk style homes popping up all over the United States. This style includes ornate detailing on the exterior similar to the Queen Ann. The difference between Queen and and Folk style came from the interior design. The interior of Folk Victorian homes were built for function and practicality.
- Modest detailing – less flashy than the Queen Ann Style
- Affordable to the masses
- Symmetrical design (typically)
- No towers or turrets
- Ornate detail primarily on the porch
What is your favorite Victorian style home?