What style/period is my home?


This home is no beauty by any means but we feel it has potential. As you can see it is in terrible disrepair. We are interested in fixing the home up according to its original style. However, we have not been able to figure out what style it is. We were told it was built in the early 1900’s and have had some locals tell us it was built as a hospital during the civil war. It sits on twenty acres but originally sat on several hundred. Most of the interior woodwork has been replaced with 1980’s style yuk but I believe some of the original wood work is still around some of the doors. Unfortunately there are no homes around us to help us determine more about our own home. Any clues and helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. And no, tearing it down is not helpful advice.

May 11, 13 11:45 am

Style?  It has no style.  Period?  Yes, it's on its period.

It's Saturday AM and I'm being a smart ass.

The house is something a draftsman/woman/other entity came up with.  That is not the work of an architect.

In terms of sprucing it up, you might embellish it via some hybrid of elements which might be traditional and/or Craftsman.  The first think you need to do is beef up those posts on the porch, even if only by scabbing on studs and tacking on trim.  Another thing is that lone window in the front could be turned into a pair of adjacent windows, or a central window with two "side lites," space permitting and leaving enough solid wall at the flanks. You also need trim above that window and the porch soffit to close the ridiculous gap with the eaves. The reason Craftsman might be tricky here is because the roof is all hips and the true-to-form Craftsman displays a gable or two, even if gratuitous.  However, your roof pitch is shallow enough that Craftsman elements would be in synch.  Also, a smaller window adjacent to the front door, even if a small decorative one with a sill height that is majorly above the porch, would be helpful. And it doesn't matter if there's a closet right there ... a small opening would look better.

So, it's just a basic utilitarian house.  You can work on: (a) beefing up the posts on the porch, (b) window revisions on the front, (c) the addition of window trim to fill up space, and (d) change the front door, picking one with a lite that would complement the rest of your changes.  Don't do a half-ass job, because it won't be worth the money and trouble.  Get help from someone who has a good eye, can coordinate the style of the elements picked, and has done this before.  Also, these are easy fixes to draw up, and they should not charge you much ...or tell them to take a hike.

Happy Mother's Day.

May 11, 13 12:05 pm

Tear it down?  Never!  This is a great little house.  And that razor-sharp hip roof is fantastic.

Without enough time to comment at length, the one exterior suggestion I offer (also in agreement w/ Observant's above for a porch window) is to replace those spindly porch posts with fatter ones, tapering toward the top.

May 11, 13 2:01 pm

like the other poster said, it doesn't have a style, so you could basically do whatever you want to it.  just understand that adding stuff that's supposed to make it look good doesn't mean it'll look good.  if you cheap out on things it'll probably look just as good when you're done as it did when you started.

If it were me I would play with the deck a bit (check out houzz or some other websites), and then add some trim to the windows, corners, and other places, painted a different color than the house.  Maybe change the doors and windows like others have said.  And landscaping counts for a lot.  that's basically what you can do if you aren't thinking of moving walls or adding dormers or anything (although a couple more windows in the front  in addition to the other suggestions would definitely break up the facade more).

May 11, 13 3:26 pm

I’m very interested in this type of building, which is what would be called vernacular.  Incidentally, my great grandparents lived in this type of house, which is still in the family.  As the other posters have said, this house would not have involved an architect.  It would have focused on function more than style.  That said, when this house was built it would have been respectable.

I’m going to speculate about the previous state of the house, based on the photos you’ve posted and based on the time frame in which it was built.  First, the porch probably once spanned across the entire front and that section was later closed in.  The front was likely symmetrical, or close to it, which would have given the house a stripped down, classical feel.  Unless the roof has been restructured (not likely, but possible), anything under the hip roof is likely part of the original footprint, because hip roofs are harder to modify.  Obviously, the rear sections are added.  The trim around the doors appears original, the egg and dart trim at the top was probably added.  The first door trim looks original.

Now, what I’d do.  First, I’m going to recommend a book that quickly covers American vernacular architecture.  There are several pictures of this type of house in this book that can give you ideas.

I agree with the comments about the posts and also think additional windows would improve the front.  Personally, I don’t agree with the comments about adding Craftsman details.  I would try to embrace the stripped down, classical character that was likely once present.  Also, if you ever replace the siding, I would go with a siding that has a finer texture.  You might even consider replacing just the siding on the front with something finer to add detail.

Your house is basically a scaled-down version of this:

This picture is from:

May 11, 13 4:04 pm

All good suggestions up above.  Right, all sorts of trim can be added (corner boards, etc.) in addition to the other trims mentioned above.

Now, a lot of people may look at those home magazines found at B&N or Borders dismissively, but those are plans often generated by architects or professional residential designers who know their craft.  Pick up styling cues from those.  The problem, again, is the coordination of the elements for which someone skilled in design is needed, since you can end up with a piece of shit if you mix and match.  I think "traditional" (rectilinear trim - basically popular house vernacular) is the best for this case, as opposed to more "historical" or regional Craftsman,  Victorian/Queen Anne/stick, or Second Empire styles.  Since the basic massing of the house is so simple, the choice of style to revamp the house should be as well.

Should be a fun project.  And, btw, the dog seems like a good sport.

May 11, 13 4:06 pm

The problem, again, is the coordination of the elements for which someone skilled in design is needed, since you can end up with a piece of shit if you mix and match.

FYI, OP, this means hire an architect.

May 12, 13 2:17 am

if this was built in the early 1900s, it wasn't a hospital in the civil war, which ended in 1865 (assuming american).  it looks like a poured concrete foundation to me.  i don't think poured concrete was very common in the early 1900s.  honestly, i suspect there really isn't any history to your house at all, but that's just speculation.  if i were you, i would focus on building my own history.

i also kind of think the person who buys this house is not typically the person who can afford a lot of expensive upgrades.  i would advise cleaning out the cobwebs, refinish and restain the woodwork, and plant some shrubs.  if the attic insulation is inadequate, add some of that.

May 12, 13 9:21 am

Houses of that period often had foundations of cement / concrete over rubble fill, parged above grade. Cracked plaster (certainly on wood lathe and probably w/o insulation) and (formerly) 5-panel door (now with glass replacing the top panels) and plinth-style casing attest to the period.

The other door is clearly recent as demonstrated by planer marks and factory crown. I'm guessing cheap replacement windows and vinyl siding. Also at least one, and probably two additions on on the back. Hard to tell much from a couple of snaps especially when the juicy stuff (kitchen / bath / etc.) is missing.

OP needs building inspection, property analysis and detailed program including budget to establish parameters and viability, as well as someone capable of putting all the together. If it's just a face lift they're wasting their time and money, unless of course they're specing it for resale and looking here for free advice.

May 12, 13 12:26 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

I'd call it a builder's craftsman.  It's really typical of a lot of builder's houses from the early part of the century.  It looks to me that the siding has been replaced, because it's a bit unusual for the period to have the siding run over the beams and above the posts at the porch.  I love the roof.

If it were mine I'd add some classical details in wood:  An entablature band at the top of posts, which could wrap the entire house, some simple Doric columns at the porch, simple corner pilasters, etc.  if I have some time I'll post a sketch...

i think the house actually has nice proportions, and a charming simplicity, it just needs some love. :)

May 12, 13 1:47 pm

Yes, Miles, I think there's more here than meets the eye.

We've provided the icing on the cake based on a few photos, but we don't know what's going on in the interior.  The part that also gets to me is that "add on" in the back.  In plan, and based on what it looks like internally, that could be an area requiring major work.

I don't think that a complete overhaul is going to be cheap.  Sure, you can do some things taking it closer to what the exterior of homes in those "One Story Floor Plan" magazines might look like, but I'm sure more will be needed.  So, yes, not only will you need someone to identify all these things, you'll also need someone who is sharp with the pencil.

May 12, 13 2:25 pm

Thank you all for your advice. We bought the place as a "country home" because the land is fantastic. We did have a structural engineer friend go through the home and we already know we are in for quite a bit of work and expense. Parts of the foundation have been replaced but most of it looks like a rocky concrete mix.  jw468, thank you for the advice on the books. They are a great starting place. The roof is being replaced this spring and we do plan on adding some dormers. Sounds like we have a blank slate to work with. My main goal is to try to use similar materials to what was originally used on the house, hence needing to have a good idea of the time period it was built. I detest vinyl siding and hate the new replacement windows that were installed before we bought it. All this will be changed in time. Again, thanks for the advice everyone.

May 12, 13 3:11 pm

You're welcome!

When I posted yesterday, I was having some trouble finding a photo of what I was after, but I finally found one.  If you follow the link below, I suspect that this is similar to how your house once looked:

May 12, 13 5:32 pm
boy in a well

c'mon people

I know what you're thinking

how bout some hot solid-void action in that domestic prism!

maybe a little hdm?



May 14, 13 12:56 am

The design of this house looks pretty simple for me; however it is very attractive. I really don't have any idea about its style and period, but I would love to live in a house like this. 

May 14, 13 7:19 am

The style is called "Shit".

Jul 9, 16 8:09 am

Now this house looks not very much)) but potentially he will look like

Just one pic:

Jul 9, 16 11:34 am

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