9 Victorian Homes We Love

The Victorian era, named for the English Queen, extends throughout the period of the monarch's long reign, from 1837 to 1901. Victorian architecture encompasses the many styles that came into fashion during those six decades, and the American interpretation of those styles often reflected the adventuresome American spirit. From the ornate Greek and Gothic Revival styles to the whimsical gingerbread-cottage look, Victorian architecture, although novel, had its roots in history. It owed its popularity and rapid spread, however, to modern technology. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries came mass-produced building materials that could now be delivered over long distances. Victorian home builders who might have previously eschewed handcrafted architectural detailing now had affordable alternatives, and their clients embraced the opportunity to embellish their simple farmhouses and grand manor homes with romantic decoration. Here are some quintessential examples of American Victorian homes.

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  1. Victorian Stick


    This Victorian Stick house, known as the Parrott-Camp-Soucy House, was originally built in the Greek Revival style but was renovated and revised in the 1880s. In addition to typical Second Empire Victorian elements, such as the mansard roof, wrought-iron detailing, and projecting dormers, this Newnan, Georgia, home features exterior stickwork (or half-timbering), for which its style is named.

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  2. Seaside Victorian


    After a devastating fire in 1878, the town of Cape May, New Jersey, reinvented itself as a Victorian seaside holiday destination. The Pink House, also known as the Eldridge Johnson House, was built in 1892 and was moved to its present location in the 1970s. Victorian embellishments include a riot of fanciful porch detailing and decorative window cornices.

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  3. Queen Anne Victorian


    The Charles and Anna Drain House in Drain, Oregon, was designed by architect George Franklin in the Queen Anne style, which was popular late in the Victorian era, from about 1880 to 1910. The most romantic of the American Victorian styles, Queen Annes often feature asymmetrical facades, front-facing gables with overhangs, elaborate gingerbread detailing, turrets, and front porches.

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  4. Victorian Octagon


    Overlooking the Hudson River, the Armour-Stiner house in Irvington, New York, is based on the architectural ideas of Orson Squire Fowler, an amateur architect who inspired a brief octagon-building craze during the Victorian era. The domed residence features such Victorian elements as a cupola, decorative scrollwork, iron pinnacles, projecting dormers, corbels, and of course, a whimsical porch with paired columns.

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  5. Second Empire Victorian


    The William H. Davenport House in Saline, Michigan, is an excellent example of Second Empire Victorian architecture. The home’s distinctive mansard roof is the Second Empire architectural element that differentiates it from Victorian Italianate design. The narrow eaves with supportive corbels, tall windows, projecting dormers, and small entry porch are also typical of Second Empire Victorian homes.

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  6. Painted Ladies


    Just a sampling of the thousands of Victorian homes built in San Francisco, California, in the late 1800s, this row of Italianate Victorian houses was transformed with vibrant color in the mid-20th century. Dubbed the “Painted Ladies,” the lively exteriors of these Victorian homes feature three or more colors that highlight their architectural details.

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  7. Chateauesque Victorian


    The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk, Connecticut, is a Second Empire Victorian constructed on such a grand scale that it has been referred to as an American castle. Built on the shore of Long Island Sound between 1864 and 1868, the stone country estate features both mansard and steeply pitched roofs with projecting dormer windows, iron pinnacles and parapets, and a grand porte cochere.


  8. Gingerbread Cottage Victorian


    This cheerful home on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts is a classic example of Carpenter Gothic architecture, a late 19th-century American take on the Gothic Revival movement. By adding decorative wooden accents inspired by Gothic carved-stone detailing, carpenters embellished small wooden houses to create the “gingerbread” cottage look commonly associated with Victorian homes.


  9. Italianate Victorian


    In the 1840s, builders and architects became inspired by the villas of the Italian Renaissance. An American interpretation of Victorian Italianate design can be seen here in the Southern Mansion in Cape May, New Jersey. This Victorian treasure boasts typical Italianate elements, such as a cupola; tall, narrow windows with decorative lintels; a low roof with deep overhangs and supportive corbels; and brackets at the top of single and paired porch columns.

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