A Guide to Townhouse Style of Architecture

The Townhouse style introduced in Manhattan in the mid-1800s was modest but ornate, built for the elite entering and settling into a new life in America. Influenced by various styles, this Style ruled the roost in the 1800s.

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THE simple but ornate architectural style of Townhouses first came into being in Manhattan, New York City in the 1800s when a lot of new buildings were being constructed in America for the urban elite. This style was typical in its character, in modest scale with simple architectural ornament inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Typically, townhouses are either two or three stories with a basement and attic half story with dormer windows. The roof is slated which is characteristic with a brownstone base with a red-brick upper façade.

GREEK REVIVAL & GOTHIC REVIVAL STYLE
The Greek Style was popular from 1830 till 1850, wherein it was characterised by simple and bold architectural elements that imitated Greek motifs. The second style, the Gothic Revival was very popular in its time, from 1840-1860 and had elements inspired by organic and natural forms, medievalism and the picturesque.

ITALIANATE & ANGLO-ITALIANATE STYLE

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This style was most popular on the Upper East Side in the 1860s with its characteristic chocolate brownstone facing. This style was also constructed from 1840-1870 elsewhere in the city but came into prominence in the 1860s. The massing and details of this style are loosely based on Renaissance forms, and this style is not based on Renaissance forms. Also popular was the Anglo-Italianate Style during this period (1840-1860).

THE SECOND EMPIRE AND NEO GREC STYLE
This Second Empire Style is similar to the Italianate style, which was popular from 1860-1875, followed by the Neo Grec. This kind of design style was characterised by extremely stylized classical details. The lush curving ornaments of the Italianate style were supplanted by angular, stylized forms and incised details.

THE SECOND EMPIRE AND NEW GREC STYLE

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The Second Empire Style was similar to the Italianate style which was popular from 1860-1875, followed by the Neo Grec style that came with extremely stylized classical details. The lush curving ornaments of the Italianate style were supplanted by angular, stylized forms and incised detail.

THE QUEEN ANNE AND ROMANESQUE REVIVAL STYLES
The Queen Anne Style came into existence from 1870-1890 and brought with it a new freedom in residential design. This Style came into being in England where it gained much popularity and combines the features from a variety of historical styles and materials. Most buildings are designed in red brick, and are trimmed with rough and smooth stone, terra cotta, wood and slate shingles and iron. This style was particularly common in the West Side of Manhattan. Also popular during the 1870s through 1890s was the Romanesque Revival Style identified by the prevalence of heavy round arched openings and asymmetry.

RENAISSANCE REVIVAL, COLONIAL REVIVAL, BEAUX-ARTS, AND ENGLISH NEO-CLASSICAL STYLES
Popular styles for Townhouse style of architecture included Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts and English Neo-Classical, that came into being from the 1880s through the early 1900s. The Beaux-Arts Style came into prominence for resembling buildings that were erected in French cities during the final decades of the 19th century.
The Townhouse Style of Architecture changed the course of American architecture in the 1890s, with renewed interest in the symmetry and balance of classical and renaissance architecture. The World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois in 1893 helped renewed this interest.

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