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Thread: What style are these houses? - the suburban edition

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    What style are these houses? - the suburban edition

    This thread is influenced by Super Amputee Cat's recent thread about vernacular houses in Toledo

    All of the examples pictured below are within a half mile of my parents' house in Amherst, New York; some are on the same street. This style of residential architecture is quite common in Buffalo's northern suburbs; specifically Amherst and Tonawanda. They're far less common in the city's eastern and southern suburbs. Most were built from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. I haven't encountered anything similar elsewhere.
    • Light colored brick (standard modular or Roman) on the front elevation
    • White aluminum or vinyl siding on side and rear elevations
    • Hip roof, usually with a low pitch and large eaves
    • Windows either don't have mullions, or they have a snap-in diagonal mullion pattern grid.
    • May have a Palladian motif fenestration outline on first floor facade windows, but fitted with standard rectangular windows.
    • May have a two-story window, and/or window above the front door, used to bring light to a two-story foyer.
    • Usually little or no articularion of the facade, except where an attached garage meets the house.
    I've nicknamed the style "Northtown Neo-Roman", since examples seem to evoke Italian residential architecture. Granted, it's brick and siding, and not sunwashed stucco, but it's easy to see the similarity. There has to be something more academic and official, though, and Buffalo surely can't be the only part of the US to have houses like this. Or ...is this the first documentation of a regional contemporary residential architectural style?











    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Comparison with real Italian houses, from http://www.aeg-realestate.com/english/the_team.htm









    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Although I do not know any American cities very well other than Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (which is filled with gated communities and trailer parks), I can only comment on whether or not I've seen these kinds of houses in Canadian cities.

    Short answer. No.

    However, there are some similiarities in homes I've seen here with some of those homes that Dan posted. I have the 3rd last and the last home in mind. What are similar is the perimeter and contours of the homes. However, I cannot say I've see a lot of "trellis-style" windows. Without a doubt, many homes are made of brick, even ones in yucky colours, like pastel pink.

    Can I just say something? Isn't the 6th last home (the one with the long skinny green curtained window) just plain ugly? Do builders not have a clue with the idea of proportionality? I'd love to scream, "Think Palladian, will ya?"

    Even the old Italian villa homes are more proportional then the Northtown Neo-Roman homes.

    Dan, I agree with you. I can see the parallels between the Northtown Neo-Roman homes and the old Italian villa homes.

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    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    Actually... I think they lean towards really bad french eclectic ...rather than Italianate
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The Italianate style was very popular in the mid to late 1800's, and the city in which I formerly worked had a large number of very beautiful examples in wood or brick. These houses mostly lack any defining character, but I agree with Dan, there are a few Italianate motifs, such as the low roof pitches and a few arched windows. Most do appear to lack the symmetry you would expect from Italianate.

    Dan, I think you have coined a new architectural style. Northtown Neo-Roman. I'll stick with it.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Split levels...California split...split entry?

    Compared with these








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    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    If these are 1970 and later...definately Neo-Medditeranian with an Italian Renaissance influence. I'm leaning away from French eclectic because of the lack of quoins at the corners, windows/doors and shutters and the lack of dormers on the top story.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by spokanite
    Compared with these
    Not even close, IMHO. Those are called raised ranches.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by GeogPlanner
    If these are 1970 and later...definately Neo-Medditeranian with an Italian Renaissance influence. I'm leaning away from French eclectic because of the lack of quoins at the corners, windows/doors and shutters and the lack of dormers on the top story.
    quoins are common trait of eclectic Italiante homes... These homes are so watered down...that they are void of virtually any details to give them character....

    The taller narrow casement windows and common hip rooves made me think more of french.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

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    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    I'm going to call it Midwest Soft Italianate Colonial, and suggest that it's pretty prevalent not just in the Northtowns, but in the cities around Buffalo, even being the rare architectural style to cross the New York-Ontario border.

    Toronto has a few fine exemplars, although we must keep in mind the Torontonian trend for building narrow (pictures www.mls.ca)









    And from the suburb of Vaughan:









    And into Woodbridge, where the population actually is predominantly Italian:



    Now, Montréal and the rest of Québec generally have their own architectural styles (hard contemporary predominates), but the Italian ethnoburb of St-Léonard and the Anglo suburbs of the West Island are no slouch when it comes to Midwest Soft-Italianate Colonial:













    Even Chicago is not immune: (pictures www.realtor.com)








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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I would vote for modified, multi-story, prairie style. (large overhangs on a four sided, low pitch roof, combination of window styles in rectangular shapes, with limited to no exterior ornamentation.)

    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

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    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    Of course, there are a few variations on the style as well... here's Northtown Soft Colonial.





    [IMG]http://homepics.realtor.com/image9/http/buffalo/listings/large/012/214400_101.jpg
    [/IMG]



    And Northtown Soft Contemporary.










    And here it is in the Neo-Tudor version:




    And in the single-story version:


    Seems to me there's a street called Forestview that is chockablock with Northtown Neo-Roman.

    Is there any similar unique style for the Southtowns?

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    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    After having looked at the first set of houses again, I wonder if perhaps they owe less to the villas of Italy and more to something much closer to home.

    Below are photos of homes on the outskirts of Toronto proper, built in a style I'll call Toronto Anglophile Tract; I find quite a resemblance between these and what Dan has called Northtown Neo-Roman.

    (photos mls.ca)














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    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    Ok.... there comes to a point when the houses are devoid of style or any sense of design...and just awful 20th century crap homes...and the homes shouldn't be classified...as they pay so little homage to any design style. Calling them vernacular...also would say that they also have some sense of design and balance. Maybe we could just call the "K" homes....like the car series.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by drucee
    I'm going to call it Midwest Soft Italianate Colonial, and suggest that it's pretty prevalent not just in the Northtowns, but in the cities around Buffalo, even being the rare architectural style to cross the New York-Ontario border.

    Toronto has a few fine exemplars, although we must keep in mind the Torontonian trend for building narrow (pictures www.mls.ca)[/IMG]
    Thanks for the pictures! The houses in Buffalo are very similar to the Canadian examples. You're right; after the 1950s, there aren't many examples of cross-border residential architectural styles between Ontario and the US. (The same can't be said for all of Canada; new houses I've see online in Alberta look suprisingly like those in Colorado and Idaho.) The Canadian examples have more facade articulation, but that could be attributed to Toronto's narrow lot sizes.

    I'm going to make a wild guess, and suggest that there's an Italian-American ethnic connection in there somewhere. Buffalo is no stranger to ethnoburbs, and although Almerst and Tonawanda are ethnically diverse, they do have a larger Italian-American population than other Buffalo suburbs. A lot of small independent Italian-American homebuilders and developers concentrate on the Northtowns, too. Toronto and Montreal have have distinct Italian ethnoburbs, which could account for the presence of the Northtowns Neo-Roman house there; were builders swapping plans? Still, in Cleveland's Italian-American ethnoburbs (Mayfield Heights, Wickliffe), I haven't seen any Neo-Roman houses.

    This house in suburban Chicago? Big fountains in the front yard are the hardscaping equivalent of a golden horn necklace.



    I don't know about a connection with Toronto Anglophile Tract; the materials are the same, but the lines seem different.

    One thing I've noticed about Buffalo vernacular architecture is that, in houses built up until the 1970s, ornamental ironwork is far more common than what I've seen in other areas. A while ago, I posted some examples from Kaisertown, a predominantly Polish-American working class neighborhood. I think it's the Italian-American influence at work, in a small way.



    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    Might this house, in Pepper Pike, qualify?



    But you're right, examples of Northtown Neo-Roman in the Cleveland suburbs are few and far between. It seems to me that Cleveland prefers a more sprawling, more "American" style of suburban home.

    Also, I've found that Northtown Neo-Roman does not extend eastward to Rochester or Syracuse, unless I wasn't looking in the right places (I examined Fayetteville and De Witt in Syracuse, and Penfield, Brighton, and Pittsford in Rochester).

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