Virtually wherever you go in Massachusetts, you can take in a wide array of different architectural styles. Since the region has been settled for centuries, many prime examples of various architectural styles can be found in cities and towns around the state. Victorian architecture is no exception. In fact, there are numerous excellent examples of this ornate architectural style around greater Boston. Whether you would like to eventually buy and live in a Victorian home or if you are just curious about the various aspects of this architectural style, Boston City Properties has you covered. Read on to learn more about Victorian architecture in Boston and around the state.
You don't have to be an architectural grad to be familiar with the Victorian style. Indeed, most people can instantly conjure a basic image of what a Victorian home or building looks like. More than anything, this type of architecture is very ornate and busy. Bursting with intricate details and dramatic touches, Victorian architecture is in a class of its own. From the Victorian brownstones of Back Bay to the brick row houses of South End, which constitute the largest, most continuous array of Victorian homes in the nation, Boston is awash in fine examples of this intriguing architectural style.
As was the custom of the time, this style of architecture was named for the reigning monarch, who happened to be Queen Victoria. She ruled from 1837 until 1901, so that is roughly the period during which Victorian architecture took hold. While the Victorian style was popular throughout New England and elsewhere in the U.S., it was especially popular in eastern Massachusetts. As a result, you can easily find extant examples of fine Victorian homes that were built during the Victorian heyday. These homes have been lovingly preserved through the years, so you can easily get a feel for how they were back in the day.
Victorian architecture was initially developed in England. It didn't take long, however, for the style to make its way across the sea. Architects who had adopted the style in England brought it to America, where is quickly caught on. Unlike many architectural styles, which are primarily reserved for churches, libraries, courthouses and other public buildings, Victorian architecture was overwhelmingly featured in residential homes. From detached single-family homes to row houses and townhouses, examples of elegant and eye-catching Victorian architecture abound throughout the area.
Some of the most common characteristics of Victorian architecture include:
• Tall and narrow - Generally speaking, Victorian homes tend to be tall and narrow. This is true whether they are detached or if they are part of a row of townhouses or row houses. Most Victorian homes are two or three stories tall.
• Steep roofs - Steeply pitched roofs are a staple of the Victorian look. Such roofs work very well in cold climates like Boston's, where snow and ice are all too common. Ice and snow are less able to collect on roofs, so this is an optimal design.
• Towers and turrets - When you look at a Victorian house, you're likely to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the features. In particular, Victorian homes often boast one or more towers or turrets. Towers are usually cylindrical, but some are octagonal. One would think that towers and turrets make these homes look like castles, but they don't quite achieve that effect.
• Gables - Gables are another distinctive feature of these homes. In most cases, these homes boast multiple gables, and the gables tend to point in many different directions. It may sound like this would create a chaotic look, but when combined with other elements, it is quite visually pleasing.
• Asymmetry - Victorian architecture is deliberately "unbalanced," or asymmetrical. One side of the house might boast a tall tower while the other lacks a matching companion. Windows on one end of the house don't typically correspond with those on the other end. Virtually any feature that you notice on the exterior of a Victorian home is unlikely to be repeated on the opposite side.
• Bay windows - You would be hard-pressed to find a true Victorian home without at least one bay window. Often times, the inside of this type of window boasts a level surface that may be used for lounging about. People often place cushions on these areas to make them more comfortable or to enhance their style. Windows in these homes also often incorporate stained glass elements into their design.
• Iron railings - Victorian homes typically have at least a few iron railings. Sometimes, they are placed over windows on upper levels. Other times, they wrap around balconies. In many cases, such homes are located on plots of land that are bordered by wrought iron fences and gates.
• Patterned brickwork - Pay attention when looking at a Victorian home or building. You are likely to find at least a few sections where the brickwork creates an eye-catching visual pattern. This may be done by alternating which side of the brick faces out or by using bricks of various different colors.
• Slate roofs - In addition to being steeply pitched, roofs on these homes are traditionally made out of slate. However, it is easy to find Victorian homes with other types of roofs.
• Materials - Most Victorian homes are made out of brick, stone, wood or some combination of the three. New homes that are built in the Victorian style may feature different materials.
If you are in the market for a traditional Victorian home, you should be aware that these homes don't usually have garages of any kind. Those that do typically have detached garages, as attached garages were not a thing during the period when this architectural style became popular. After all, it was long before cars were even invented.
You can easily find great examples of Victorian architecture around Boston and Massachusetts. As mentioned previously, the South End is home to what many believe to be the largest and most continuously occupied neighborhood of Victorian homes in the country. This Victorian neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a Boston Landmark District. Head over to check out streets that are lined with stately Victorian row houses made out of bricks. Back Bay is also famous for its gorgeous, lovingly maintained Victorian row houses. This neighborhood was planned out before it was built, so the Victorian row houses here are especially beautiful.
Would you like to own a lovely Victorian home somewhere in Massachusetts? You are definitely spoiled for choices. If you prefer a row house or townhouse, your best bet is to stick with more urban areas. If you would rather own a detached Victorian home, you are probably best off looking in the suburbs or out in the country. Boston City Properties has real estate experts around the state and city who can help you locate Victorian homes that meet your criteria. We also have a huge database of MA real estate listings. Sign up to get free access to it right away. If you have any questions or need help at any time, please contact Boston City Properties.