NHC: Italianate Style (1845-1860)

This style, inspired by the vernacular farmhouse architecture of the Italian country villas, is most frequently identified by heavy wooden brackets or pendants.    The first Italianate houses in United States were constructed in the late 1830s, popularized by the pattern books of Andrew Jackson Downing.   While there are true Italianate buildings throughout Newburyport, the use of bracketed details became a popular item for a time period and bracketing was also applied to Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival houses in an attempt to modernize them.      This has caused some to get a misconception of their building’s age and style not realizing their home may be much older.

Windows tend to be paired and a 2/2 sash.     The most common feature is projecting porches and the city-wide use of bay windows.      A tower or cupola is often found on the top of a villa.

Characteristic Details

Plan

Less formal than Georgian or Federal styles.    Asymmetrical massing reflects the interior floor plan.    Use of wings, towers, and bay windows was common.

Doorways

Heavily molded doors, often double and asymmetrically placed.    Heavy wooden bracketing over door was major decorative feature.   Sidelights and transom disappeared.

Windows

Tall and slender, often 2-0ver-2.    Round-headed, paired windows.    Use of bracketing.

Roofline

Slight pitch and usually gabled, hipped or both.

Materials

Executed in wood with frequent use of flat boards.

Decorative elements

Identified by heavy wood brackets under the eaves as well as over the doors and windows.   Took on a variety of forms such as the scroll bracket, the bracket with pendant and the ornamental pendant.

Here are links on additional information on the Italianate Style:

Design features:

The Preservation Trust has more information at its link.

Historic New England’s take on the Italianate style.

-P. Preservationist
www.ppreservationist.com

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