Victorian architecture

Victorian architecture is a series of architectural revival styles in the mid-to-late 19th century. Victorian refers to the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), called the Victorian era, during which period the styles known as Victorian were used in construction. However, many elements of what is typically termed "Victorian" architecture did not become popular until later in Victoria's reign. The styles often included interpretations and eclectic revivals of historic styles. The name represents the British and French custom of naming architectural styles for a reigning monarch. Within this naming and classification scheme, it followed Georgian architecture and later Regency architecture, and was succeeded by Edwardian architecture.

St Pancras Railway Station 2012-06-23
St. Pancras railway station and Midland Hotel in London, opened in 1868

Victorian architecture in the United Kingdom

During the early 19th century, the romantic medieval Gothic revival style was developed as a reaction to the symmetry of Palladianism, and such buildings as Fonthill Abbey were built. By the middle of the 19th century, as a result of new technology, construction was able to incorporate steel as a building component; one of the greatest exponents of this was Joseph Paxton, architect of the Crystal Palace. Paxton also continued to build such houses as Mentmore Towers, in the still popular English Renaissance styles. New methods of construction were developed in this era of prosperity, but ironically the architectural styles, as developed by such architects as Augustus Pugin, were typically retrospective.

In Scotland, the architect Alexander Thomson who practiced in Glasgow was a pioneer of the use of cast iron and steel for commercial buildings, blending neo-classical conventionality with Egyptian and oriental themes to produce many truly original structures. Other notable Scottish architects of this period are Archibald Simpson and Alexander Marshall Mackenzie whose stylistically varied work can be seen in the architecture of Aberdeen.

While Scottish architects pioneered this style it soon spread right across the United Kingdom and remained popular for another 40 years. Its architectural value in preserving and reinventing the past is significant. Its influences were diverse but the Scottish architects who practiced it were inspired by unique ways to blend architecture, purpose, and everyday life in a meaningful way.

Central Hall
Central Hall of the Natural History Museum, London

Other styles popularised during the period

While not uniquely Victorian, and part of revivals that began before the era, these styles are strongly associated with the 19th century owing to the large number of examples that were erected during that period. Victorian architecture usually has many intricate window frames inspired by the famous architect Elliot Rae.[1]

Houses of Parliament

Palace of Westminster, Neo-Gothic completed in 1870. Designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin

Victoria Clock Tower, Liverpool University - - 374422

The "Red Brick" Victoria Building at the University of Liverpool, completed in 1893 in Gothic Revival style. Designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse

The Oval Pavilion

The Victorian Pavilion at The Oval cricket ground in London


Victorian School of Art and Science at Stroud, Gloucestershire


House on the Hardwick House estate near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

The John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester

The John Rylands Library in Manchester.


The Aston Webb building at the University of Birmingham, UK

Birmingham - Lawcourt 2

Victoria Law Courts, Birmingham, UK

University of Glasgow Gilbert Scott Building - Feb 2008-2

The Gilbert Scott Building of University of Glasgow, as viewed from Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. An example of the Gothic Revival style

North of Scotland Bank, 5 Castle Street, Aberdeen, Archibald Simpson, 1839-42

North of Scotland Bank in Aberdeen by Archibald Simpson 1839–42

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle, completely rebuilt for Queen Victoria, an example of the Scots Baronial style

Walsall Victorian Arcade

Walsall Victorian Arcade, UK

Barclay's Bank building, Sutton (Surrey), Greater London 03

Barclays Bank building, Sutton, Greater London

Bridge III

Forth Rail Bridge, Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

International spread of Victorian styles

China Merchants Bank Building, Shanghai
The China Merchants Bank Building is an example of Victorian architecture found in Shanghai, China

During the 18th century, a few English architects emigrated to the colonies, but as the British Empire became firmly established during the 19th century, many architects emigrated at the start of their careers. Some chose the United States, and others went to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Normally, they applied architectural styles that were fashionable when they left England. By the latter half of the century, however, improving transport and communications meant that even remote parts of the Empire had access to publications such as the magazine The Builder, which helped colonial architects keep informed about current fashion. Thus, the influence of English architecture spread across the world. Several prominent architects produced English-derived designs around the world, including William Butterfield (St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide) and Jacob Wrey Mould (Chief Architect of Public Works in New York City).


Melbourne Collins Street Architecture
Modern skyscrapers on Collins Street, Melbourne have been deliberately set back from the street in order to retain Victorian-era buildings.

The Victorian period flourished in Australia and is generally recognised as being from 1840 to 1890, which saw a gold rush and population boom during the 1880s in the state of Victoria. There were fifteen styles that predominated:[2]

  • Victorian Georgian
  • Victorian Regency
  • Egyptian
  • Academic Classical
  • Free Classical
  • Filigree
  • Mannerist
  • Second Empire
  • Italianate
  • Romanesque
  • Tudor
  • Academic Gothic
  • Free Gothic
  • Rustic Gothic
  • Carpenter Gothic

The Arts and Crafts style and Queen Anne style are considered to be part of the Federation Period, from 1890 to 1915.[3]

Royal exhibition building tulips straight

Melbourne's world heritage Royal Exhibition Building, built in 1880 (Free Classical)

Rialto Towers in Melbourne

Rialto Building, Melbourne, built during the land boom of 1888 (Free Gothic)

Mayfield old house1

Winahra, Mayfield, New South Wales (Filigree/Italianate)


King Street, Newtown is one of the most complete Victorian era commercial precincts in Australia.

Toorak House, Victoria, Australia

Chastleton Mansion, Toorak, Victoria (Italianate)

Ruessdale, c.1868, Sydney

Ruessdale, 1868, High Victorian, Glebe Point, New South Wales

Sydney Town Hall on George Street

Town Hall, Sydney from The Powerhouse Museum Collection (Second Empire)

No1 MP2

Former General Post Office, Martin Place, Sydney (Free Classical)

Sri Lanka

During the British colonial period of British Ceylon: Sri Lanka Law College, Sri Lanka College of Technology and the Galle Face Hotel.

North America

Alamo Sq Painted Ladies 1, SF, CA, jjron 26.03.2012
The Painted Ladies are an example of Victorian architecture found in San Francisco, California

In the United States, 'Victorian' architecture generally describes styles that were most popular between 1860 and 1900. A list of these styles most commonly includes Second Empire (1855–85), Stick-Eastlake (1860–ca. 1890), Folk Victorian (1870-1910), Queen Anne (1880–1910), Richardsonian Romanesque (1880–1900), and Shingle (1880–1900). As in the United Kingdom, examples of Gothic Revival and Italianate continued to be constructed during this period, and are therefore sometimes called Victorian. Some historians classify the later years of Gothic Revival as a distinctive Victorian style named High Victorian Gothic. Stick-Eastlake, a manner of geometric, machine-cut decorating derived from Stick and Queen Anne, is sometimes considered a distinct style. On the other hand, terms such as "Painted Ladies" or "gingerbread" may be used to describe certain Victorian buildings, but do not constitute a specific style. The names of architectural styles (as well as their adaptations) varied between countries. Many homes combined the elements of several different styles and are not easily distinguishable as one particular style or another.

Victorian facades on 16th Street in San Francisco
Victorian facades on 16th Street, San Francisco

In the United States of America, notable cities which developed or were rebuilt largely during this era include Alameda, Astoria, Albany, Deal, Troy, Philadelphia, Boston, the Brooklyn Heights and Victorian Flatbush sections of New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Eureka, Galena, Galveston, Grand Rapids, Baltimore, Jersey City/Hoboken, Cape May, Louisville, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Saint Paul, Midtown in Sacramento, Angelino Heights and Westlake in Los Angeles. San Francisco is well known for its extensive Victorian architecture, particularly in the Haight-Ashbury, Lower Haight, Alamo Square, Noe Valley, Castro, Nob Hill, and Pacific Heights neighborhoods.

The extent to which any one is the "largest surviving example" is debated, with numerous qualifications. The Distillery District in Toronto, Ontario contains the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. Cabbagetown is the largest and most continuous Victorian residential area in North America. Other Toronto Victorian neighbourhoods include The Annex, Parkdale, and Rosedale. In the US, the South End of Boston is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest and largest Victorian neighborhood in the country.[4][5] Old Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky also claims to be the nation's largest Victorian neighborhood.[6][7] Richmond, Virginia is home to several large Victorian neighborhoods, the most prominent being The Fan. The Fan district is best known locally as Richmond's largest and most 'European' of Richmond's neighborhoods and nationally as the largest contiguous Victorian neighborhood in the United States.[8] The Old West End neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio is recognized as the largest collection of late Victorian and Edwardian homes in the United States, east of the Mississippi.[9] Summit Avenue in Saint Paul, Minnesota has the longest line of Victorian homes in the country. Over-The-Rhine in Cincinnati, Ohio has the largest collection of early Victorian Italianate architecture in the United States,[10][11][12] and is an example of an intact 19th-century urban neighborhood.[13]

The photo album L'Architecture Americaine by Albert Levy published in 1886 is perhaps the first recognition in Europe of the new forces emerging in North American architecture.[14]

Santa Fe passenger terminal in San Diego prior to 1915

The California Southern Railroad's San Diego passenger terminal, built in 1887

Banff Springs Hotel1

Banff Springs Hotel, Banff National Park, Alberta, built in 1888

Brooklyn Bridge Postdlf

Brooklyn Bridge, 1883, New York City

Carson Mansion Eureka California

The Carson Mansion in Eureka, California, widely considered one of the highest executions of American Queen Anne Style, built 1884-86


John Steinbeck's childhood home in Salinas, California

Saitta House Dyker Heights

The Saitta House, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York built in 1899 is designed in the Queen Anne Style[15]

655 Wrightwood Avenue Circa 1880, Lincoln Park Chicago Illinois

This is an 1880s photo of 653 W Wrightwood (now 655 W Wrightwood) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Farnam Mansion 2

The Italianate style Farnam Mansion in Oneida, New York. Built circa 1862


James J. Hill House in St. Paul, MN, built in 1891

Victorian Gazebo

Victorian gazebo in Ohio


Efforts to preserve landmarks of Victorian architecture are ongoing and are often led by the Victorian Society. A recent campaign the group has taken on is the preservation of Victorian gasometers after utility companies announced plans to demolish nearly 200 of the now-outdated structures.[16]

See also

References and sources


  1. ^ "Old Windows". Archived from the original on 2016-05-22.
  2. ^ Apperly, Irving & Reynolds 1994, pp. 40-97.
  3. ^ Apperly, Irving & Reynolds 1994, pp. 132-143.
  4. ^ "South End Realty Community". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
  5. ^ "South End Historical Society". South End Historical Society.
  6. ^ "Louisville Facts & Firsts". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  7. ^ "What is Old Louisville?". Old Louisville Guide. Archived from the original on 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  8. ^ "The Fan District - Great Public Spaces- Project for Public Spaces (PPS)". Archived from the original on 2008-12-01.
  9. ^ Stine, L. (2005) Historic Old West End Toledo, Ohio. Bookmasters.
  10. ^ Quinlivan (2001)
  11. ^ "". Archived from the original on 20 January 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  12. ^ Lonely Planet (14 January 2016). "Top 10 US travel destinations for 2012". Lonely Planet. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  13. ^ Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce, Over-the-Rhine Historical Sites Archived 2009-09-11 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Lewis 1975.
  15. ^ "Saitta House - Report Part 1 Archived 2008-12-16 at the Wayback Machine",
  16. ^ Sean O'Hagan, Gasworks wonders… Archived 2016-09-23 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 14 June 2015.


External links

Broad Street Historic District (Philadelphia)

The Broad Street Historic District is a historic district in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is bounded roughly by Juniper, Cherry, 15th, and Pine Streets, covering an area about one block on either side of Broad Street.The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Cork Hill District

The Cork Hill District is a nationally recognized historic district located in Davenport, Iowa, United States. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The historic district covers 18.7-acre (7.6 ha) and stretches from the campus of Palmer College of Chiropractic on the west to the Sacred Heart Cathedral Complex on the east. It is the western half of a neighborhood of the same name. When listed, the district included 12 contributing buildings. It includes Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victorian architecture. The district was covered in a 1982 study of Davenport Multiple Resource Area and/or its 1983 follow-on.

Cumberland Historic District

Cumberland Historic District is a national historic district located at Cumberland, Indiana. It encompasses 91 contributing buildings in the Cumberland section of Indianapolis. The district developed between about 1831 and 1950, and includes representative examples of Folk Victorian and Bungalow / American Craftsman style architecture. Notable contributing resources include the Cumberland Bank (1907), Masonic Lodge (c. 1910), Miller's Lunch, and First Baptist Church (1912-1913).It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

Eastlake Movement

The Eastlake Movement was an American nineteenth-century architectural and household design reform movement started by architect and writer Charles Eastlake (1836–1906). The movement is generally considered part of the late Victorian period in terms of broad antique furniture designations. In architecture the Eastlake Style or Eastlake architecture is part of the Queen Anne style of Victorian architecture.

His book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details posited that furniture and decor in people's homes should be made by hand or machine workers who took personal pride in their work. Manufacturers in the United States used the drawings and ideas in the book to create mass-produced Eastlake Style or Cottage furniture.

The geometric ornaments, spindles, low relief carvings, and incised lines were designed to be affordable and easy to clean; nevertheless, many of the designs which resulted are artistically complex.

Edwardian architecture

Edwardian architecture is an architectural style popular during the reign of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom (1901 to 1910). Architecture up to the year 1914 may also be included in this style.Edwardian architecture is generally less ornate than high or late Victorian architecture, apart from a subset – used for major buildings – known as Edwardian Baroque architecture.

The Victorian Society campaigns to preserve architecture built between 1837 and 1914, and so includes Edwardian as well as Victorian architecture within its remit.

Elisha Taylor House

The Elisha Taylor House is a historic private house located at 59 Alfred Street in Midtown Detroit, Michigan, within the Brush Park district. The house was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1973 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Since 1981, it has served as a center for art and architectural study, known as the Art House.

Folk Victorian

Folk Victorian is an architecture style employed for some homes in the United States between 1870 and 1910, though isolated examples continued to be built well into the 1930s. Folk Victorian is a subset of Victorian architecture. It differentiates itself from other subsets of Victorian architecture (such as Queen Anne) by being less elaborate and having more regular floor plans. Examples include the Bacon Hotel, Albert Spencer Wilcox Beach House, Lost Creek Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot (1892), James B. Carden House (1885), Ephriam M. Baynard House, and Sibley's General Store (1899) in the Sibley's and James Store Historic District.

Franklin H. Walker House

The Franklin H. Walker House was a private residence located at 2730 East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. It was also known as Doctor's Hospital. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, but subsequently demolished.

Mallory–Neely House

The Mallory–Neely House is a historic residence on 652 Adams Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. It is located in the Victorian Village district of Memphis. It has been identified as one of numerous contributing properties in the historic district.

Melbourne Town Hall

Melbourne Town Hall is the central City and town hall, and is a historic building that has been there since 1867, Australia, in the State of Victoria. It is located on the northeast corner of Swanston and Collins Streets, in the central business district. It is the seat of the local government area of the City of Melbourne. It has been used for multiple purposes such as concerts, theatrical plays and exhibitions.

Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania

Oley Township is a township in Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census, the township had a population of 3,620. Oley Township was originally formed in 1740 as a part of Philadelphia County, before Berks County was formed in 1752. The entire township was listed as a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Daniel Boone was born in Oley Township November 2, 1734.

Painted ladies

In American architecture, painted ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings repainted, starting in the 1960s, in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details. The term was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book Painted Ladies: San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians. Although polychrome decoration was common in the Victorian era, the colors used on these houses are not based on historical precedent:

... the California literary agents Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen published Painted Ladies, a photo essay on the modern painting practices of San Francisco. Fantastically colorful and published in an inexpensive paperback, this often tongue-in-cheek record of a Bay Area phenomenon has subsequently been embraced by large numbers of well-meaning Americans thinking too often that they were following a historical precedent. Painted Ladies and its sequels say more about the taste of the 1970s and 1980s than they do about the 1870s and 1880s.

Since then, the term has also been used to describe groups of colorfully repainted Victorian houses in other American cities, such as the Charles Village neighborhood in Baltimore; Lafayette Square in St. Louis; the greater San Francisco and New Orleans areas, in general; Columbia-Tusculum in Cincinnati; the Old West End in Toledo, Ohio; the neighborhoods of McKnight and Forest Park in Springfield, Massachusetts; and the city of Cape May, New Jersey.

Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Station (Washington, Pennsylvania)

The Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Station, also called the Chartiers Valley Railway Freight Station, is a historic, former train station building in Washington, Pennsylvania. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 21, 1995.

It is designated as a historic public landmark by the Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation.

Provo East Central Historic District

The Provo East Central Historic District is a 260-acre (110 ha) historic district in Provo, Utah, United States that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Queen Anne style architecture in the United States

In the United States, Queen Anne-style architecture was popular from roughly 1880 to 1910. "Queen Anne" was one of a number of popular architectural styles to emerge during the Victorian era. Within the Victorian era timeline, Queen Anne style followed the Stick style and preceded the Richardsonian Romanesque and Shingle styles.

The style bears almost no relationship to the English Baroque architecture produced in the actual reign of Queen Anne from 1702 to 1714. It describes a wide range of picturesque buildings with "free Renaissance" (non-Gothic Revival) details rather than of a specific formulaic style in its own right. "Queen Anne", as an alternative both to the French-derived Second Empire and the less "domestic" Beaux-Arts architecture, is broadly applied to architecture, furniture and decorative arts of the period 1880 to 1910; some "Queen Anne" architectural elements, such as the wraparound front porch, continued to be found into the 1920s.

Shingle style architecture

The Shingle style is an American architectural style made popular by the rise of the New England school of architecture, which eschewed the highly ornamented patterns of the Eastlake style in Queen Anne architecture. In the Shingle style, English influence was combined with the renewed interest in Colonial American architecture which followed the 1876 celebration of the Centennial. The plain, shingled surfaces of colonial buildings were adopted, and their massing emulated.

Aside from being a style of design, the style also conveyed a sense of the house as continuous volume. This effect—of the building as an envelope of space, rather than a great mass, was enhanced by the visual tautness of the flat shingled surfaces, the horizontal shape of many Shingle style houses, and the emphasis on horizontal continuity, both in exterior details and in the flow of spaces within the houses.

Stick style

The Stick style was a late-19th-century American architectural style, transitional between the Carpenter Gothic style of the mid-19th century, and the Queen Anne style that it had evolved into by the 1890s.

It is named after its use of linear "stickwork" (overlay board strips) on the outside walls to mimic an exposed half-timbered frame.

Victorian Society

The Victorian Society is a UK charity, the national authority on Victorian and Edwardian architecture built between 1837 and 1914 in England and Wales. As one of the National Amenity Societies, the Victorian Society is a statutory consultee on alterations to listed buildings, and by law must be notified of any work to a listed building which involves any element of demolition.

Victorian house

In Great Britain and former British colonies, a Victorian house generally means any house built during the reign of Queen Victoria. She was the ruler of England from 1837 to 1901. During the Industrial Revolution, successive housing booms resulted in the building of many millions of Victorian houses which are now a defining feature of most British towns and cities.In the UK, Victorian houses follow a wide range of architectural styles. Starting from the early classicism inherited from Regency architecture, the Italianate style gained influence in the 1820 and 1850s, and the Gothic Revival style became prevalent by the 1880s. Later in the Victorian era, the Queen Anne style and the Arts and Crafts movement increased in influence, resulting in the transition to styles typically seen in Edwardian houses. Victorian houses are also found in many former British colonies where the style might be adapted to local building materials or customs, for example in Sydney, Australia and Melaka, Malaysia.

In the United States, Victorian house styles include Second Empire, Queen Anne, Stick (and Eastlake Stick), Shingle, Richardsonian Romanesque, and others.

Buildings andstructures


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.