Ridge Ave Roxborough Historic District

Queen Anne Architecture


The Queen Anne style was the  dominant style of domestic building in the United States from about 1880  to 1900; and persisted with decreasing popularity through the first  decade of the twentieth century. The style was named and popularized by a  group of nineteenth-century English architects led by Richard Norman  Shaw. The name is rather inappropriate, for the historical precedents  used by Shaw and his followers had little to do with Queen Anne or the  formal Renaissance architecture that was dominant during her reign  between 1702 and 1714. Instead, they borrowed heavily from late medieval  models of the preceding Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. The  half-timbered Watts-Sherman House built in Newport Rhode Island in 1874  is generally considered to be the first American example of the style. A  few high-style examples followed in the 1870s and, by the 1880s, the  style was being spread throughout the country by pattern books and one  of the first architectural magazines, The American Architect and  Building News. Large-scale manufacture of pre-cut architectural details  and the expanding railroad network by which they were shipped aided in  the growth and popularization of the style. 108

Queen Anne buildings are  generally comprised of multiple, intersecting volumes, resulting in more  complex forms than their predecessors. These asymmetrical, complex  forms are created by combining various volumes including cross gables,  engaged towers and turrets, steeply pitched roofs with irregular shapes,  and bay windows. Queen Anne buildings often include decorative brick or  stonework, ornate gable detailing, shaped slate or wood shingle  patterning, large porches with complex woodwork, multi-paned windows  with clear and colored glass.

The twin buildings at 6222 and  6224 Ridge Avenue, which date to about 1885, are excellent examples of  the Queen Anne style as applied to semidetached buildings and have some  detailing that might be better classified as the Stick style, a variant  or close relative to Queen Anne (Figure 37). The three-story buildings  are stone at the first floor, and fish-scale shingles at the second  floor and mansard. The shingles create a vibrant pattern of light and  shadow. The dormers in the mansard have highly unusual hoods or crowns  supported by large brackets. The cornice is also supported by brackets  and features fish scales. The second-floor windows are double hungs with  small and large panes in the upper sash. The porch has turned posts  with arched latticework panels between them. Other buildings in the  saw-tooth row of twins also have Queen Anne features, but none  characterize the Queen Anne style with the exuberance of those at 6222  and 6224 Ridge Avenue.

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The house at 5535 Ridge Avenue, with its corner turret topped by a  conical cap and finial, is another good example of the Queen Anne style.  In addition to the turret, the mansard roof, bracketed dormers, and  wrap-around porch all characterize the style. The house at 6904 Ridge  Avenue is likewise an example of the Queen Anne style, owing to its  turret, oversized dormer, and wrap-around porch.


This information has been posted by RMWHS with the permission of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

108 Drawn from Virginia & Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), p. 262-268.