One of the most recognizably American styles of architecture is Victorian, which became popular around the late 19th century. However, this style is in fact British, having been named after the Victorian Era, which refers to the reign of British Queen Victoria who ruled from 1837-1901. This style, nonetheless became very popular in America, especially in cities that grew up during the Industrial Revolution, like San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Chicago.
The style incorporates an eclectic amalgamation of overseas influences including Asian styles, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne. The one most outstanding characteristic of Victorian architecture and decor is the very ornate and geometric details of the buildings. As the Industrial Age progressed, the homes during the Victorian era became more and more intricate and ornate with the help of machine-cut decorating. Every detail of the homes looked very complex and uniform. Victorian architecture became one of the first styles that became accessible to not only the very rich. Machine-made mass-produced Victorian-looking items were sold in catalogues and priced so that the middle-class, and even lower-classes, could decorate their houses to look Victorian.
The idea of Victorian architecture and decor then was to have a house built for beauty; architects then were less interested in practicality or function. The combination of different architectural styles with a large Gothic influence created a unique style of home that was never seen before. Some recognizable features of Victorian era architecture were a complex shape that included many wings and towers, scalloped shingles or other textured wall surfaces on the outside of the house, and vibrant colors that covered the entire exterior of homes.
On the inside, Victorian homes often were made of crafted wood and included a lot of decorative trim. Mixing different pattern wallpapers and richly colored patterned rugs was popular, and so were big, ornate wood staircases, which all contributed to the homes’ eerie, Gothic feel. These decorations oftentimes gave the interior a cluttered, gaudy, and over-decorated look. However, as America moved into the 20th century, the machine-produced, showy, and confused Victorian style gave way to the more simple and streamlined Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Craftsman styles.