The Queen Still Reigns in Architecture

We are starting a new series looking at popular architectural designs. Our first foray into the world of architecture will be the Queen Anne style.  Richard Norman Shaw popularized it in England from 1860 to 1900. A type of Victorian design, this style has nothing to do with Queen Anne who died in 1714, but instead builds on the styles of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.

Watts Sherman HouseH. H. Richardson brought the Queen Anne style to Rhode Island with the Watts-Sherman House in 1975. The British government extended that introduction with many more Queen Anne homes built at the Philadelphia Centennial that same year. The Chicago area got its own monument to Queen Anne in 1891 with the William J. MacDonald House, which still stands in Oak Park. With ornately carved oak woodwork, two fireplaces, original murals and stained glass, the house is currently listed for 1.2 million dollars.

The William J. MacDonald House

The William J. MacDonald House

The Queen Anne style includes a host of eccentric features including elaborate trim, deep colors with unusual textures, towers, dormers, slate shingles, copper finial ornaments, multi-paneled stained-glass windows and large wrap-around porches with columns. Some of the more enduring features are the asymmetrical facades with front-facing gables, often cantilevered beyond the wall below with overhanging eaves, second story balconies, pedimented porches, interesting and patterned textures on the walls and Terra-cottar tiles or wooden shingles.

The interiors boast large tiled entryways, prominent wood staircases and paneled walls, inglenook tiled fireplaces, built-in China cabinets and back staircases with outdoor sitting rooms and smaller back service porches.

As the style grew in popularity, factory-made pre-cut architectural parts traveled around the country, ordered from widely-published pattern books. While not happy about it, even Frank Lloyd Wright, early in his career, included Queen Anne characteristics in his homes. One of his first projects was the Walter Gale house built in 1983 in Oak Park. While there are characteristics of the Queen Anne style outside, the inside departs from it with an open floor plan. Here is a more thorough discussion of Frank Lloyd Wrights’ homes, both Queen Anne and his classic Prairie Style.

Commercial buildings also showcased the Queen Anne style. We have several examples right here in downtown Elmhurst. The G. Weber Building at 110-112 York Street is one of the oldest buildings in our town. It was built for Gottfried Weber in 1906 and retains many of its Queen Anne features including ornate decoration and the turret corners topped with pointed tile roof. Starting as a bakery, this building now houses Tannin’s Wine Bar and Boutique. (Photo courtesy of the Elmhurst Historical Museum.)

270 N walnut 1923

Built in 1923, 270 N Walnut.

By the turn of the century, traditional Queen Anne homes, which were expensive and difficult to maintain, were replaced with homes that had less ornamentation, but certain aspects of the Queen Anne endure to this day. Homes with wrap-around porches, bay windows, gables, turret entryways and steep, multiple roof lines still wear the title Queen Anne. Here is a look at homes labeled Queen Anne in our own neighborhood.



Built in 2000, this house stands at 318 S Fair.

Built in 2000,  318 S Fair.

Built in 1948, 354 Elm Ave.

Built in 1956, 183 N Berteau.

If you are interested in learning more about Queen Anne homes, please click here and here to visit in-depth discussions about this beautiful building style. If you are interested in purchasing a Queen Anne home, please call a LW Reedy Realtor to explore your options. They are always ready to help.


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