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Italianate Villa with Belvedere

An Italianate villa with a rooftop belvedere and matching attached carriage house.

The Italianate and Gothic Revival styles introduced romantic asymmetrical silhouettes to American homes, with towers, porches, bay windows, and other elements that broke up the simple rectangular box of earlier houses. But the Italianate style also appeared in restrained cubical form, as in this Hallowell, Maine villa with a hipped roof on a symmetrical cubical block topped with a cubical belvedere.

The Italianate style got a toehold before the Civil War, popularized in part by its use for Queen Victoria’s summer retreat Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. It really took off after the war, with examples of the style appearing in all parts of the United States.

Understanding the style, or styles, of a house will help you identify which features are character-defining so you can prioritize their preservation.

Italianate is one of 25 styles described and illustrated with character-defining features keyed to dozens of color photos in Chapter 2 of “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners.”

Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available directly from the author in our shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.

The classic volume on identifying historic house styles, “A Field Guide to American Houses” by Virginia McAlester, is available in our shop, along with select restoration and preservation titles by other authors.

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