As a Realtor and current member of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission, nothing makes me crazier than seeing houses that are marketed incorrectly as Craftsmen. A Craftsman has a distinct architectural style that’s rarely seen with new or newer construction homes. A Craftsman is almost always an older, historic home with hallmark architectural features. With so many intact Craftsman homes in Tacoma, I thought it might be helpful to shed a little light on exactly what makes a house a Craftsman.
The Craftsman was the dominant architectural style for smaller homes built in Tacoma in the early 1900s. The style originated in Southern California but quickly spread to other parts of the country through popular magazines like House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal. Magazine articles were soon followed by a flood of pattern books with plans for Craftsman bungalows, and companies began marketing “kit” houses, which included pre-cut lumber and detailed instructions for assembly by local laborers.
The following characteristics are typical of a Craftsman home, but not every Craftsman home will include all of them.
- Timber framing
- Wood shingled siding and/or horizontal wood siding
- Low pitched, gabled (or sometimes hipped) roofs
- Decorative beams or braces under the gables
- Exposed rafters
- Wide unenclosed eave overhangs
- Triangular knee brace supports
- Shed, gabled or eyebrow dormers
- Wide window and door casings
- Full or partial-width covered porches
- Tapered porch supports
- Sloping (or battered) foundations
Craftsman homes aren’t all identical to one another. In truth, the term Craftsman encompasses a wide and wonderful variety of substyles.
The typical Craftsman cottage is a one story structure with a symmetrical front façade, a centralized main entry, a partial width front porch, horizontal wood siding, a compact rectangular floor plan and a side-gabled, low pitched roof. This is a listing in North Tacoma that we sold a few years ago.
The typical Craftsman bungalow is a one story structure with broad, low pitched gables. A lower gable covers an open or screened front porch, and a larger gable covers the main portion of the house. With larger bungalows, you may see steeper gables and interesting cross gables or dormers. The bungalow is probably the most common and most popular Craftsman style in Tacoma. This is a listing that we sold in North Tacoma a few years back.
Clipped Gable (Hip Roof) Style
The typical clipped gable Craftsman has a gabled roof with the points “clipped off”. The roof can be front, side or cross gabled and may have hipped or eye brow dormers.
The typical colonial style Craftsman features a symmetrical façade with columns and trellised front and/or side porches. This was a really unique listing in Proctor that we sold a few years back.
The typical airplane style Craftsman features a setback second story and wide overhanging eaves, which give the impression of airplane wings.
The typical structure transitioning from Victorian to Craftsman embodies elements of both – including a more vertical façade than later Craftsman homes.
I love older, historic homes. I’ve renovated and sold more than 50 to date, including quite a few Craftsmen. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a historic home, you should consider working with a Realtor who really understands the value of the architecture. Give me a call. I’d be happy to help.
I’ve always had a deep appreciation for historic homes. It’s one of the reasons that I love living and working in Tacoma, with its abundance of intact architecturally significant historic buildings. It’s no accident that Tacoma still has so many incredible old homes. In part, it’s because city leaders recognize and appreciate that historic homes are an important part of Tacoma’s identity AND because the city is committed to protecting and preserving its old homes. In fact, the city’s Historic Preservation Office just won a state-wide award for the outreach programs that they’ve developed to strengthen public understanding of the importance of historic building stock to the fabric of a community. As a City Commissioner on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to support the city’s efforts.
Historic Homes Workshop
There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding landmark preservation and how it can and cannot impact homeowners in Tacoma. This disinformation is due in part to the fact that many real estate brokers aren’t as well versed on the topic as they should be. In an effort to help better educate the brokerage community, I’ll be leading an informational workshop for local real estate brokers on Monday, July 8th in association with Windermere and the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission. We’ll cover the potential benefits that landmark designation can have for homeowners and some of the guidelines that owners of landmarked homes must follow when making external modifications. We’ll also discuss the ways in which historic restoration and adaptive reuse can pave the way for increased investment capital in the community.
If you have any questions about buying or selling a historic home, please give me a call. I’m happy to assist.
For More Information Please Visit: cityoftacoma.org/HPEvents
Waterfront living isn’t unique to the Puget Sound region, but it’s definitely part of what makes working as a Realtor in the area so special. Jeff, Miles and I have listed and sold some really great waterfront properties over the years. They’ve each had features you would expect to find with a waterfront property, but they’ve also had personal histories that have made each house unique – and uniquely personal to us. Here are three of our favorite waterfront sales.
First up is a Raft Island Modern that was rebuilt from the foundation up in 2008 for an artist friend of ours and her husband. The architect for the project was their son, which made owning and living in the house extra special for them. Some of my favorite things about this house are the open volumes of space, the mix of repurposed wood and steel, the huge windows overlooking Henderson Bay, the expansive wrap-around deck and the artist studio up above the house. It’s rare to find this combination of drama, elegance and craftsmanship on the water, which made this home a pleasure to list and sell.
Waterfront homes aren’t just limited to the saltwater shores of the sound. There are also lots of fantastic lakefront homes in the area. A buyer client of ours recently purchased a beautiful, historic home in Lakewood with 130 feet of water frontage on desirable Gravelly Lake. Our client was looking for a home that was big enough to entertain her kids and grandkids, and this house definitely delivered. Features include a spacious gourmet kitchen, a formal dining room, comfortable sitting areas and several decks with views of the lake. This gated property also includes a dock and a two car detached garage with a guest apartment above.
The last home on our waterfront “tour” is a spectacular west-facing property in Poulsbo that we sold to friends of ours a few years back. The house was originally built for a glass artist in 1997, and his handcrafted light fixtures and stained glass windows can be seen throughout. This property embodies the best of the Pacific Northwest lifestyle – sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains, easy access to the water for paddle boarding and kayaking and an abundance of oysters, mussels and crab just waiting to be harvested. We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many a feast over the years at this one of a kind waterfront gem.
There are a lot of things to consider when you’re buying or selling a waterfront home – soil stability and drainage, bulkhead condition, tideland rights and moorage capacity to name just a few. That’s why it’s important to partner with a Realtor who has experience with waterfront homes and a good working knowledge about what makes them unique. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a waterfront home, we’re here to help.
Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere Professional Partners, specializing in residential real estate in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, University Place and Lakewood.
Mark Pinto: (253) 318-0923
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.