By Bud Dietrich, AIA
First popularized by the Vanderbilts, Astors, Morgans and their peers, the Shingle style developed in New England in the mid to late 1800s in reaction to the highly ornamented Victorian revival styles. Simple forms and a minimum of ornamentation made the Shingle style America's first "modern" style, suitable for the new suburban home as well as seaside "cottages."
The Shingle style's most telling feature was that it treated the house as one large volume of space that the exterior wrapped around and enclosed. Like a balloon, the Shingle style exterior was all taut and tensioned to hold the interior space in place.
The Shingle style fell out of favor at the turn of the 20th century when the Colonial Revival style came into vogue. It wasn't until the 1980s that the style came back in popularity, having been resurrected by architects in New England. Today, new homes built in the Shingle style can be seen from the Northeast to the Southwest, from the rocky coasts of Maine to the sunny suburbs of Southern California and everywhere in between.
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