Local Residential Styles

The Vernacular Style pre-1785 to 1825

The vernacular in architecture makes use of local forms and materials, clings to familiar building structures from old lands and responds to climatic conditions in the new; it is often representative of the need for effective shelter rather than the expression of any particular "style". The arrival of the Loyalists in Fredericton saw the first homes built as functional objects - doors and windows are placed where they are needed rather than being decoratively enhanced, the plan is rudimentary, eaves and trim are minimal, and the material is exclusively wood (being readily available and plentiful). The source of much of the earliest housing stock in Fredericton derives from Massachusetts houses of the early 18th century, a type familiar to the new settlers.

The Georgian Style c. 1790-1830

Georgian houses display a composed, cultured order that is both sturdy and secure. Usually 2 ½ stories, these well-proportioned buildings follow a tradition started under Georges I, II, III & IV who were Britain's Kings during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The houses have low to medium pitched gable or hip roofs with two end chimneys and small, simple dormers (if any). Balanced facades are entirely symmetrical about their middle axis, having 3 or 5 bays and center doors emphasized with semi-elliptical transoms and sidelights. The openings are customarily rectangular, with small-paned single-hung windows.

The Classical Revival Style c. 1830-1860

This style came to Canada from both Britain and the United States as late 18th century archeological discoveries fuelled interest in classical Greece and Rome. The Classical Revival was very popular in Fredericton, although the local examples are of a more reserved nature than in other regions of North America. Here, the common 2 ½ storey houses with their medium-pitched gable roofs have classical elements arranged as "appliqué" on the facades, which are symmetrical except for the main entry doors (usually off to one side) featuring transoms capped with entablatures/pediments supported by pilasters, or open porches supported with columns. Classical details and moldings are used throughout, combined with endboards or pilasters at the building corners, which evoke a temple-like effect.

The Gothic Revival Style c. 1845-1870

The mid-19th century saw this movement flourish which aimed at reviving the spirit and forms of medieval Gothic architecture. These decorative buildings are usually distinguished by finely scaled gingerbread trim, pointed arch openings and sharply pitched gable roofs. The decorative detail often includes intricate bargeboards, lacy verandah structures and window tracery with a gothic trim motif. There are usually finials or drops at the gable peaks and labels over the openings.

The Second Empire Style c. 1870-1885

This style is easily distinguished by its rich sculptural ornamentation and its prominent mansard roof; a roof with two slopes on all four sides named after the 17th century French architect François Mansart. The steeply-sloped lower roof usually incorporates heavily decorated dormer windows and ornate brackets at the junction of the wall and roof, while the upper roof is shallow and sometimes out of view. Individual houses tend to be squarish, sometimes featuring central projecting towers with a mansard roof and wrought iron railing or "cresting" around the top. The frequent use of one and two-storey bay windows tends to make building outlines irregular and varied.

The Queen Anne Revival Style c. 1885-1910

The Queen Anne is a very picturesque style of large multi-storied houses characterized by irregularity - in plan, shape, colour, and texture. The exterior surfaces vary greatly and often exhibit many different types of shingles and siding. A somewhat medieval arrangement of steep hipped roofs, dormers, balconies, chimneys and gables is prevalent, with the frequent use of towers (generally offset) and broad verandahs. By drawing on a variety of architectural forms, the Queen Anne Revival was a liberating reaction to the symmetry of earlier architectural fashion and to the idea of one pure, clearly defined style.

The Beaux-Arts Classical Style c. 1890-1920

Beaux-Arts Classicism is characterized by large and grandiose buildings with an exuberance of detail inspired by Classical Roman and Greek temples. Highlights include projecting facades or porticos with colossal columns often grouped in pairs capped with a pedimented entablature, rich bands of mouldings and pronounced cornices, balustrades, and richly decorated interiors with stained woods, ornamental plasterwork and stained glass. The style's name derived from the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris which was the most highly regarded architecture school in the World at that time and which emphatically encouraged this extravagant approach to design.

The Craftsman (Bungalow) Style c. 1900-1940

The craftsman bungalow is a very North American housing style, but has its spiritual roots in India. Native houses in the province of Bengal were called bangla. British colonists adapted these one-storey thatched-roofed huts to use as summer homes. For their comfortable bangla, the British arranged dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms around central living rooms. This efficient floor plan became the prototype for the early 20th century bungalow, which also owes a debt to the horizontal Prairie houses of Frank Lloyd Wright. Craftsman bungalows are usually one or one and a half stories in height featuring low-pitched roofs, wide eaves with exposed wood rafters, decorative braces, porches with square columns, leaded or stained glass windows, and fine wood paneling on the interior.

Source: John Leroux and Peter Pacey Building Capital: A Guide to Fredericton's Historical Landmarks, Revised Edition, 2006. Fredericton Heritage Trust, Fredericton, New Brunswick.