12 Early Colonial
18 Georgian
24 Spanish Colonial
30 Federal
34 Jeffersonian
36 Greek Revival
40 Gothic Revival
46 Italianate
50 Exotic Revivals
52 Second Empire
56 Stick Style
57 Queen Anne
60 Shingle Style
62 Richardsonian Romanesque
66 Beaux-Arts
70 Classical Revival
72 Chicago School
76 Bungalows
80 Prairie Style
84 Period Houses
88 Art Deco
92 International Style

Early Colonial
Few structures remain from the first English settlements on the East Coast, and those that do exhibit marked regional variations… In New England, where hardwoods were plentiful, the massive hewn and pegged house frame was almost universal… In the southern colonies, one-story houses (often brick) with end chimneys were predominant in the 17th century.

The architecture of the British colonies in North America from 1714 to 1776.

Spanish Colonial
An architectural style best known by the simple adobe to imposing Baroque inspired missions of the Southwest. Domestic architecture characterized by: single story structures with flat or low pitched roofs, stucco covered stone or adobe brick walls, multiple doors, and sometimes verandas as well as courtyards (patios) with corridors (interior verandas).


Many of the new states built capitols to house their elected officials and to serve as symbols of their new authority and prestige… In addition to the Virginia State Capitol, Jefferson is remembered for his unique architectural achievement at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville… Many red-brick houses and courthouses that derive from Jefferson’s architectural theories are found in Virginia and states where Virginians settled. They could be termed Roman Revival, but it is perhaps more fitting to call them Jeffersonian.

Greek Revival
An architectural style characterized by: low-pitched gable (or sometimes hipped) roof, a frieze, a pedimented gable, a porch (or portico) with usually non-fluted columns, insignificant chimneys, elongated six-over-six double hung windows, a four panel door flanked by side lights with a transom window above, and bevel siding.

Gothic Revival
A housing style from 1840-1860 with deep gables, dormers, arched windows, and all forms of gingerbread. Read more…

An architectural style characterized by: two or three stories, low-pitched hip (or sometimes gable) roof with widely overhanging eaves supported by large brackets, a cupola or tower, visually balanced façade, decorative bracketed crowns or lintels over windows and doors, and narrow single pane double hung windows and double doors. Read more…

Exotic Revivals
Architectural styles borrowing elements from “exotic” cultures. The Egyptian Revival is probably the best known from this group. It is easily identified by massive columns that resemble a bundle of stalks tied together and bulging at the top. Moorish and Turkish architectural traditions also influenced design in America.

Second Empire
An architectural style characterized by: two or three stories, mansard (double-pitched) roof with multicolored slate shingles or metal shingles and dormer windows, pedimented and bracketed slender windows, ornate moldings and brackets (especially under the eaves), arched double doors, and, oftentimes, porches or projecting pavilions. Read more…

Stick Style
A style of wood construction that appeared after the Civil War, designed to suggest the wood framework beneath. Vertical, horizontal, and diagonal flat boards organize the exterior elevations by outlining panels of various siding textures. “Sticks” were also used to decorate gables, porch supports, and brackets. Read more…

Queen Anne
An architectural style characterized by: irregularity of plan and massing, variety of color and texture, variety of window treatment, multiple steep roofs, porches with decorative gables, frequent use of bay windows, chimneys that incorporated molded brick or corbelling, and wall surfaces that vary in texture and material used.

Shingle Style
An architectural style characterized by: uniform wall covering of wood shingles, hip or gable roofs with dormer windows, irregular roof line, small-paned windows, no corner boards, and a generally toned down appearance from that found with the Queen Anne style. Read more…

Richardsonian Romanesque
In only a few instances has an American architectural style been so influenced by one figure as to bear that person’s name. But it was with Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-86) and the late 19th-century Romanesque Revival. Read more…

French for “fine arts,” also the name of the influential Parisian architectural school (Ecole des Beaux-Arts) that influenced American architects and architectural education.

Classical Revival
The Italian Renaissance or neoclassical movements in England and the United States in the 19th century that looked to the traditions of Greek and Roman antiquity.

Chicago School
The early modern style of Louis Sullivan, John Wellborn Root, William Le Baron Jenney, and company: birth-school of the skyscraper.

Bungalows display a fine degree of craftmanship and are constructed of materials left as close as possible to their natural state…

Prairie Style
An early 20th-century design that rejected historical and Classical styles in favor of open, flowing floor plans and a strongly horizontal character, suggesting, some say, the Midwestern prairie. Centered in Chicago, it is strongly associated with its boldest practitioner, Frank Lloyd Wright, although he worked beside several capable peers. Read more…

Period Houses
Georgian Revival, Spanish colonial revival and even revivals of styles that had never been seen in America were popular during the first third of the 20th century, especially for residential architecture

Art Deco
An architectural style characterized by: an overall linear, angular, vertical appearance; stepped façade; extensive use of zig-zags, chevrons, lozenges, and volutes as decorative elements; and vertical projections above the roof line.

International Style
A functional architecture devoid of regional characteristics, developed in the 1920s and 1930s in Western Europe and the U.S. and applied throughout the world: characterized by simple geometric forms, large untextured, often white surfaces, large areas of glass, and general use of steel or reinforced concrete construction. Read more…

ADOBE A sun-dried, unburned brick of earth (generally clay) and straw; a structure made with such bricks,
AISLE A part of a church parallel to the nave and divided from it by piers or columns; a passageway between rows of scats, such as in a church or auditorium.
ARCADE A series of arches supported by columns or piers; a building or part of a building with a series of arches; a roofed passageway, especially one with shops on either side.
ARCHITRAVE The lower part of a classical entablature, resting directly on the capital of a column; the molding around a window or door
ASHLAR Hewn or squared stone, also masonry of such stone; a thin, dressed rectangle of stone for facing walls, also called ashlar veneer.
ASTYLAR Without columns or pilasters.
AXIALITY Symmetrical disposition of parts of a building or of structures along an axis.
BALUSTER An upright, often vase-shaped, support for a rail.
BALUSTRADE A series of balusters, with a rail,
BAND WINDOWS A horizontal series of uniform windows that appear to have little or no separation between them.
BAPTISTERY Apart of a church; formerly, a separate building used for baptism.
BARGEBOARD A board, often ornately curved, attached to the projecting edges of a gabled roof; sometimes referred to as verge¬board.
BATTER The receding upward slope of a wall or structure.
This glossary is a guide to common architectural terms. For more precise definitions, consult architectural dictionaries listed in the bibliography.
BATTLEMENT A parapet built with indentations for defense or decoration.
BAY One unit of a building that consists of a series of similar units, commonly defined by the number of window and door openings per floor or by the space between columns or piers.
BELT COURSE A narrow horizontal band projecting from the exterior walls of a building, usually defining the interior floor levels.
BLIND ARCH An arch that does not contain an opening for a window or door but is set against or indented within a wall.
BRACE A diagonal stabilizing member of a building frame.
BRACKET A support element under eaves, shelves or other overhangs; often more decorative than functional.
BUTTRESS A projecting structure of masonry or wood for supporting or giving stability to a wall or building.
CANTILEVER A projecting beam or part of a structure supported only at one end.
CAPITAL The top, decorated part of 1 column or pilaster crowning the shaft and supporting the entablature.
CARTOUCHE An ornamental panel in the form of a scroll, circle or oval, often bearing an inscription.
CASEMENT A window with sash hung vertically and opening inward or outward.
CASTELLATED Having battlements and turrets, like a medieval castle.
CAST IRON Iron, shaped in a mold, that is brittle, hard and cannot be welded; in 19th¬century American commercial architecture, cast-iron units were used frequently to form entire facades.
CHEVRON A V-shaped decoration generally used as a continuous molding.
CHIMNEY POT A pipe placed on top of a chimney, usually of earthenware, that functions as a continuation of the flue and improves the draft.
CLAPBOARD A long, narrow board with one edge thicker than the other, overlapped to cover the outer walls of franc structures; also known as weatherboard
CLASSICAL Pertaining to the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome.
CLERESTORY The upper part of the nave, transepts and choir of a church containing windows; also, any similar windowed wall or construction used for light and ventilation.
CORBEL A bracket or block projecting from the face of a wall that generally supports a cornice, beam or arch.
CORINTHIAN ORDER The most ornate of the classical Greek orders of architecture, characterized by a slender fluted column with a bell-shaped capital decorated with stylized acanthus leaves; variations of this order were extensively used by the Romans.
CORNICE In classical architecture, the upper, projecting section of an entablature; projecting ornamental molding along the top of a building or wall.
COURSED MASONRY A wall with continuous horizontal layers of stone or brick.
CRENELLATION A battlement.
CROCKET In Gothic architecture, carved projections in the shape of stylized leaves that decorate the edges of spires, gables and pinnacles.
CUPOLA A dome-shaped roof on a circular base, often set on the ridge of a roof.
DEPENDENCY A structure subordinate to or serving as an adjunct to a main building.
DORIC ORDER The oldest and simplest of the classical Greek orders, characterized by heavy fluted columns with no base, plain saucer-shaped capitals and a bold simple cornice.
DORMER A vertically set window on a sloping roof; the roofed structure housing such a window.
DOUBLE-HUNG SASH WINDOW A window with two sash, one above the other, arranged to slide vertically past each other.
DOUBLE PORTICO A projecting two-story porch with columns and a pediment.
EAVES The projecting overhang at the lower edge of a roof.
EGG-AND-DART MOLDING A decorative molding comprising alternating egg-shaped and dart-shaped motifs.
ENTABLATURE In classical architecture, the part of a structure between the column capital and the roof or pediment, comprising the architrave, frieze and cornice.
EYEBROW DORMER A low dormer in which the arched roofline forms a reverse curve at each end, giving it the general outline of an eyebrow.
FANLIGHT A semicircular or fan-shaped window with radiating members or tracery set over a door or window.
FENESTRATION The arrangement of windows in a wall.
FESTOON A carved, molded or painted garland of fruit, flowers or leaves suspended between two points in a curve.
FINIAL An ornament at the top of a spire, gable or pinnacle.
FLEMISH GABLE A gable with stepped and occasionally multicurved sides, derived from 16th-century Netherland prototypes.
FLUTED Having regularly spaced vertical, parallel grooves or ‘flutes,” as on the shaft of a column, pilaster or other surface.
FOLIATED Decorated with leaf ornamentation or a design comprising arcs or lobes.
GABLE A triangular wall segment at the end of a double-¬pitched or gabled roof.
GALLERY A roofed promenade, colonnade or corridor; an outdoor balcony; in the South, a porch or veranda.
GAMBREL A ridged roof with two slopes on each side, the lower slope having the steeper pitch.
HACIENDA In Spanish ¬speaking countries or areas influenced by Spain, a large estate, plantation or ranch; also, the house of the ranch owner; in the southwestern United States, a low sprawling house with projecting roof and wide porches.
HALF TIMBERING Wall construction in which the spaces between members of the timber frame are filled with brick, stone or other material,
HEWN AND PEGGED A frame construction system in which the beams are hewn with an adze (predating saws) and joined by large wooden pegs.
HIPPED ROOF A roof with four uniformly pitched sides.
HOOD MOLDING A large molding over a window, originally designed to direct water away from the wall; also called a drip molding.
HORSESHOE ARCH An arch shaped like a horseshoe; common in Islamic architecture.
IONIC ORDER An order of classical Greek architecture characterized by a capital with two opposed volutes.
LANCET A narrow pointed arch.
LANTERN A structure built on the top of a roof with open or windowed walls.
LEADED GLASS Small panes of glass held in place with lead strips; the glass may be clear or stained.
LEAN-TO A simple structural addition that has a single-pitch roof.
LOZENGE A diamond-shaped decorative motif.
MANSARD ROOF A roof that has two slopes on all four sides
MASONRY Wall construct ion of materials such as stone, brick and adobe.
MEASURED DRAWING An exact-scale drawing based on measurements taken from an existing building.
MEDALLION An object resembling a large medal or coin.
MINARET A tall, slender tower attached to a mosque with one or more projecting balconies
MITER The edge of a piece of material, generally wood, that has been beveled preparatory to making a miter joint.
MODILLION An ornamental bracket or console used in series under the cornice of the Corinthian order and other,
MOLDED BRICK Brick shaped in a mold, commonly in decorative shapes.
MOLDING A continuous decorative band that is either carved into or applied to a surface.
MULLION A vertical member separating (and often supporting) windows, doors or panels set in a ,cries.
NAVE The long, narrow main part of a church that rises higher than the flanking aisles.
NOGGING The brick or rubble material used to fill the spaces between wooden frames.
OBELISK A tall, four-sided shaft that is tapered and crowned with a pyramidal point.
ORDER Any of several specific styles of classical and Renaissance architecture characterized by the type of column used (e.g., I Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite, Tuscan).
PALLADIAN WINDOW A tripartite window opening with a large arched central light and t flanking rectangular side lights.
PARAPET A low, solid, protective wall or railing along t he edge of a roof or balcony.
PATERA A circular ornament used in decorative relief work.
PAVILION A part of a building I projecting from the rest; an ornamental structure in a garden or park.
PEDIMENT A wide, low-¬pitched gable surmounting the facade of a building in a classical style; any similar triangular crowning element used over doors, windows and niches.
PILASTER A shallow pier attached to a wall; often decorated to resemble a classical column.
PLINTH The base of a pedestal, column or statue; a continuous course of stones supporting a wall.
PODIUM A low platform or base.
POLYCHROMY The use of many colors in decoration, especially in architecture and statuary.
PORTAL The principal entry of a structure or wall of a city.
PORTE COCHERE A large covered entrance porch through which vehicles um drive.
PORTICO A major porch, usually with a pedimented roof supported by classical columns.
PRESSED METAL Thin sheets of metal molded into decorative designs and used to cover interior walls and ceilings.
PUEBLO Indian communities in the Southwest with distinctive flat-roofed structures of adobe and stone.
QUOIN Units of stone or brick used to accentuate the corners of a building.
REEDED Decoration of parallel convex moldings (the opposite of fluted).
REREDOS An ornamental screen behind an altar
REVEAL The vertical side of a door or window opening between the frame and the wall surface.
RINC EAU A band ( of ornament I consisting of intertwining foliage.
ROCOCO The decorative style developed from the baroque; characterized by delicacy, light colors and a general reduction in building scale.
ROSETTE Stylized floral decoration.
RUSTICATION Masonry cut in massive blocks separated from each other by deep joints.
SALTBOX A gabled-roof house in which the rear slope is much longer than the front.
SASH A frame in which the panes of a window arc set.
SETBACK An architectural expedient in which the upper stories of a tall building arc stepped back from the lower stories; designed to permit more light to reach street level.
SHAFT The main part of a column between the base and capital.
SKELETON FRAME A freestanding frame of iron or steel that supports the weight of
a building and on which the floors and outer covering arc hung.
SPANDREL The triangular space between adjacent arches and the horizontal molding, cornice or framework above them; in skeleton frame construction, the horizontal panels below and above windows between the continuous vertical piers.
SPINDLE A turned wooden element, often used in screens, stair railings and porch trim.
STAIR HALL A room specifically designed to contain a staircase.
STAIR TOWER A projecting tower that contains a staircase serving all floors; usually found in castles and chateaux.
What Style is It,’
STRINGCOURSE A narrow, continuous ornamental band set in the face of a building as a design element; also known as a cordon.
SWAG A festoon in which the object suspended resembles a piece of draped cloth.
TERRA COTTA A fine¬-grained, brown-red, fired clay used for roof tiles and decoration; literally, cooked earth.
TRACERY The curved mullions of a stone- framed window; ornamental work of pierced patterns in or on a screen, window glass or panel.
TREFOIL A design of three lobes, similar to a cloverleaf.
TUDOR ARCH A low, wide, pointed arch common in the architecture of Tudor England.
TURRET A small, slender tower usually at the corner of a building, often containing a circular stair.
VAULT An arched ceiling of masonry.
VERANDA A roofed open gallery or porch.
VIGA A wooden beam used in a series to support the roof of an Indian pueblo structure; the ends usually project through the outer walls.
VOLUTE A spiral, scroll-like ornament.
WATTLE AND DAUB A method of construction with thin branches (wattles) plastered over with clay mud (daub).
WEATHERBOARD Clap board; wooden siding.

Sources Cited

Poppeliers, John C.; S. Allen Chamber, Jr., Nancy B. Schwartz. What Style is it? 1983.