October 12, 2017
Architecture 101: Tudor Style
Take a gander around Iowa City, and you’ll see houses of every shape, size, and style. From stately Victorians lining Summit Street to new neighborhoods popping up on the edge of the town, you can find houses dating back to as early as the first half of the 19th century all the way to homes being built today. As time has progressed, styles have come and gone out of fashion, leaving us with a wonderfully eclectic mix of old and new.
Over the next few months, we’ll be highlighting various architectural styles that you can find in Iowa City and the surrounding areas. Last week we kicked off our Architecture 101 series with a blog featuring the Prairie Style. This week we’ll be looking at the picturesque Tudor.
The Tudor architectural style originated in the 19th century and was inspired by early English folk houses and medieval palaces. Most Tudor homes in America were built between 1890–1940. The design lost its allure after World War II, during a time when patriotism was increasing and American styles such as Colonial Revival homes became the new standard.
Identifying Tudor Homes
- Steeply pitched, gabled roofs
- Elaborate chimneys
- Decorative detailing
- Embellished doorways
- Multi-paned windows in groups of two, three, or four
Decorative detailing is quintessential to the Tudor style. Nearly all Tudor homes have some form of embellishment, often including decorative half-timbering, large, elaborate chimneys, and detailed doors and windows. Doorways are typically arched, and both windows and doors feature elaborate trim.
With its endlessly adaptable characteristics, the Tudor style can be seen on houses big and small, often with unique, asymmetrical facades. One of the most notable variations between Tudors is the exterior wall cladding, the largely decorative outermost layer of building material. Tudor homes are well known for their high-quality craftsmanship and durability, and their cladding is no exception. Most commonly found are homes featuring brick, stone, wood, or stucco cladding.
Early on, brick was a popular choice among the more lavish Tudor homes. With time, the material became more widely used among smaller, more modest Tudor cottages. It is common to find homes featuring brick cladding laid in a decorative, elaborate pattern on the first floor and another material—such as stucco or stone—on the second floor.
Tudor homes can also be found with stucco, stone, and wooden cladding. Stucco was often utilized on more modest Tudor homes built before the rise in popularity of brick cladding. While stone is quite popular in the Tudor style, it is rarely found as the main cladding material but rather as a complementary decorative material on chimneys and as a focal point on entryways.
A distinctive characteristic of Tudor style homes is their steeply pitched, gabled roofs. This type of roof is well-suited to the Midwest due to its ability to withstand excessive amounts of rain and snow. The roof is often adorned with small, gabled dormers. While this style of roofing has come to define the style, it didn’t start out this way. When the Tudor design first became popular, most homes channeled late Medieval buildings and featured Renaissance detailing with parapeted gables. With time, this faded away and transitioned into the classic gabled roof design we know and love today.
Local and National Examples
- Pi Beta Phi house, University of Iowa
- Chi Omega house, University of Iowa
- Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI
- Van Sweringen House, Cleveland, OH
Do you know of any Tudor homes in your community? We’d love to see them! Take a picture, and use the hashtag #UAhistorichomes.