Shingle Style Homes

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The Shingle Style Conveyed a
Sense of the House as Continuous Volume

This American style originated in cottages along the trendy, wealthy Northeastern coastal towns of Cape Cod, Long Island, and Newport in the late 19th century. Architectural publishers publicized it, but the style was never as popular around the country as the Queen Anne.

Shingle Style

Shingle homes borrow wide porches, shingles, and asymmetrical forms from the Queen Anne. They're also characterized by unadorned doors, windows, porches, and cornices; continuous wood shingles; a steeply pitched roof line; and large porches. The style hints at towers, but they're usually just extensions of the roof line.

The Shingle Style in America was made popular by the rise of the New England school of architecture, which eschewed the highly ornamented patterns of the Eastlake style. In the Shingle Style, English influence was combined with the renewed interest in Colonial American architecture which followed the 1876 celebration of the Centennial. Architects emulated colonial houses' plain, shingled surfaces as well as their massing, whether in the simple gable of McKim Mead and White's Low House or in the complex massing of Kragsyde, which looked almost as if a colonial house had been fancifully expanded over many years. This impression of the passage of time was enhanced by the use of shingles. Some architects, in order to attain a weathered look on a new building, even had the cedar shakes dipped in buttermilk, dried and then installed, to leave a grayish tinge to the façade.

The Shingle 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.

McKim, Mead and White and Peabody and Stearns were two of the notable firms of the era that helped to popularize the Shingle Style, through their large scale commissions for "seaside cottages" of the rich and the well-to-do in such places as Newport, Rhode Island. Perhaps the most famous Shingle Style house built in American was "Kragsyde" (1882) the summer home commissioned by Bostonian G. Nixon Black, from Peabody and Stearns. Kragsyde was built atop the rocky coastal shore near Manchester-By-the-Sea, Massachusetts, and embodied every possible tenet of the Shingle style. The William Low House, designed by Babb, Cook and Willard and built in 1887, is another notable example.

Many of the concepts of the Shingle Style were adopted by Gustav Stickley, and adapted to the American version of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Additionally, there are several other notable styles of Victorian architecture, including Italianate, Second Empire, Folk and Gothic revival.

Signicant concentrations of shingle style architecture preserved in U.S. National Register of Historic Places-listed historic districts include:

  • Houses in Sycamore Historic District, in Sycamore, Illinois
  • Fenwick Historic District, perhaps Connecticut's largest concentration
  • Montauk Association Historic District, on Long Island

Suggested Home Styles Books

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