Just For Fun
The Federal style was the first truly American house style and is found mostly in states on the East Coast. Good Finger Lakes examples are the Halsey-Beebe House and the Bank of Newburgh Building in downtown Ithaca.
Look for: fanlights and sidelights around the front door, keystone lintels above windows, shutters, and balustrades.
The Greek Revival style swept the Finger Lakes in the 1920s. Americans at that time saw themselves as heirs to the ancient Greek Democracy, and they sympathized with contemporary Greeks’ struggle for independence. Central New Yorkers’ interest in all things Greek shows up in place names and in the Greek temples that dot the countryside and line old village streets. An outstanding Tompkins County example is the Camp House in Trumansburg.
Look for: triangular pediment, “eyebrow” windows, columns or pilasters, and multi-paned windows.
Houses and commercial buildings in the Italianate style are common in Finger Lakes cities and rural areas. The style was inspired by farmhouses of the Italian countryside. Ithaca’s Boardman House on DeWitt Park is an excellent example of an italianate residence.
Look for: a shallow hip roof, cupola, columned verandas or porches, arched windows with decorative window hoods, ornate eave cornices with dentils and brackets.
The Second Empire style imitted the grand architecture built in France under Napoleon III. Its distinguishing feature is the mansard roof, with its steep, sloped roof edge and dormer windows.
Look for: roofs decorated with slate or shaped shingles, cast iron roof crestings, bracketed eave cornices, arched window hoods, and ornate porches.
The Classical Revival was popular throughout the country in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It traces its roots to Greek and Roman architecture, with some elements borrowed from earlier American styles such as Georgian Colonial and Greek Revival. Classical Revival houses are generally rectangular, with low-pitched roofs and classical details such as columns, pilasters, and balustrades, and early American elements such as window shutters and sidelights.
Gothic Revival houses echo Medieval rather than Classical styles and were championed by the popular architect Andrew Jackson Downing. In the Ithaca area they are mostly found in cities and villages, but 1616 Ridge Road in Lansing is a fine rural example.
Look for: steeply pitched roofs with cross gables, ornately decorated vergeboards, windows with pointed arches or drip moldings, one-story porches.
The American Centennial celebrations of 1876 prompted Americans to examine their own past. One of the results of this introspection was the Colonial Revival style, which drew on Federal and Dutch Colonial styles, among others.
Look for: symmetrical facade with a side gable or gambrel roof, six-over-six double-hung windows, projecting second story.
The Tudor Revival style draws its inspiration from late Medieval houses. Although the earliest American examples date from the 1890s, most examples date from the 1920s when the style became very popular in suburban neighborhoods. In the Ithaca area we are likely to find Tudors in Cayuga Heights and Belle Sherman.
Look for: steeply pitched roof with cross gables, multi-paned double-hung windows, half-timbering as a decorative rather than structural element.
Contemporary houses are based on modern structural principals and materials. Functionality is key, and floorplans are open and practical.
Look for: asymmetry, lack of ornamentation, horizontal lines, strips of windows alternating with solid planes, natural materials such as cedar, stone, stucco, open floor plans, flat roofs, attention to setting.
This contemporary style was very popular in the 1960s-1980s. In the Ithaca area they are often found in rural, wooded settings, such as Ellis Hollow.
Look for: multiple roofs angled in different directions, wood shingle or vertical board exteriors, recessed doorways, irregularly placed windows, complete absence of symmetry.