This may come as a shock, but America has never had a queen named Anne. As far as I know, and I’m definitely not a historian, so do some research before you quote me, but I’m fairly certain we’ve never had any queen, ever. Queen Anne style, though, now that’s something we can raise our hands on. Present, accounted for, on with the lesson.
Now, like everything else we Americans “claim,” Queen Anne style isn’t ours. It started over that-a-way, in England. The French and English people had a tradition of naming distinct styles in architecture after popular designs during a monarch’s reign. Queen Anne is lumped under the Victorian era of designs, noted for over-the-top ornamentation. “But, but… how can Queen Anne and Queen Victoria both be a thing at the same time?” you may be asking. Well, that’s because Queen Anne is a revival of sorts, utilizing designs from the previous century. The two queens didn’t reign at the same time, dueling to the death over who’d get what named after them. Obviously, if that had happened, we’d have seen the movie remake of it by now.
Now that we have that out of the way…
Imagine a really expensive dollhouse. Now make it even more intricate and detailed. That’s a Queen Anne building. Usually asymmetrical in appearance with a strong front-facing gable, cantilevered (despite how it sounds, not a tool for lifting melons, trust me, I looked) out over the wall below. Overhanging eaves, towers, shaped gables, wrap-around porch, often a second-story porch or, if the owners felt like keeping it simple, a balcony. And everywhere, anything they could think of to add ornamentation. Custom-designed shingles, columns, spindle-work, oriel windows, gigantic chimneys, painted balustrades, etc.
Toward the end of the Victorian Era, a British architect by the name of Charles Eastlake popularized a subset of the Queen Anne style, known as the Eastlake Style. It implemented geometric shapes made possible by the use of modern machines, which could then, only because of the modern techniques, be repeated all through the house, even in unusual places. While Charles Eastlake’s personal style emphasized “simple, elegant motifs,” a vast difference from the excesses of Victorian style, the Eastlake Style just used the geometric patterns to alter the form, keeping the dizzying intricacy. This was especially prevalent in America. Not surprisingly, Charles often wrote that he hated and “was appalled” by the direction in which other builders took his style.
Today, Queen Anne isn’t nearly as popular, but several aspects, such as the wrap-around porch, are incorporated into other designs. At the time of Queen Anne coming to America, architecture was such a growing, changing field that styles never really lasted much more than 10-20 years before being replaced by the next “style of the moment.”
Next week we’ll be talking about Shingle style, a personal favorite of Home Designing Service. It’s another subgroup of Queen Anne style, but with enough differences to deserve its own little group. Until then, if you’d like your very own life-sized dollhouse Queen Anne style house, contact us at:
Home Designing Service, Ltd
25 Meadows Rd.
Windsor, Connecticut 06095