At the turn of the 19thcentury, the town of Wyoming was growing in size and population. The streetcar began running along Springfield Pike in 1899 and made the community a desirable suburb. Farmland became residential neighborhoods and Wyoming annexed land at its northern and southern borders.
The homes built in Wyoming from 1900 to 1940 show a tremendous range of architectural styles. After decades of ornate Victorian designs, families moving to Wyoming in the early 20th Century sought something different for their homes. For some architects, the solution was a return to older, classical styles. For other architects, it was an opportunity to create new designs.
This article is third in a series about Wyoming’s architectural variety. Documents and books at the Wyoming Historical Society were the primary source of information for the story. The Houses We Live in: An Identification Guide to the History and Style of American Domestic Architecture, edited by Jeffery Howe, provided details of architectural styles. Click here and here for the previous two articles in the series.
Something Old: Our Colonial Connections
The United States celebrated its Centennial in 1876, prompting a nostalgic interest in American Colonial Revival architecture that is still strong today. Colonial Revival architecture brought a return to symmetry and restraint compared to the highly ornamented styles of the Victorian era. The homes are simple rectangular forms, with clapboard, shingle or brick exteriors. Windows are a uniform size, with decorative shutters. Colonial Revival architecture includes the Georgian Revival, Dutch Colonial, and Cape Cod styles.
Something Even Older: English Tudor Styles
With the “more is more” attitude of Victorian design, Queen Anne architecture borrowed steep roofs, towers, multiple gables, and half-timbering from England’s Tudor architecture and added porches, clapboard, shingles, and colorful trim.
Architects in the early 20th Century returned to using stone and brick along with half-timbering to be authentic to the romantic medieval style. Tudor Revival homes (1890-1940) have an asymmetric design with a dramatically steep roof and multiple gables. The front door is often set beneath an arched entrance and windows are typically tall and slender.
Something Old from the West: Mission Style
European architecture wasn’t the only source of inspiration for authentic styles. Mission Revival (1890-1920) evolved from California’s Spanish colonial heritage and quickly spread to other regions of the United States through design magazines. Mission Revival was more common in the Southwest and Florida, but there are several homes in Wyoming with the distinctive Mission Revival style. Mission Revival architecture uses stucco exteriors, decorative curved or stepped walls and parapets, and red tile roofs.
Something New: Authentic American Styles
Most architects in the United States in the early 1800s were trained in Europe and influenced by European design. By the late 1800s, a new wave of American-educated architects sought authentic American styles. In the Midwest, Frank Lloyd Wright created the new Prairie style, with strong horizontal proportions, low-pitched roofs, and open floor plans.
There are no Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Wyoming, but his influence appears in the American Foursquare design (1900-1910). The name comes from the four-room floor plan: a large entry area, a parlor, a dining room, and a kitchen. A full-width porch and the low-pitched hip roof reveal the horizontal lines of the Prairie style. The exteriors could be brick, stone, or clapboard siding.
Craftsman and Bungalow Houses
The Arts and Crafts movement began in Europe in the late 1800s, in reaction to the Industrial Revolution and the excesses of Victorian styles, and quickly became popular in the U.S. The Arts and Crafts philosophy promoted a simpler lifestyle with fine craftsmanship and natural materials, and inspired the Craftsman bungalow design.
The name “bungalow” comes from the Hindi word bangla, meaning “belonging to Bengal.” British colonials occupying India adapted Bengali cottages into 1½-story houses with a wide covered porch and an open floor plan for good airflow (key before air-conditioning). The simple design was perfect for affordable homes in the U.S. There are over 30 bungalow-style homes within the Historic District, and many more north and west of the district.
Sears, Roebuck, & Co., a rapidly growing company at the time, sold kits for bungalows with everything needed to build the home, including nails, shingles, precut lumber, and a detailed construction manual. Look for a future article in What’s Up Wyoming with photos of some of the Sears Kit homes here in Wyoming.
Learn More About Wyoming’s Architecture
This article mentions only a few of the beautiful homes in Wyoming. The National Register of Historic Places lists almost 300 buildings in Wyoming’s Historic District, and over 100 of those homes are from the early 20th century. Additional examples of the styles discussed in this article can be found throughout Wyoming.
The Wyoming Historical Society is an excellent resource to learn more about homes of all eras and styles.