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Eclectic Period

The eclectic period style of house includes six subgroups and contains many of the most popular designs in it.  It ranges from post Victorian through the modern house and includes:

  • Colonial Revival
  • Neoclassical
  • Tudor
  • Mediterranean
  • Craftsman & Bungalow
  • Modern

The Eclectic movement draws on the full spectrum of architectural tradition—Ancient Classical, Medieval, Renaissance Classical, or Modern—for stylistic inspiration. Unlike the free stylistic mixtures that dominated the preceding Victorian era, the Eclectic movement stresses relatively pure copies of these traditional styles as originally built in different European countries and their colonies. In Eclecticism many different styles vie with one another in a sort of friendly competition within which the sharpest lines are drawn between historical or “period” styles and “modern” styles that eschew earlier precedents.

The Eclectic movement began quietly in the last decades of the 19th century as fashionable, European-trained architects began to design landmark period homes for wealthy clients. The trend gained momentum with Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, which stressed correct historical interpretations of European styles. This early emphasis was interrupted and almost overwhelmed by the wave of architectural modernism, which, in the form of the Craftsman and Prairie styles, dominated American houses built during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Excerpted from A Field Guide to American Houses, Virginia and Lee McAlester, Alfred Knopf, New York, © 2000.