1. Home

1870 - 1910: Folk Victorian

Vernacular Architecture From the Machine Age


Just plain folk could afford these simple North American homes, built between 1870 and 1910.
Folk Victorian House in New Hampshire

Folk Victorian House in Sandwich, New Hampshire

Photo ©2005 Jackie Craven

Folk Victorian houses usually have these features:

  • Square, symmetrical shape
  • Brackets under the eaves
  • Porches with spindlework or flat, jigsaw cut trim

Some Folk Victorian homes have:

About the Folk Victorian House Style:

Life was simple before the age of railroads. In the vast, remote stretches of North America, families built no-fuss, square or L-shaped houses in the National or Folk style. But the rise of industrialization made it easier and more affordable to add decorative details to otherwise simple homes. Decorative architectural trim could be mass produced. As the railroads expanded, factory-made building parts could be sent to far corners of the continent.

Also, small towns could now obtain sophisticated woodworking machinery. A crate of scrolled brackets might find its way to Kansas or Wyoming, where carpenters could mix and match the pieces according to personal whim... Or, according to what happened to be in the latest shipment.

Many Folk Victorian houses were adorned with flat, jigsaw cut trim in a variety of patterns. Others had spindles, gingerbread and details borrowed from the Carpenter Gothic style. With their spindles and porches, some Folk Victorian homes may suggest Queen Anne architecture. But unlike Queen Annes, Folk Victorian houses are orderly and symmetrical houses. They do not have towers, bay windows, or elaborate moldings.

Learn more from the About.com Video: Characteristics of a Folk Victorian Home.

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Architecture

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.