The term Period Revival refers to a wide range of historically based styles favored by the American public for nearly half a century. Such styles as the Colonial Revival and Neoclassical remained popular throughout the entire period and appeared concurrently with the non-historical styles (such as bungalow) of the early 20th century.
Following World War I other, more varied styles became popular, such as the Spanish Colonial, English Tudor, and French Norman. A number of these styles—including Spanish Colonial, English Tudor, Mission, Pueblo, and French Norman—were based on the indigenous building traditions of North America and Europe.
Various explanations have been offered for the popularity of these Period Revival styles. One opinion is that nationalistic pride following World War I led to an increased use of the Colonial Revival and Neoclassical styles, while another states that doughboys returning from Europe favored the English Tudor and French Norman styles.
Whatever the reason, many of these historical styles began appearing in all types of architecture. These designs almost always displayed the architect’s or builder’s familiarity with the external, decorative features of the historical style rather than with the building tradition, its formal features, or plan types.
Numerous articles in the architectural press on the “country house” reinforced this return to historicism in the teens and twenties. Surprisingly, “country houses” were usually not large but they generally sat on large lots or acreage and frequently used the English Tudor or French Norman styles. Some authors of the period rationalized the appropriateness of such styles by claiming that the climatic conditions and varied terrain of America resemble those of England and France. They also supported these styles for rural settings because nature enhanced their significant picturesque qualities.
This emphasis on the picturesque emerged not only in the magazine articles published at the time but also in their accompanying photographs. Unlike the Victorian decorative approach to the picturesque, expressed mostly through a variety of building materials, decorative detailing, and silhouettes, the Period Revival’s historical allusions were based on picturesque architectural massing, with various roof pitches, dormer type, and towers. This variety in massing alluded to the irregular forms and additions common in the vernacular architecture from which the styles were derived.
Period Revival styles incorporated a basic simplicity of form and façade. Massing and facades, combined with a respect for materials and craftsmanship necessary to imitate certain historical construction techniques (half-timbering, stonemasonry, tile and slate roofing, and wood shingles laid in a simulated thatch pattern) provided texture, another necessary picturesque quality.
Various writers of the period suggested that these houses supported the informality of the American way of living. Thus, the interiors conformed to American concepts of comfort and practicality. Architects designed many aspects of modern architecture into these houses, most particularly the open plan, which combined living and dining rooms into an “L”-shaped space. Undoubtedly, this informality in living patterns had been influenced by changes in family relationships after the Victorian period–and by the shortage of domestic help.
The outdoor living area also appeared, which in turn led to a lowering of the height of the first floor in relation to ground level. Unlike the usual Victorian practice of building the house several feet above the grade, the Period Revival house was built within twelve to eighteen inches of grade to allow the family’s living patterns to extend onto a terrace. A later aspect of the Period Revival appeared in the thirties: one-story houses containing one or more wings, a pattern based upon the works of such notable modern architects as Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra.
The architectural style of the “country house,” which reflected the social aspirations of it well-to-do or upper-middle-class owners, quickly migrated to the rapidly expanding suburbs and their spacious house sites. The suburbs, in turn, had grown along with the growth of the streetcar, the interurban railroad, and finally, the automobile.
A further trickling down of Period Revival influence appeared in the form of cottages–small, single-family residences constructed by speculative builders both in urban subdivisions and in newly platted suburbs. To counteract what many considered the amateurishly poor design of these single-family residences, and to enhance their professional standing, architects and the architectural press in the twenties and thirties started a movement for standardization. Touting the importance of good architecture in small houses, the architectural profession launched a regionalized stock-plan service known as the Architects’ Small House Service Bureau (A.S.H.S.B.). Designs generated by anonymous architects were made available to the public nationwide.
What began as a professional experiment by architects blossomed into a successful attack on the practice of lumber dealers, contractors, and carpenters designing small houses. The A.S.H.S.B. produced numerous designs for houses of six principal rooms or fewer. The service, which included plans and specifications, cost five dollars per principal room. The experiment lasted nearly a decade and a half, and it designs were built from coast to coast.
Colonial Revival 1890-1940
This term covers a wide variety of American architecture, including buildings inspired by English and Dutch vernacular architecture of the colonial period and the more formal English-inspired architecture of the Georgian and Federal periods of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Extremely popular in Utah as a residential style, it is also seen in numerous religious buildings and in some commercial and institutional buildings.
Common characteristics of the style include the gambrel roofs often associated with “Dutch Colonial” architecture but found widely in New England as well. Gambrel roof designs became especially popular in Salt Lake City, particularly for cottages. Colonial Revival buildings also include and high-style architecture borrowed from Georgian houses, including Palladian windows and fanlights.
The Cape Cod cottage, an indigenous New England house type, first became a popular sub-style of the Colonial Revival during the 1930s. Early 20th-century plan books, such as the nationally popular Radford’s Bungalows, contained numerous Colonial Revival designs.
–hip, gable, or gambrel roofs
–porches and /or porticos with classical motifs
–surfaces covered in shingles, wood siding, or brick
–Palladian windows in second-story walls or gables
–side and transom lights around the main entry
–clear leaded-glass windows
–multiple light sashes above single light sashes
–broken, segmental, or swan’s neck pediments
Clipped-Gable Cottage 1915-1935
A sort of cross between a Period Cottage and Bungalow, the primary distinguishing feature of the clipped-gable cottage is, as its name suggests, clipped or jerkinhead gables on the roof. Typically situated with the broad side to the street, this type usually has a centrally placed main entrance under a projecting porch. The broad façade and lengthwise orientation of the house is more reminiscent of a period cottage, while the large porch echoes that of a bungalow.
The clipped gable roof ends lend a touch of the Colonial Revival style, while other ornamentation may imply the Arts and Crafts or Prairie School styles. The clipped-gable cottage was popular in newly developing subdivisions in the 1920s and 1930s as well as in older neighborhoods as infill. This type can also be found in rural settings on larger lots.
–Clipped (jerkinhead) gables on roof ends and porch roof
–Long roofline typically situated parallel with street
–Large front porch, usually centrally located
–Sometimes combined with other styles
The Neoclassical style uses Greek and Roman classical motifs, especially the orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite, and Tuscan), in a more conservative manner than do buildings of Beaux Arts style classicism. Neoclassical buildings are symmetrical, monumental forms with facades highlighted by colonnades or large pedimented porticos that are integral to the design of the building. Banks, courthouses, post offices, and churches from the early decades of this century were often designed in this style.
–raised basement story
–uninterrupted cornice and /or pedimented porticos
–smooth ashlar finish on masonry buildings
–terra cotta details
Early Christian/Byzantine 1910-1935
Of the Period Revival styles used in non-domestic architecture, the Early Christian/Byzantine is the most frequently seen in church buildings. The Christian basilica form of a great hall—with or without cross wing or transept arm—naturally accommodated the functions of various religious groups, including the LDS Church in Utah.
The more centralized plan of Greek origin forms the basis of some of the state’s Greek Orthodox churches. These buildings are generally of brick and stone masonry with tile roofs. On these church buildings the gable end face the street, with entry into the main hall through a rounded arch opening. Secondary entries in the basilica plans might be located along the lateral sides of the hall and in the transept arm. Exterior decoration relies upon the intrinsic quality of the brick and stone masonry and some cast ornamentation in the form of terra-cotta tiles.
–stone masonry alternating with brick coursing
–low, rounded arch openings
–columns with composite capitals
–decorative terra cotta tilework
–vertical brick courses inserted at regular intervals in the brick bond
Egyptian Revival 1920-1930
This distinctive style first appeared, for a brief period, during the mid-19th century in a variety of building types. Its Period Revival phase was mostly confined to the decade from 1920 to 1930, when it was used for places of entertainment such as movie theaters and in the club buildings of various fraternal orders.
Buildings of this style used Egyptian architectural motifs like battered walls, lotus columns, and sphinx-like figures. Walls were constructed of brick and/or stone masonry or were covered with stucco or terra-cotta tiles to imitate some form of masonry construction.
Examples of this style in Utah are rare; in fact, the three buildings illustrated here are the only remaining Egyptian Revival buildings in the state.
–lotus capital columns
–statuary of Egyptian rulers
–rope molding (i.e., a band of terra cotta or other molding in a rope-like design)
–vulture and sun disk symbols
English Tudor 1915-1935
English Tudor generically refers to the timber-frame architecture of medieval England. In true timber and half-timber framing, the wall structure is made of heavy timbers, with the spaces between the framing members infilled with various materials and covered with plaster.
American examples of this style were not generally based on true timber construction, but merely imitated the visual effect of this method. Small one-and-one-half-story residences, primarily constructed after World War I by speculative builders on small suburban lots, comprise the majority of these buildings. They incorporate surface characteristics of English vernacular cottages using contemporary materials.
Picturesque irregular massing, a variety of window shapes, and the decorative use of materials combined to make these small but affordable houses popular–despite their small lots and inflexible plans.
–steeply pitched gable roof, often a clipped gable
–exposed framing members (occasionally carved) with panels infilled with stucco
–stucco walls with randomly placed areas of exposed brick or stone
–round or segmental arch openings
–diamond-pane and/or bottle-glass lights
–tall casement windows with numerous small lights
–brick and stone masonry in a textured pattern
–terra cotta window and door surrounds
–simulated thatched roofs of wood and asphalt shingles
–clay chimney pots
English Cottage 1920-1940
The primary distinguishing characteristic between this style and the English Tudor style is the construction materials; otherwise these two styles share similar forms, massing, and floor plans. Stucco and false half-timber exterior treatments provide the identity for the English Tudor style, whereas the English Cottage style relies on an all-brick exterior. Otherwise, these two styles are identical. (See English Tudor style.)
–all brick exterior
–same asymmetrical massing and steeply pitched gabled roof as English Tudor
–typically not as large as English Tudor-style houses
Jacobethan Revival 1900-1935
This conglomerate term comes from joining the English historical designations Jacobean and Elizabethan. The designs using this style borrowed motifs from both phases of the English Renaissance. Distinctive gables, window, and chimneys emphasize the forms. The outer walls are often composed principally of brick combined with stone—or terra-cotta imitating stone—in the form of quoins, cornices, parapets, mullions, and door and window surrounds. Gables rise above the roofline, and bay windows project outward from the wall surfaces. Larger buildings use towers and turrets.
–steeply pitched gable roofs
–stone or terra-cotta window and door surrounds
–ogee arches in entries
–decorative window and doorway hoods of stone or terra-cotta
French Norman 1915-1935
The French Norman, like the English Tudor, is a revival style harkening back to medieval European architecture. It was popular during the first three decades of the 20th century.
French medieval architecture—especially of the chateau—had actually been popular in America since the early work of architect Richard Morris Hunt. Educated at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Hunt designed country houses influenced by his familiarity with French architecture. His French Norman designs were later eclipsed by his larger and grander works in the Chateauesque style.
The French Norman revival, as the second wave of enthusiasm for French architecture, was like the English Tudor in that it was loosely based upon the vernacular architecture of Normandy and Brittany. American designs incorporated stone and brick, often in combination with stucco wall surfaces, half-timbering, and decorative brick patterns. Steeply pitched roofs were also common.
–square, round, or octagonal towers with conical or pyramidal roofs
–steeply pitched gable and hip roofs
–simulated thatched roofs or wood or asphalt shingles
–slate or imitation slate roofs
–brick and/or stone masonry walls
–imitation half-timbering in combination with masonry constructions
–decorative brick patterns on wall surfaces
–round and/or segmental openings
–terra-cotta window and door surrounds
Spanish Colonial Revival 1915-1935
Based upon the baroque architecture of Mexico, the Spanish Colonial Revival was especially popular during the early part of the 20th century in California, portions of the Southwest, and Florida. Characterized by red tile roofs and white stucco-covered wall surfaces, the style was used for schools, churches, residences, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, and governmental complexes. Low-relief ornament, decorative cornices and parapets, and wrought iron grills and balconies differentiate this style from the Mission style.
–red tile roofs
–stucco wall surfaces
–wrought iron balconies
–low, rounded arch openings
–decorative door surrounds of tile or terra-cotta
The Mission style emanated from California at the end of the 19th century, based on the design of the old Catholic missions. Like the Spanish Colonial style, it relies upon red tile roofs, stucco wall surfaces, and simple geometric forms. Curvilinear gables, round arches, and arcades are also key features of the style. Unlike the Spanish Colonial style, Mission style uses little surface ornamentation.
–red tile roofs
–plain stucco walls
Pueblo Revival 1915-1935
Derived from the Native American pueblo architecture of the southwestern United States and Mexico, this style was much more popular in California and other parts of the West than in Utah. The residential examples of the style have battered walls emulating the appearance of thick adobe walls, rounded corners, flat roofs (often with set-back upper stories like true pueblos), stucco walls, and roof rafters or vigas projecting from the outer walls. Most Utah examples are either stucco over wood frame or masonry construction.
–battered walls, usually stucco-covered
–flat roofs with parapets
–rafters or vigas projecting from the outer walls
–stepped-back upper stories