There are so many wonderful details in the entrance of this house. A mix of Queen Anne and Tudor, the roof is quite lovely. I imagine at one point the door would have been equally ornate.
During my commute, I’ve watched these row homes grow out of a big hole in the ground. One of these days, I’m going to take pictures in sequence. This particular row has beautiful full height windows on both the second and third floor, and what appears to be a roof deck. From this area, the occupants will have beautiful views of the skyline.
For quite some time, I’ve been meaning to share some of the more beautiful doors I’ve seen on row houses. Sometimes, when your house looks like everyone else’s house, your front door becomes your one chance to be expressive.
This is a very fancy Federal-style door. Note the six panels and semi-circular fan light. However, the surrounding treatment is very ornate, almost like a fireplace mantle. It’s hard to see in the photo because of the sunbeam but the panes in the fanlight are decorative as well.
This is a very ornate example including a leaded glass fanlight. The darkly-stained wooden door is often seen on Victorian era homes in the Italianate style and it is likely this is an upgrade from the original Federal style door. Note the semi-circular fan light.
This is another revival style home, where the style has been updated to something much more elaborate than the original Federal. To the left, you can see a more traditional Federal style. However, this home had clearly been upgraded with a very fancy doorway and gate while retaining the lovely Flemish bond brickwork.
No collection of row house doors would be complete without including this Mondrian-inspired door on a turn-of-the 20th Century corner row house.
I recently noticed that several of our readers are from Japan. I hadn’t really thought too much about Asian row houses and decided to do some research, during which I discovered these lovely historic row houses in Narai-juku Japan, dating from the Edo period (1603-1868).
The great thing about this row is that it’s a “Nationally-designated Architectural Preservation Site” and has been preserved in its original condition. It’s a rather popular tourist destination and has a lovely website although I have no idea what is says. If you speak Japanese and/or know about these beautifully preserved row houses, please comment!
I was out and about today and came across these two row houses. Wood siding is fairly unusual but it’s not impossible to find the rare, well-preserved example. With the bright hibiscus in front, they are both very charming.
Also, an amusing bit of faux as the dentil cornice on the white home is painted. These are Federal row homes that likely date between 1790 to 1830.
You don’t have to face renovation alone. These are a small sample of the associations you can reach out to for assistance with your renovation. If you have an association near you, please let us know and we’ll add them to the list.
- Baltimore City Historic Society
- Athenaeum of Philadelphia
- Historic House Trust – New York City
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- National Parks Service – Technical Preservation Services
- New York Historical Society
- Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
- The Bostonian Society
In a city such as Philadelphia, where row house development is so prevalent and inter-connected with the overall history of urban development, it’s not unusual to see row houses evolve beyond domestic uses. Typically these include boutiques, salons, gift shops, and restaurants, to name a few. However, larger institutions in town also make use of the humble row house, such as this row located on the Peirce College campus.
Peirce College was founded in 1865 to educate those who wished to take advantage of growing business opportunities after the Civil War. Originally, the college was located on Chestnut street but in 1915 it moved to the present location on Pine Street, which is where these row houses are located. It’s wonderful that these are in very good shape with their original exterior design maintained, even including the use of shutters.
Peirce is not the only institution of higher learning that has row houses in use on campus. New York University makes use of Washington Mews for department offices as well.
Sometimes we discover things quite randomly here at The Urban Rowhouse. One of our new-found favorite places for inspiration is Pinterest. If you haven’t seen our RowHouse Magazine board, please check it out. Our pins represent both what we’ve written about on this blog as well as row houses we’ve seen on other boards.
Recently, I came across photos from the garden city of Hellerau, now part of Dresden, in Germany. In general, garden cities are a unique type of planned, semi-urban residential development that were conceived by urban planners who thought if you combined the best of what the city had to offer, with the benefits of living in the country, it would pretty much be a nirvana of living. As a result, garden cities are highly conceptually planned districts, that are typically very beautiful and very well thought out.
In the best plans, there is typically a variety of homes represented to cater to several income levels so that laborers could live along with the managers and owners, conveniently within close distance to the workshops and factories. As a result, many garden cities, including Hellerau and Forest Hills Gardens in Queens, New York, have row houses.
The concept of garden cities was conceived by English social theorist Ebenezer Howard who, after seeing cities ravaged by the Industrial Revolution, thought there was a better way for people to live; more in harmony with each other, their environment, and their livelihood. In his book, “Garden Cities of To-morrow” (1902 – read it here), he presented an idea for planned communities in balance with enterprise, the environment, and society.
Howard’s work inspired German master carpenter and entrepreneur Karl Schmidt-Hellerau, who happened to need a place to house his growing workforce. Row houses were part of the original four-part concept for Schmidt-Hellerau’s garden city, which also included detached homes, workshops, and community buildings. To design the homes and layout of the community, he enlisted the assistance of several well-known architects of the day, Richard Riemerschmid, Heinrich Tessenow, Hermann Muthesius. (Source: http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_image.cfm?image_id=2154)
Most of the row homes in the area are intact. They are predominantly light-colored stucco with cheerful red roofs and often shutters surrounding the windows. The overall design is clean and works well with the established domestic architecture of the time as well as still looking relevant today. I tried to find an approximate idea of what a row house in Hellerau would cost but there doesn’t seem to be any currently on the market.
To learn more about the garden city of Hellerau, please visit the following websites:
Type of Row House Architecture: Dutch Colonial Revival
Years Popular: 1880-1940
- Pointed, stepped facade
- Gabled roof
- Brick or stone masonry construction, often mixed
- Windows with small panes, some being grouped together
- Predominantly located in New England and Mid-Atlantic cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia
Examples of Dutch Colonial Revival Row Houses:
For context, here is one of the oldest row houses in Amsterdam. This style of row house is more than 500 years old. When the New World, specifically New York, was settled by Dutch colonists, they naturally built homes in the style that was popular in their home country. There is belief that Manhattan was full of Dutch-styled row houses before much of the architecture was destroyed by several fires in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
When it comes to Dutch Revival architecture in row houses, the newer homes look very much like their centuries-old counter-parts in cities like Amsterdam. Here is a rather fancy Dutch Revival row house in Philadelphia. Notice the stepped front gable and groups of windows on the second floor.
Below, is another Dutch Revival row house in Philadelphia, with a closer focus on the first floor windows; typical of the Dutch style. The door of this, and its neighbor, house is also Dutch in style and have a top and bottom that open independently.
This style of home is a little more prevalent in detached home architecture but I will be on the look-out for more examples.
A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of a rather interesting row of homes that were angled instead of facing the street head-on. This isn’t the typical type of row people think of but if you’ve got angled streets, this is exactly what sort of row houses you’ll see since it allows for rectangular homes within the plots.
The stepped appearance of the row somewhat resembles the edges of a fan so when I was introduced to the Fan District in Richmond, Virginia by our Facebook follower Jeremie B., I thought it was very fitting that the neighborhood moniker fit the appearance of the elevations of the row houses. He provided the photos for this post (thank you!) to show some of these beautiful homes.
The Fan District, or simply “The Fan,” is situated in the West End section of Richmond. The border to the north is Broad Street and to the south, VA 195. Notable areas of interest within the neighborhood include Monument Avenue and VCU’s Monroe Park Campus. The area is predominantly residential and is a protected national historic district.
The Fan is known for its Victorian homes, and is considered to be the most intact Victorian row house neighborhood in the United States. However, The Fan has homes that represent a much wider variety of styles from the late 19th to early 20th Centuries, including:
- Queen Anne
- Colonial Revival
- Tudor Revival
- Second Empire
- Art Deco
- Gothic Revival
- American Arts and Crafts Movement
- James River Georgian
- Southern Colonial
- Jacobethan (Jacobean Revival)
With so many options, there is something for everyone! As the photos show, The Fan offers one beautiful row house after another. If you happen to have a row house in any of those styles, you can get some great ideas for color and style from these shown here.
I was immediately enchanted by the prevalence of porches and front yards which create a garden oasis feel; very elegant and beautiful. However, the homes are also very true to their row house roots; mostly brick, and mostly uniform and consistent.
Historic row houses in The Fan can be somewhat pricey; $500K and upwards on average, for an entire house. Generally, the homes are very well maintained, historically certified, offer mature gardens, and have more than 2,000 square feet of living space. Here is an example of a current home for sale that is similar to those in our photos. There are a few smaller homes that are naturally less expensive and, if you don’t mind sharing your row house, some of the larger homes have been divided into apartments.
The local schools include Fox Elementary School, Binford Jr. High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School. To learn more about The Fan, please visit The Fan District Association website.