Most of San Francisco Victorians can be classified into one of three major styles - Italianate, Stick or Queen Anne. Each style was popular for about 10 years years, so by identifying the style you can roughly guess the building's age. Here's a quick guide:
The Italianates - 1870s
Flat Front Italianates: Early 1870s
You can usually spot the oldest houses in the neighborhood because they are likely to be Flat Front Italianates. Many were originally farmhouses. They often stood alone on a street, sometimes in a pair, but you don't see rows of them, like other Victorian styles. Decoration is minimal and was often done by hand.
|Flat front on Bush Street at Octavia.|
- False front extending above a flat or pitched roof
- Top cornice held up by multiple brackets
- Plain, lapped siding
- Simple window hoods
Slanted Bay Italianates: Later 1870s
- Slanted bay windows
- Tiny Juliet balcony over the front porch
- Classic columns around front door
- Rounded, bulky cornices extending above roof line
The quickest way to spot the San Francisco Stick style is to look for its squared-off bay windows. By the early 1880s, steam powered machinery made mass-produced lumber and decorative mill work available and affordable. Homeowners picked decorative trims out of a catalog and builders often bought fancy millwork in bulk and applied it lavishly make their homes look modern.
- Squared off bay windows
- Straight lines
- Gabled roof
- Repetitive use of small decorative trim
Rows of machine-made geometric elements
decorate this restored Stick in the Castro.
Queen Anne - 1890s
|Restored Queen Anne Tower on Page at Ashbury.|
- Gabled roof
- Decorative shingles
- Rounded or arched windows
- Tower or turret
- Decorative finials or weathervanes
- Stained or leaded glass
- Elaborate 3-D plaster or machine carved decorations
How many Victorians remain?In 1973, Judith Lynch, went on a hunt for Victorian homes in San Francisco. Funded by a grand from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ms. Lynch, who would later help create City Guides, did a painstaking survey of nine San Francisco neighborhoods. By her count, there are more than 13,000 Victorian era structures still standing.
The study of San Francisco Victorian buildings is complicated by the loss of building records in the 1906 Fire, the confusion resulting from the renumbering of many streets afterward, as well as the extensive modifications made to some structures over the years.
|Two Victorians -- one restored, the other stripped .|