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Tutorial on Dating the Features of Residential Architecture

Following are a few examples of residential buildings that have undergone changes and updates. It is important to be able to determine the date of the latest updates to a structure, in order to narrow the date of an historic image.

The structure in the image below is a mid-19th century Classic Cottage. At the time of its construction, which was probably around 1850, six-over-six sash windows were popular. Two-over-two windows, as seen on this house, were not generally used until the 1870s. Therefore, an historic image with this house would probably date after 1870.

Classic Cottage

Classic Cottage: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

The symmetry and Classical door surround distinguish the house below as a late 18th or early 19th century Federal style structure. The paired brackets beneath the eaves are characteristic of the 1870s Italianate style. The two-over-two windows also date after 1870. Therefore, an image with this structure would date after 1870.

Federal Style with Italianate Updates

Federal Style with Italianate Updates: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

The eaves-front symmetry, stone lintels over the windows and door, and sidelights flanking the entrance all distinguish the house below as a mid-19th century Greek Revival structure. The simplified entry porch, nine-over-one windows, large picture windows, and shutters with decorative crescent moon design all indicate Colonial Revival updates, probably from the 1920s. Therefore, an image with this structure would date after 1920.

Greek Revival with Colonial Revival Updates

Greek Revival with Colonial Revival Updates: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

The small, gable-front, 1 1/2 story massing with cornice returns distinguishes the house below as a mid-19th century Greek Revival structure. The six-over-one windows are characteristic of the Colonial Revival period, probably the 1920s. The simple front porch probably dates after the Colonial Revival period, maybe a fairly recent addition, as it does not display the Queen Anne turned posts or the Colonial Revival columns. It would be safe to say an image with this house dates after 1920, and it may be possibly to say it dates after the 1950s.

Greek Revival with Porch

Greek Revival with Porch: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

The stone lintels, cornice returns, wide entablature, triangular gable light, and door surround all distinguish this house as a mid-19th century Greek Revival structure. The addition of the bay window to the left of the door is indicative of the late 19th century, probably the Queen Anne period of the 1880s and 1890s. Therefore, an image with this house would likely date after the 1880.

Greek Revival with Bay Window

Greek Revival with Bay Window: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

The Queen Anne porch, with turned posts, brackets, and spindlework, was extremely popular during the 1880s and 1890s. A number of older structures received Queen Anne updates during this time. The following images all depict early-to-mid-19th century houses that were updated with new porches in the 1880s or 1890s.

Queen Anne Porch Addition Queen Anne Porch Addition

Queen Anne Porch Addition Queen Anne Porch Addition

Queen Anne Porch Addition Queen Anne Porch Addition

Queen Anne Porch Additions: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

In addition to the Queen Anne porch, the mid-19th century Greek Revival structure below has also received a two-story bay window typical of the Queen Anne style and one-over-one sash windows, which were introduced during the late-19th century Queen Anne period. As an aside, the door hood over the front entrance probably dates from the 1870s Italianate period. However, the Queen Anne details are the latest distinguishing additions to the house. Therefore, an image with this structure would date after the 1880s.

Greek Revival with Queen Anne Updates

Greek Revival with Queen Anne Updates: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

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