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The Romanesque Revival House Style

Built between 1880 and 1900, these grand masonry homes have Roman arches

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A Romanesque Revival Mansion: The Ransom R. Cable House in Chicago

A Romanesque Revival Mansion: The Ransom R. Cable House in Chicago by architects Cobb & Frost, 1881-1898. See a larger view

A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library. Accession Number: 15/5/3090.00164 Ellis Mansion, 1884, Richardson Romanesque style designed by Albert Fuller, Schenectady, NY

Ellis Mansion, 1884, Richardson Romanesque style designed by Albert Fuller, Schenectady, NY

A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library. Accession Number: 15/5/3090.00164 Stone wall, Roman arch, and heavy wooden door entrance to the Glessner House in Chicago

Richardson's Romanesque Glessner House, 1886, Chicago, Illinois

Photo of Romanesque entrance ©ChicagoGeek, CC BY-SA 2.0, flickr.com

During the 1870s, Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson captured the American imagination with rugged, forceful buildings like the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh and Trinity Church in Boston. These buildings were called "Romanesque" because they had wide, rounded arches like buildings in ancient Rome. Henry Hobson Richardson became so famous for his Romanesque designs that the style is often called Richardsonian Romanesque.

The heavy Romanesque Revival style was especially suited for grand public buildings. Most people could not afford to build private houses with Roman arches and massive stone walls. However, during the 1880s, a few wealthy industrialists embraced the Romanesque Revival to build elaborate and often fanciful Gilded Age mansions.

During this time, elaborate Queen Anne architecture was at the height of fashion. Also, the rambling Shingle Style became a popular choice for vacation homes, especially along the northeast coast of the USA. Not surprisingly, Romanesque Revival homes often have Queen Anne and Shingle Style details.

Romanesque Revival Features

  • Constructed of rough-faced, square stones
  • Round towers with cone-shaped roofs
  • Columns and pilasters with spirals and leaf designs
  • Low, broad "Roman" arches over arcades and doorways
  • Patterned masonry arches over windows
References
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