Americans sure love residential design. From the cottages in the northeast to the cabins in the northwest, the manors in the southeast to the mansions in the southwest, it’s safe to say that—from an architectural perspective, at least—no country on the planet displays such a degree of visual variance. To celebrate that, we’ve put together the ultimate photographic compendium of American architecture. Here, state by state, is the most popular, most distinct house style. And for more amazing trivia about America, check out The Craziest Fact About Every U.S. State.
Beginning in the 17th century, the I-House (named after the fact that these homes were first found in Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa), or plantation, became the most popular style of home in Alabama. Centuries later, this style remains a beacon of southern opulence. And for more amazing facts about Alabama, check out these 25 Craziest Facts About the South.
Alaska: Classic American Homestead
As you could expect, you won’t find Alaskans living in much else except for classic American homestead-style houses, insulated and outfitted to ensure that their rugged life is comfortable. Raised on stilts with wooden frames, these homes are relatively easy to build and last throughout many of the most brutal winters in the country.
Arizona: Pueblo Architecture
Present and popular throughout the southwestern desert of the United States, Pueblo architecture was first crafted centuries ago by the Pueblo people, according to Christie’s International Real Estate. These buildings are made out of “adobe bricks, a blend of earth and clay subsoils mixed with water, bound with straw and fibers, and cured in the sun”—perfect for keeping cool in the desert climate. Throughout Arizona, Pueblo buildings are a mainstay in the culture and architecture of the state’s buildings. And for more interesting facts about the history of America, check out these 25 Real Life Places in America That Many Believe Are Cursed.
Arkansas: Greek Revival
According to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Greek Revival homes became incredibly popular during the beginning part of the 19th century in Arkansas. Basically, these homes are characterized by columns and a front door with surrounding lights that are usually incorporated into a more elaborate structure. The most famous examples of this architecture in Arkansas are the Frog Level Plantation and the Leake-Ingham Building in Camden.
California: Mediterranean Mansions
Thanks to a climate that is fairly similar to the temperate one that exists in the Mediterranean, California’s Mediterranean-style mansions found their place among the wealthy elites beginning in the early part of the 20th century. Some also call this style Spanish Eclectic, for the few Italian influences that exist in California’s architecture, according to California Home. Just a hundred years after it became popular in the state, Mediterranean mansions dominate the landscape. And for reasons to treasure homes on the smaller side, check out these 13 Reasons You Should Be Glad You Don’t Live in a Huge House.
Colorado: Rustic Mountain Log Cabins
More than anything, Colorado is famous for its rustic mountain retreats, sprawled upon hills and mountains overlooking breathtaking scenery. Just in the past few decades, rustic retreats have become the desired destination among those looking to truly take in the beauty of the land surrounding them.
As the Hartford Courant pointed out, the first settlers to land in Connecticut built unassuming structures—wood-framed houses covered with clapboard or shingles, to protect themselves from the harsh New England winters. The Thomas Lee House in East Lyme, dating back to circa 1660, is the prime example of this style of architecture’s influence on the state centuries later.
Delaware: Queen Anne-Style
First showing up in New York City—via Great Britain design sensibilities—in the latter part of the 19th century, the Queen Anne-style architecture eventually wound its way to Delaware, where the home’s wrap-around porches, corner towers, and artistic finishes injected a sense of old-world charm to the state.
Florida: Cracker Homes
Built by Florida’s early pioneers, the Cracker Home—with its pitched metal roof, a deep front porch, and elevated platform—was built to withstand the harsh climate of the South. Today, according to Houzz, this style of home is incredibly popular due to its energy efficiency and charm. Modern homes built in this style add antique colors, large windows, and open floor plans to bring forth a sense of nostalgia and comfort to homeowners.
Georgia: Victorian Architecture
The state of Georgia has gone through cycles of different architecture for the past few centuries. Victorian villas have remained the mainstay of Georgian architecture, however, developing from the colonial homes of the deep South.
Hawaii: Island Plantation-Style
While Hawaiian architecture has borrowed ideas from the various European cultures that dominated the land in the previous centuries, Island Plantation-style architecture became very popular in the 1970s and ’80s and copied from the building style used in the sugarcane plantation labor camps. According to Bali Hai Realty, these homes are easily distinguishable by their wide-hipped roofs, deep-bracketed eaves, big porticos, and vertical plank siding.
Idaho: Shabby Chic Wooden Structures
According to realtor.com, the state of Idaho is famous for its shabby chic style—inside and outside of the home. Using various design elements of the traditional log cabin and modern style, shabby chic wooden structures in Idaho have become the norm over the past century, at least.
Illinois: Prairie Houses
Frank Lloyd Wright’s outsize presence is felt around the state of Illinois, in no small part due to the Prairie Houses he pioneered, which are characterized by open-plan interiors, horizontal lines, and use of locally-sourced materials. To take it from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, Prairie houses were inspired by the “flat landscape of America’s midwest” and were “the first uniquely American architectural style.”
Indiana: Modernist Style
As it turns out, Indiana, similarly to neighboring Illinois, was a mecca for modernist architecture. Cultivated by architects like Eero Saarinen, Richard Meier, and I.M Pei, this style resembled a modern version of the American ranch house—rustic yet refined, and with a hint of artistic flair.
Iowa: Moffitt Cottages
Moffitt Cottages were considered the first “eco houses,” originally built as a cheap and sturdy alternative for low-income families in Iowa. Built between 1916 and the mid-1930s, these homes were considered eco-friendly because they used salvaged parts collected from demolition sites.
Large, single-story Western-style ranches are the primary housing structures seen around the state of Kansas. Evocative of the larger ranches out West, these structures often feature a dazzling front porch and large patio to enjoy outdoor functions.
Kentucky: Colonial Red Brick
According to the National Park Service, early builders in Kentucky took advantage of the clay of that region by using it to build strong and beautiful structures all across the state. These elegant homes were built in the colonial style, beginning in the 19th century—and are still incredibly popular, especially in Lexington.
Louisiana: French Creole-Style
Throughout all of Louisiana, the French Creole presence is prominent in the language, culture, and architecture that exists in the state. French Creole architecture is characterized by generous galleries of space, placement of the principal rooms well above grade (or well above ground level), multiple French doors, and roofs supported by light wooden columns, according to the National Park Service.
Displayed in the image above, Georgian-style architecture is largely characterized by an uneven number of windows present on the front of the home. In general, New England is a place rich in architectural history, as a large number of European settlers once called this area home. In Maine, more specifically, the Georgian influence still reigns supreme—particularly on the promenades of Portland.
Massachusetts: Cape Cod House
Massachusetts is also home to one of New England’s most famous architectural styles: the Cape Cod house. These structures were created out of response to the harsh weather of Massachusetts and British building customs brought over in the 17th century, according to House Method. These modest homes were made using shingle siding that did not need to be painted and pitched roofs and expansive fireplaces that keep the New England cold at bay.
In contrast to the French Creole architecture present in Louisiana, the homes in Maryland were constructed to be modest. Primarily taking their influence from British Georgian architecture, the colonial-style homes present in Maryland are more often than not built symmetrically.
Michigan: Arts and Crafts
At Detroit’s peak during their dominance over the motor industry in the 1930s, the presence of Art Deco inspired a sort of arts and crafts approach to the city (and inevitably, the state’s) unique architecture. The Penobscot Building, a 47-story tiered tower in downtown Detroit, is a perfect—if enormous and certainly not everyday—example of this arts and crafts movement.
Minnesota: Spacious Ranches
Usually only containing one or two stories, the spacious ranches in Minnesota are known for being incredibly traditional, borrowing elements only from the homes out West.
Mississippi: Federal Style
According to the Mississippi Historical Society (MHS), Federal-style architecture, based on the neo-classical architecture of British architects Robert and James Adam, was the first very style of architecture in the state—and, because of this, is still incredibly prevalent in the area. Here’s the MHS: “It makes use of classical columns and ornament inspired by ancient Roman architecture. In addition to the classical columns, the Federal style is identified by the use of semi-circular fanlights over doors, oval windows in pediments, and delicately carved interior woodwork.”
Missouri: Artistic Craftsman
The artistic craftsman homes present in Missouri feature low-pitched gabled roofs, brick chimneys, private front porches, and well-maintained gardens. Beginning in the 1930s, Missouri’s artistic homes seek to bring forth a sense of comfort and unique flair to every neighborhood in the state.
Montana: Alpine Cabins
Since Montana is known for its alpine ski resorts, it makes sense that the state would be equally famous for its plentiful amount of alpine cabins—architecture that has made the state of Montana synonymous with skiing and winter sports.
Nebraska: Edwardian-Style Homes
Though the state of Nebraska has gone through many changes in the past few centuries, it is the Edwardian-style family home, with its focus on simplicity and decorative finishes. While Edwardian-style homes feature some of the same characteristics of the Victorian-era architecture on the outside of the home, on the inside, the decoration was minimal, except around the fireplaces, which were considered the gathering places.
Nevada: Tuscan-Style Villas
Taking their inspiration specifically from Italian architecture, the state of Nevada builds their homes to resemble Tuscan-style villas in order to shield their inhabitants from the harsh desert sun. Featuring small windows, shallow roof lines, and stucco exterior walls, these homes are built to be beautiful retreats from the sun, according to the Las Vegas Home Specialist.
New Hampshire: Modern Cape Cod
Along with Massachusetts, New Hampshire also contains a generous amount of Cape Cod homes—though, in this state, they tend to be a bit more updated. In this updated version of the Cape Cod-style home seen in Massachusetts, homeowners will now be able to enjoy the addition of a columned front porch.
New Jersey: Colonial Dutch Revival
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the large number of Dutch settlers in the Northeastern part of the country (especially in New Jersey and New York) greatly influenced the architecture of the land. Tall and narrow, and featuring wide-plank wooden flooring, crown moldings, and vintage fireplaces, these buildings are near-direct representations of those built during the late 17th century and early 18th century.
New Mexico: Pueblo Revival
The ancestral Puebloans, the Anasazi, inevitably had the biggest impact on the state’s architecture, according to Frommer’s. Then, along with influences from Spanish missionaries, who settled in New Mexico as early as the 17th century, the Pueblo Revival architectural movement was born. Across the state (but especially present in the community of Taos), visitors can get a sense of the state’s history through the adobe dwellings of the land, featuring smooth, stuccoed exteriors and flat roofs, painted in neutral colors with colorful accents.
New York: Brownstones
Just one venture through the streets of New York City will tell you that brownstones are, by sheer numbers, the dominant architectural force in the state. These townhouses—which you can find pretty much everywhere, but most commonly in “Brownstone Brooklyn” (Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights), Chelsea, the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, Harlem, and some parts of Midtown Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx—were first created as a happy union between two things that 19th-century buyers wanted: design inspired by romantic classicism, and affordability, according to Street Easy.
North Carolina: British Georgian
Similar to the Georgian style present in other states, the one in North Carolina is a bit more refined and laid back. In most British-inspired Georgian homes in North Carolina, you’ll find a sunroom, colonnaded terrace, and beautiful gardens.
North Dakota: Artistic Woodwork
While you may think of North Dakota as a land with mostly ghost towns and farmlands, the rich architectural history is hard to miss once you muster the courage to pay a visit to the state. According to the Society of Architectural Historians, North Dakota was heavily influenced by its European settlers, with a number of architectural styles blossoming under the direction of expert carpenters. This expertise led to the artistic woodwork visible on many older Victorian buildings in the state.
Ohio: Industrial Lofts
Also called the “International style,” industrial buildings became one of the more popular forms of architecture, beginning in the 20th century. According to Ohio History Host, industrial buildings featured a combination of international elements, along with a certain flair from the Art Deco movement. This eventually translated into the tall and bare-boned industrial lofts that dominate Ohio’s landscape.
As the folks at Love Property point out, Oklahoma is truly all-American when it comes to architecture—they were perhaps the one to invent the idea of the “white picket fence” style of living. Known for its homes built on conservative design values, Oklahoma prides itself on homes that feature spacious chimneys, large front yards, and yes—white picket fences.
Oregon: A-Frame Cottages
Though it’s likely that Oregon has a generous sampling of every style of architecture since the colonial period, they have become famous for their quaint and unique A-frame cottages, according to Architectural Digest. The A-frame cottage has become synonymous with a trip through the most beautiful part of the Oregonian woods. Outfitted with enough windows to bring a heavenly supply of light into any room, these cottages feel equally cozy and open.
Pennsylvania: Folk Victorian Homes
Pennsylvania has set itself apart from other states with a heavy Victorian influence, adding folk charm to each corner of the 19th- and 20th-century homes. According to Bellefonte Arts, Folk Victorian homes are special in the fact that they often feature porches with spindle-work or jig-sawed trim and lack the towers and elaborate molding.
Rhode Island: Providence-Style Architecture
Rhode Island architect John Holden Greene was responsible for this unique style of colonial architecture, blending numerous design elements of Victorian and 18th-century aesthetics. Eventually, he was the one to introduce the L-shaped design to homes in Providence—and all throughout the state of Rhode Island, according to Brown University.
South Carolina: Charleston Half-House
South Carolina contains one of the most famous architectural epicenters of America: Charleston. Though the city does have numerous examples of Federal, Revivalist, and Regency-style homes, it’s the Charleston half-houses that have gained the most attention. These were first built during the 18th and 19th centuries, and contained a false front door that led on to the home’s private piazza where the real entrance was hidden.
South Dakota: Gold Rush-era Architecture
During the latter part of the 19th century, South Dakota became one of the many epicenters of the Gold Rush. Especially in Deadwood (pictured above), buildings were made of brick or wood, outfitted with large shutters—anything that could be easily constructed to provide shelter for the people coming in droves to find their own score of gold.
Often surrounded by well-maintained gardens, the bungalow is the most popular form of architecture in Tennessee—bringing comfort and class to the South. From 1910 to 1930, the bungalow became popular in Tennessee for its ability to transform the American dream into a reality, according to the Nashville Metropolitan Historical Commission. The Craftsman-style bungalow was especially popular, with sturdy style that adapted well to any kind of weather.
Texas: Modernist City Houses
Bigger cities in Texas, like Houston and Dallas, quickly adapted to the needs of homeowners by incorporating innovative elements of design from architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and I.M. Pei. These modernist city houses take up less space while catering to the needs of homeowners—finding innovative ways to take up less space while providing more of it.
Utah: Period Revival
Between 1910 and 1955, Utah’s homes saw a revival of old styles like Colonial, Tudor Cottage, English Tudor, and Neoclassical, according to the Utah Heritage Foundation. While these different period revival styles varied from home to home, a plentiful amount of windows and decorative woodwork became the standard—and still dominate the landscape throughout the state.
Virginia: Historic Townhouses
Alexandria is a prime example of Virginia’s historic architecture, mostly drawing inspiration from the Colonial period. Taking place in the 19th and 20th centuries, these townhouses are characterized by flat exteriors containing an odd number of windows. According to Virginia Estates, these Colonial revival homes had both southern and British influences.
Vermont: Rustic Charm
Similar to Colorado and Montana, the state of Vermont is known for its vast array of ski and outdoor recreation lodges. Rustic homes and cabins have been the typical staple of Vermont architecture, often surrounded by lush landscapes.
Washington: Craftsman Homes
In the early part of the 20th century, the American Craftsman home took the state of Washington by storm, according to the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. These homes typically feature a steeply pitched roof, solid oak floors, a tiled fireplace, and decorative timbering.
West Virginia: Stately Red Brick
More than any other state, West Virginia is home to an impressive amount of beautiful red brick Colonial homes, according to Love Property. Containing all of the typical elements of traditional Colonial homes, homes in West Virginia also add their own flair by incorporating red bricks and white accents.
The Victorian is also popular in Wisconsin, with the asymmetrical plans and ornamental details that make this style so famous. The Santa Clara Valley is especially famous for its long list of Victorian properties.
Wyoming: Remote Ranches
Since the 1930s, remote ranches have dominated the Wyoming landscape. With large windows to illuminate the space and give visitors a view of the beautiful surrounding scenery, these remote ranches are the most popular form of architecture in the state. And for more awesome geography lessons from around the country, See If You Can Guess These American Cities Based on Just a Photograph!
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