What Makes a House a “Craftsman?”

As a Realtor who comes from Pasadena, California (the birthplace of Craftsman architecture), and a current member of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission, nothing makes me crazier than real estate agents who incorrectly market houses as a Craftsman.  It is our job as Realtors to understand houses!  Craftsman is a distinct historic architectural style, and 95% of the time does not apply to new or newer construction.
 
Since we have tremendous examples of intact Craftsman homes all over Tacoma, I thought I’d explain to you, our astute real estate clients and followers, exactly what defines a Craftsman, and why.  

 

History: The Craftsman was the dominant style for smaller houses built throughout the country during the period from about 1905 until the 1920s. It originated in southern California and most landmark examples of Craftsman houses are concentrated there. The style quickly spread throughout the country via pattern books and popular magazines, but rapidly faded from favor after the mid-1920s.  These residences were given extensive publicity in such magazines as the Western Architect, The Architect, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, Architectural Record, Country Life in America, and Ladies’ Home Journal, thus familiarizing the rest of the nation with the style. As a result, a flood of pattern books appeared, offering plans for Craftsman bungalows; some even offered completely pre-cut packages of lumber and detailing to be assembled by local labor (referred to as “kit” houses). Through these kit houses, the one-story Craftsman house quickly became the most popular and fashionable smaller house in the country.

Character Defining Features:   Although these are considered the most typical character defining features of a Craftsman, not all of these will apply to each Craftsman-style building.

  • Low-Pitched Gabled (or sometimes Hipped Roof)
  • Wide, Unenclosed Eave Overhang
  • Timber Framed
  • Triangular Knee Brace Supports
  • Wood Shingle Siding and/or Wood Horizontal Siding and/or Cut Stone Cladding
  • Wide Window and Door Casings
  • Tapered Porch Supports
  • Low Porch Pedestals usually Supporting Columns
  • Exposed Rafters
  • Decorative (False) Beams or Braces under Gables
  • Shed, Gabled or Eyebrow Dormers
  • Porches, either Full- or Partial-Width
  • Sloping (Battered) Foundation

 

Types of Craftsman:

 

Cottage Style Craftsman – Typically a one-story building with a compact rectangular plan; a centralized main entrance consisting of a partial-width porch and flanked by windows; a symmetrical facade; a side-gabled low-pitched roof; horizontal wood siding; and Craftsman stylistic details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bungalow – The typical bungalow is a one-story house with low pitched broad gables. A lower gable usually covers an open or screened porch and a larger gable covers the main portion of the house. In larger bungalows the gable is steeper, with interesting cross gable or dormers. 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Clipped-Gabled (Hip Roof) Craftsman – A Craftsman building covered by a gabled roof which has had its gable point “clipped off.” The roof can be front, side or cross-gabled. Typically this type of Craftsman is a one-story building. Sometimes the clipped-gabled roof will have gabled, hipped or eyebrow dormers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colonial Craftsman – A Craftsman building which displays Colonial Revival features. Typically, this type of Craftsman has a trellised front and/or side porches, symmetrical façade and columns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aero-plane Craftsman – A Craftsman building with a set-back second-story and wide overhanging eaves which gives the impression of an airplane wings. This style can have a front, side or cross-gabled roof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitional – A building which appears to be “transitioning” from the Victorian-era into the Craftsman-era. Typically, this type of house retains a vertical emphasis on the facade and Victorian-era design elements, but is differentiated by its Craftsman features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Jeff is also a former board member of Historic Tacoma, and currently serves on the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission.  Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.

 

 

 

Posted on May 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One response to “What Makes a House a “Craftsman?””

  1. Scooter Kidwell says:

    I loved the information and pictures you provided. Thank you.

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