Historic architecture pages home and 4 pages, Folk, Colonial, Romantic, Victorian

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HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE PAGES – home and 4 pages, Folk, Colonial, Romantic, Victorian

The architecture of the historic homes of Readington Township reveals the portrait of a hard-working, agricultural community. This is evident as one drives through the rural Readington countryside.

Farmers built their homes to be as sturdy and cost efficient as possible. The houses are not ornate, elaborate or abstract in design by contemporary standards, but do reflect a variety of practical styles.

Houses that started with one original form of architecture sometimes combined features from other architectural periods, creating an architectural melting pot of features in one structure.

Join us for a tour of a sampling of Readington’s homes and learn about the architecture of 19th century Hunterdon County.

Folk Houses
Folk Houses were built to provide a basic structure to provide a comfortable home and shelter for a family. Abstract patterns and fashion were not a concern when these types of homes were built. Early folk homes were built from materials found near the site of the house: timber, rock, or clay. The home’s carpenter or carpenters were usually the ones to live in the home. These building designs were usually handed down from generation to generation, therefore, over time, these homes continued to show little change in design.

Native American
Our country’s first folk homes are classified as Native American. These structures were built solely using simple materials found in the region of the Natives. The humble homes they lived in consisted of raw material; sticks, mud, reeds, and so on. It wasn’t until the arrival of early European settlers that homes begin to take a more modern form.

Upon the arrival of early European settlers, a more complex design of folk homes began to take shape. The Europeans still, without the ability to import materials, used techniques like the Native Americans, using materials found on the site of their future home. This method of construction occurred up through the 17th century.

National Design
As the creation of the railroads began in the 19th century, the homes became sturdier and stronger than those previously mentioned. The reason for this is because of the materials being transported into areas by the railcars. These homes, which are seen frequently throughout Readington Township, are classified as the National Design.

The most common of the three branches of Folk Houses in Readington, are houses of the National Design, built Circa 1850-1890. Houses built within this period of folk tradition have more complicated design than those of Native American and Pre-Railroad. Although these do not represent the most elaborate design in historical architecture, the better material brought by the railroads allowed for stronger, and more handsome homes. These homes are easy to spot, simply designed and no real distinct features in comparison to the more elaborate homes on this site.

These Nationally Designed I-House stay very true to the term “architectural melting pot.” Here we see a chimney adorning both sides of the house as seen in the front view of the homes.


Basic, two story, three bay, I-House of the mid 1800's


Two story, five bay, I-House of the mid 1800's.


Colonial Houses
Colonists arriving in America from Europe brought along some of the most distinct and beautiful styles of architecture. Many of these original Colonial Homes are rare to find, however they exist in stylistic “Revivals” of ideas that were found in the original Colonial Architecture. The Colonial Style is divided into seven categories; Postmedieval English, Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Georgian, Adam, and Early Classical Revival. The most common revisits of these homes in Readington are the Georgian and Adam styles.

This architecture was popular between 1780-1820, locally to about 1840. The Adam design type usually displays windows five-ranked, symmetrically balanced with the center door, possibly the windows can be three or seven ranked as well. Windows also may have double-hung sashes, typically with six panes per sash. The Cornice is usually emphasized with tooth-like dentils or other decorative molding. A common feature in the Adam design also includes a fanlight over a paneled door, often accompanied by sidelights. The door framing usually involves an elaborated crown and may serve as a small entry porch as well.

This structure was created C. 1830. It should be noted the original design to this house is only the front portion. The point at which the roof drops lower than the front portion is a 20th century addition, with no historical value to the original piece of the home. This home has windows Five Ranked along with a center window adjacent to the door as described in the paragraph at left. On the door we see an elaborated crown and sidelights.


Romantic Houses
The following houses make up the most commonly seen design of Readington Township. The Romantic Style includes the most popular design in 19th Century America, known as Greek Revival. This design was popular to define oneself as a member in the American Republic. These Romantic Homes broke away from traditional European Design and created a distinctive look for homeowners in the country. Romantic Homes are broken into five categories. The Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Exotic Revivals and the Octagon style. As the popularity of the Greek Revival Home wore thin, due to the fact that simply everyone had them, new ideas branched from this in the same time period. Hence the five other styles previously listed after the Greek Revival in the Romantic Home group.

Greek Revival
Pictured here are examples of the Greek Revival design (1825-1860). This may be the most noticeable architectural design throughout the community. Greek Revival is typically illustrated in the entry porch. Pillars square or round, support the front structure. A wide band of trim beneath the main roof and porch roof is a common feature. Doorways are generally a single door or paired, and usually divided into two or four panels with glass pains surrounding. Windows generally had six-pane glazing.

A spitting image of a Greek Revival Home. Here all the features described in the paragraph are illustrated, Square pillars supporting entryway to the paired front door. Trim below the low-pitched roof and, like the Adam Design, six paned glazing on the windows with smaller frieze band windows on the top of the house.

Greek Revival C. 1856. Note the low-pitched roof, and entry porch supported by square pillars.

A country-version of the Greek Revival design, C. 1840-1850. This building has been modified; a later built roof and the double-bay parlor windows (Victorian design) on the side. Note the decorated Cornice instead of plain trim beneath the roof and the six pain windows, typical Greek Revival features.

Another branch of Romantic Houses popular between 1840-1885. As seen here we have a largely Italianate home with mixed features, a common occurrence in older homes that have seen many additions. The roof design descends from a Second Empire, Late Victorian, Mansard type, atypical of most Romantic Houses. Note the windows are of a more rectangular shape and the design of the crowns above the windows are more typical in Greek Revival Design. The brackets supporting the over hanging eaves of the roof are of Italianate design. Note the double doors in the main entry, another typical design found within the Italianate architectural style.

Note the double doors in the main entry, another typical design of Italianate architectural style.

TERMS pop-up box

The top part of an arch (i.e. peak of roof) including the keystone (center)

Mansard Roof
Roof with a double slope, the lower being longer and steeper than the upper, named after Francois Mansart.

Folk Houses are broken down into Native-American, Pre-Railroad, and National Houses. These categories have sub-categories as well. The I-House is one of six homes in the National Design category.

Homes that are based on architecture from different countries or from an earlier era. A Greek Revival is based on the architecture of ancient Greece.

Five Ranked-
The term “ranked” is used to describe how many windows are displayed on the front of the home. So five ranked, five windows, six ranked, six windows, and so on.

Double Hung Sashes
Windows that can be seperated, slid up and down, etc.

Any projecting ornamental molding along the top of a building finishing or crowning it.

A small square block used in a series (patterns).


A window, often semi-circular, over a door with radiating glazing bars suggesting a fan.

A small supporting piece of stone or other material often formed of scrolls, to carry a projecting weight.

Windows found on opposite sides of a door, windows are commonly the same length or half the length of the door.

Paired Door
Two doors together as the main entrance, usually opening away from each other.

Another term for glass.

Bay Windows
An angular or curved projection of a house front filled by fenestration (the arrangement of windows in a building).

The triangular upper portion of a wall at the end of a pitched roof corresponding to a pediment in classical architecture, usually non-functional as in the portal on a Gothic cathedral.


Victorian Houses
The term “Victorian” descends from Britain’s Queen Victoria who ruled from 1837-1901. In the history of American Architecture it was during the later years of her reign that the Victorian design became popular. The railways and industry in America continued to grow and deliver materials for building homes quickly, and more importantly, cheaply. These improvements in the economy led to the construction of more abstract homes. The Victorian style emphasizes design in texture and color. Thus, the six different categories of homes: Second Empire, Stick, Queen Anne, Shingle, Richardsonian Romanesque and Folk Victorian tend to overlap each other in design. In Readington, the most recognizable homes found in Readington Township of the Victorian design are Queen Anne Styles.

Queen Anne
The most common design of homes found in Readington Township in the Victorian category are referred to as Queen Anne Styles. These homes were popular between the years of 1860-1900. The two styles pictured here share similar features, most notably the tower feature, seen on the corner of the houses. This design in the house alone is a give away to identifying this style. Other common features include bay windows, along with Gable ornaments on the high peaked roof.

Note the tower feature, a common occurrence in most Queen Anne homes in the area.

Again we see the tower feature on the left side of the home. The roof image shows a cresting of ornaments on the peak, another key feature in the Queen Anne Style.


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