What kind of home do you have?
Just by looking at a building, you can learn a lot about it! There are different ways of looking at a building that can help an individual classify a home: the Architectural type and style.
An architectural type can be defined by a buildings function, layout, number of stories, roof shape, etc. and help determine the history of a building without any ornamentation indicating a specific style. A type of home can have a variety of architectural style elements found on them, depending on the builder/architect and the styles popular at the time.
The architectural style helps categorize a home based on the materials, design, ornamentation, roof orientation, window and door shapes, etc. making the home stand out from others.
A house does not have to be all one style, homeowners designed homes to fit what they wanted, and your home could be a mixture of a few styles, depending on how it was changed over the years. Learning about the different styles can help homeowners better understand the best ways to repair and restore their older homes. Making a change that doesn’t fit with the style of the home can lead to a home looking unbalanced and unsuitable.
Look through our information below about the different kinds of homes you may see in Northeast Ohio!
This information is currently being updated – please check back to see more styles and types of homes!
Home Types (common to Northeast Ohio)
A Cleveland Double is another name for a duplex or two-family dwelling. These particular homes were so ubiquitous in Cleveland (and the surrounding suburbs) that the nickname of “Cleveland Double” stuck. The Cleveland Double type specifically is a two-two and a half story home with two separate entrances. The home contains identical living spaces on the first and second floors. In some cases, a third apartment is located in the attic space or that is shared storage space for the residents. A key defining feature of these homes is their rectangular shape and a two story porch that generally extends the entire width of the façade. The large porches can have open railings or solid railings, and many feature a solid brick porch on the first floor with square piers.
Cleveland Doubles can be found with a variety of details and elements of architectural styles, all dependent on the builders at the time. Often, Cleveland Doubles can be found with a front-facing gable roof that can have a clipped-gable, sometimes called the jerkinhead roof. Craftsman details and unique color and siding combinations make Cleveland Doubles vary quite a bit, even when surrounded by the same type of homes.
A population boom in Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs in the early 1900s meant that there was a large demand for housing. Duplexes gave aspiring residents the opportunity to rent a home rather than moving into apartment buildings. Streetcars going into the suburbs gave developers a chance to build a lot of homes close to transportation lines that could provide housing in the suburbs without losing access to jobs in the city. Cleveland Doubles sprang up along the streetcar lines; their narrow front allowed for the homes to be closer and make the neighborhoods feel like suburbs but still have the walkability needed, since most walked home from the streetcar stop. As car became more common, suburbs began to spread out and the once common Cleveland Double was not as desirable.
An American four-square home is less of a style and more of a form. They can be decorative or fairly simple, and are identified by the pyramidal roof and four rooms on the first and four rooms on the second floors. Many different styles use a four-square form, creating a wide variety in ornamentation and design of the exterior of these homes. They began to appear in the late 1800s to 1930s, when electric streetcars brought people out of the cities and into the growing suburbs. New suburban homeowners wanted large front yards and individual homes, which the American four-square was perfectly suited.
Home Styles (common to Northeast Ohio)
Greek Revival homes were built across the United States throughout the 1820s to 1870s.Greek Revival style homes can have either gable or hipped roofs with a low pitch, and have a distinctive band of trim along the cornice lines of the main roof and porch roof (if the home has a porch). Hipped roofs typically have either an entry porch or a full-height or full-façade porch, complete with prominent classic columns. Typical of other classical styles, these homes generally have an elaborate front entry way with sidelights or transom lights around the front door and decorative crowns on the windows. Overall, these homes are symmetrically balanced and two stories, but smaller one or one-and-a-half story Greek Revivals might have frieze band windows.
Greek Revival homes were popularized by pattern books of the time promoting the easy and variability of the style. Since the style spread throughout the United States, there are quite a few regional differences throughout the country. Cleveland, and its surrounding suburbs, grew during the 1830s and embraced the spread of Greek Revival architecture. Dunham Tavern on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland is one of the oldest residential buildings in the city and has the distinctive elements of Greek Revival so popular at the time. These homes stood out as the dominant domestic architecture during those decades. They were fairly easy to duplicate, had ornamentation even on the simplest home, and were well built.
Second Empire homes were popular from the 1860s to 1880s. The style comes from French architecture and is sometimes called “Mansard” style. The “Mansard” name comes from the distinct roof style found on these homes. The roofline drops steeply and dormer windows are set into the roofline. These homes also can have decorative brackets along the roofline and ornate window and door surrounds. They are similar to Italianate homes in their size and shape, and can sometimes have a small porch or a one-story full-width porch.
Queen Anne style homes are an explosion of décor! These Victorian homes were popular in the mid-1880s to the mid-1890s and are a version of English Elizabethan architecture. Porches, balconies, towers, bay windows, large chimney, and multiple types of siding and colors can be found on Queen Anne style homes. Delicate spindles and decorated gables make Queen Anne’s stand out. They are historically painted a variety of colors as well! Other styles branched off from the Queen Anne distinctiveness and became their own recognized style. The shingle style home is similar to a Queen Anne but can be differentiated by the use of shingles throughout the siding and roof. Richardsonian Romanesque homes have many similarities to Queen Anne homes but are stone. These homes were designed to look heavy, and have much of their exterior clad in heavy stone.
Colonial Revival homes were popular from around 1880-1955. On the exterior, these homes come in a wide variety, but some similarities include the side gable, accentuated front door, double hung windows, and classic ornamentation. Front doors generally have sidelights or overhead fanlights and are commonly centered. Windows can be found in pairs and generally are double-hung sashes with multi-pane glazing in one or both sashes. Palladian windows can be found on the homes as well. Porches can be supported by large columns that have pediments inspired by Greek and Roman temples. Colonial Revival homes have a balanced façade that may or may not be symmetrical but some are asymmetrical; influenced by the Queen Anne style or by the desire to include an attached garage.
Colonial Revival homes spawned a variety of styles that have enough differences in design that they have become subtypes in the Colonial Revival style. One popular subtype is the Dutch Colonial. These home were very popular in the 1920s and 1930s and can be easily identified by their gambrel roof and shed dormer. Sometimes these homes have a Federal or Georgian entry detail. The Garrison Colonial Revival is another subtype that is very common in the 1930s-1950s. It has a distinctive second story overhang, sometimes with pendant ornaments at the corners of the overhang. These homes still have the symmetrical balance found in all Colonial Revivals, and in many cases has a brick veneer on the first story, or the overhang is made of wood as the overhang was difficult to replicate in brick. A one-story Colonial Revival is commonly a Cape Cod Revival. Cape Cod Revivals have a side gable roof and can have dormers. Colonial elements, such as fanlights or sidelights around the door, pediments above the dormers or door and paired windows can all be found on many Cape Cod Revivals.
Colonial Revival homes were a new version of the colonial heritage and a growing interest in the English and Dutch architecture on the eastern seaboard. The Philadelphia Centennial of 1876 brought a renewed interest in the heritage of the United States, and that interest made its way into the architectural patterns for the next 50+ years. Colonial Revival style homes have elements of Federal and Georgian architecture, but updated for the times. This was a prominent style built through the first half of the twentieth century.
Colonial Revival homes run the gamut from perfectly mimicking original colonial architecture, to being influenced by competing styles and trends to barely resemble what it is modeled after. The ease of building the simple box frame meant that these homes were very popular and commonly built during the first and second World Wars.
Neoclassical style homes have many similarities to Greek Revival and other Classical Revival homes in the shape, columns, and symmetry, but Neoclassical homes are in a class of themselves. The style can be identified by a façade reminiscent of Greek or Roman temples. A full height porch supported by columns, generally capped with Ionic or Corinthian capitals. The porch can be a centered entry porch, full façade, front gabled, or a full height entry porch with lower full-width porches one story tall. Façades are generally symmetrically balanced, and most Neoclassical style homes are two or two-and-a-half stories, but one story homes are found as well. Porches on Neoclassical style homes can have a pediment and front gable roof, similar to Greek Revival style, or a flat roof. Some variations also have a curved, semi-circular entry porch.
Porches are not the only way to identify a Neoclassical style home, the style also features decorative door surrounds that can include sidelights, fanlights, and pediments. In some cases, a broken pediment sits above the door and windows. Windows on Neoclassical style homes are generally double hung sashes, in a variety of styles. Windows on Neoclassical style homes can be found in many configurations, such as Palladian windows, paired or triple windows, transomed, or bay windows, and that variety separates the Neoclassical style from the Greek Revival and Classical Revival styles.
The Neoclassical style grow in popularity thanks to the 1893 Columbian World Exposition in Chicago. The theme for the exposition was classical, and architects and designers looked to the classical architecture and added dramatic porches and colonnades to create the Neoclassical look today. This was a time of looking back to the founding of the United States, and the Roman and Greek democracies. Neoclassical style homes are generally brick with boxed eaves and an overhang. The cornice can have a wide frieze band beneath it, and ornamentation of dentils or modillions can be found. Some Neoclassical style homes have roof-line balustrades. The style itself mixes Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Classical Revival styles to create the differences found in Neoclassical style homes.
Prairie homes were constructed from about 1900-1920. These homes were generally two-stories, with one-story wings, porches, or porte cocheres. The low-pitched rooflines generally were hipped, though were occasionally gabled. These homes also feature wide overhanging eaves and a prominent emphasis on horizontality to blend with the natural landscape of the Midwest – notable through emphasis on the eaves, cornices, and other façade details. This horizontality was meant to be an organic expression of the building’s location. Prairie houses often included restrained geometrical or floral details, long rows of windows, broad chimneys, contrasting wall materials, and, almost always, massive square porch supports. Houses built in this style can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.
One of the earliest house forms associated with the Prairie style was the American Foursquare. These homes were of a simple square or rectangular plan, with a low pitched hipped roof and symmetrical façade. While the main house form was clearly the principal structure, there could be smaller, subsidiary wings and porches. Vernacular versions of this style usually take the American Foursquare form, with hipped dormers and full-width single story front porches. High style Prairie homes are often more asymmetrical in form, with a hidden entryway.
Originating in Chicago in the early 20th century, the Prairie home is one of the truly American house styles. The style was practiced by a group of architects known as the Prairie School, the most famous of whom is Frank Lloyd Wright. These architects were especially interested in creating a regionally suitable style or architecture and, while the style certainly can be found across the country, most examples today are seen around Chicago and other cities in the Midwest. As with the Arts and Crafts movement, the Prairie home emphasized high quality craftsmanship and nature in its design. Most homes in the Prairie style were built between 1905 and 1915, not surviving much past World War One. While the style itself only saw popularity for about twenty years, its impacts can certainly be seen in later examples of modern architecture.
Craftsman style homes were popular from 1905-1950. On the exterior, these homes often feature wide, overhanging eaves, exposed rafters, low-pitched roofs extending over a front porch, knee braces, and multi-paned over single-paned windows. While the majority of Craftsman houses are front or side gabled, cross-gabled roofs or, more rarely, hipped roofs are also possible. Natural wood, fireplaces, and built-in storage are popular characteristics found on the interior of these homes.
Many Craftsman homes are built using the bungalow form. These are usually simple, one to one-and-a-half story (certainly no more than two) buildings with low pitched gable roofs and prominent front porches. They generally stress horizontality, and seek to relate to the surrounding nature. While bungalows are found in a variety of styles, such as Spanish Revival and Swiss Chalet, Craftsman bungalows were a very popular paired type and style.
The Craftsman style home in America grew out of the British Arts and Crafts movement, which developed in opposition to the Industrial Revolution and cheap, mass production. This movement stressed natural materials, handicraft, simplicity, and functionality. This movement in America, however, eventually came to embrace the cost effectiveness of machine production to produce high quality home furnishings and construction materials which could be made more widely available to the middle class.
The Minimal Traditional house style saw tremendous popularity between 1935 and 1950. While they could draw on Colonial and Tudor ideas, the small, usually one-story gabled homes stressed simplicity in the architectural form and details. Roof eaves generally had little overhang, needless gables and dormers were avoided, and ornate cornices were eliminated. Small porches, bay windows, and shutters were sometimes included. On the interior, the Minimal Traditional home again echoed earlier styles with simplified versions of built-ins, cabinetry, and woodwork.
One popular associated house form is a Cape Cod, a notable symbol of colonial America. These homes are exclusively one story with a side gabled roof. They could be symmetrical or asymmetrical, with the front entry off centered, small porches, or carports featured. The Cape Cod, a small, economical home, was mass produced and widely published in magazines throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
These homes were able to meet the needs for builders and homeowners and maintained their presence through several distinct periods in the 1930s and 1940s. During the Great Depression, home building essentially ceased. The Minimal Traditional home, however, met efficiency and affordability needs of many working and middle class families. These homes were able to be built with Federal Housing Administration insured loans during this period. Later, in the early 1940s, these homes became the answer to an increased need for worker housing built quickly near production plants gearing up for World War II. During this period, 2.3 million homes were built between 1940 and 1945. Again, these homes were needed to address the increased demand for homes to fulfill a GI Bill promise for housing for returning servicemen. Between 1946 and 1949, an additional 5.1 million homes were built. Many of the homes built in the 1940s were of this style. By 1950, however, the construction of the Ranch House overtook the Minimal Traditional as post-war prosperity allowed for larger homes to be built.
The French Eclectic house style saw its peak between 1915 and 1945. The most prominent and notable feature of this style was a tall, steeply pitched roof – usually hipped though sometimes gabled; these often featured flared eaves. Materials used generally included brick, stone, or stucco. Double-hung or casement windows can be found on these homes. Further, windows frequently break the cornice line. Segmental arches over doorways and windows were quite common, as well. As the French Eclectic style drew from a wide variety of French homes, including manor houses, grand chateaus, and farmhouses, built over many centuries, these homes can feature various details and forms.
The French Eclectic style can be found emulating a formal symmetrical French home or it can be asymmetrical and more picturesque, often referred to as a “Norman cottage.” Symmetrical examples often feature segmental or round arches over windows, dormers, and doors, as well as shutters, open balconies, and quoins. This form often carries classical detailing and is very ordered. In contrast, asymmetrical examples, often include decorative half-timbering, massive chimneys, varied roof massing and heights, and simpler doorways. These can also maintain prominent towers with conical roofs.
Homes built in the French Eclectic style were not popular in the United States prior to World War I. Before 1920, most of the French Eclectic homes that were built were of the formal symmetrical subtype, influenced by the Beaux Arts. However, many Americans became familiar with the architectural styles in France while serving in the war and the style grew throughout the 1920s. Photographs of historic villages built rebuilt post-war provided inspiration for architects and builders using this style. By 1930, however, the Tudor Style was surpassing the French Eclectic in popularity. The French Eclectic had all but faded from use after World War II and is a relatively unusual house style today.
Ranch homes, especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s, are usually asymmetrical one story houses with long, low-pitched roofs. The main entry is often off-center, and placed under the wide roof overhang of the main house. All the rooms of the house are on the ground floor, creating a long façade of “rambling” wings, frequently including an attached garage. While the form of the ranch home follows this pattern ubiquitously, detailing and decorative elements can vary greatly between houses. Exterior cladding can include wood, shingle, stone, brick, and stucco; often more than one material would be used. Subtle traditional detailing, though freely adapted, were adopted from the French, Spanish, and English Colonial styles. Most all ranches did incorporate a picture window.
One popular house form associated with the Ranch is the split-level house, which rose to popularity in the 1950s. The split-level features multiple levels of a home separated by a half flight of stairs. Often, split level ranch homes feature a sunken garage under the main unit of the house, with a wing on one side placed halfway between the main house space and the garage. This allowed for separation of living spaces, with quiet sleeping areas occurring on the top floor, the daytime uses of the living room and the kitchen on the wing, and the new noisy uses, such as the garage and a television/recreation room, on the lowest level. A split level ranch would have much the same detailing as the ranch home, just in a variated form.
The ranch home, originally established in the 1930s, really gained popularity and widespread use in the post-war era of the 1950s and 1960s. Changes occurring during this time period had large impacts on the built environment and popular house forms. Ranches built during the 1940s were generally much smaller than those built in later years. However, over time, these homes generally became bigger and more “rambling,” as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) revised building guidelines in the post-war era. Further, the increasing use of the automobile by American families allowed for the new form of the ranch home. People were moving away from cities, where builders could utilize larger lots. Ranch homes, spread out across these lots, were particularly suited for the suburban landscapes. Neighborhoods were mass-developed using similar house with slight variations in detailing and appearance.