Michigan City Public Library
Sand dune
100 E. 4th Street, Michigan City, IN 46360, phone 219 - 873 - 3044 fax 219 - 873 - 3067

      Portable LaPorte County - Architectural Styles


Architectural History
Frank Lloyd Wright
Greek Revival
High Victorian Italianate
Queen Anne or Neo-Jacobean

Architectural History

Structures are more than frames of wood or brick. They are monuments to the beliefs and opinions of their builders. The homes, churches, schools and businesses reflect the social standing, the values, and the hopes of the people; they represent the transformation of prairie, forests and sand dunes into farm sites and commercial centers.   

Greek Revival (1830-1860)

Buildings should be very plain with classical details. They should also be symmetrical with good proportions in the placing and scale of windows and doors. The area immediately below the eaves, called the entablature, should be flat, making a visual connection between the walls and the roof. Columns are also used, either as the supports of a projecting porch called a portico, or as flat columns on the corners of the building. Such columns are called pilasters. Many houses in the area around Rolling Prairie are of this style.   

Italianate (1850-1890)

Houses in this style are very common across the Midwest, built during a period of rapid growth. The most easily recognizable feature is the use of decorative brackets under the projecting eaves. Roofs are low and were not meant to be seen. The buildings are usually two story and were meant to give a vertical feeling to the viewer. Windows are usually round arched but can also be flat or segmentally arched. Most of the ltalianate buildings found here are of reddish brick with the porch, eaves and brackets painted white.   

Gothic (1850-1890)

Buildings in this style should be very vertical in feeling with steep roofs, tall, narrow or pointed windows and vertical siding. The eaves and porches were decorated with elaborate woodwork cut by jigsaw and commonly called "gingerbread". Apparently the Gothic style was not very popular in LaPorte County because few buildings in this style can be found, though often various Gothic elements are included in houses of other styles.  

Eclectic (1850-1900)

A catchall name for buildings which show elements of many styles, or have no particular style.

High Victorian Italianate (1850-1900)

This style is used exclusively for commercial buildings. It is related to the earlier ltalianate style because the eaves are decorated by brackets. Often, because of innovations in building construction, these brackets and pediments are made of cast iron or tin. Other details, windows, etc., are the same as the earlier Italianate style.   

Queen Anne or Neo-Jacobean (1870-1900)

A very popular style, usually called Victorian. Houses are large, with two or more stories. The idea was to create a lively, restless feeling through the use of projecting rooms and bays, different wall treatments (brick, stone, and decorative wooden shingles all used in the same design) and a complex roof outline with many gables, dormers and chimneys. This type of architecture was made possible by the use of "balloon frame" construction, cheap wire nails and lumber of standardized sizes. Balloon frame construction meant that the ceilings of a building were no longer supported by the walls, but with two-by-four frames. This freed architects to design imaginative buildings. Neo-Jacobean houses are usually found in towns rather than in the country.   

Romanesque (1880-1900)

The inspiration for this style came from French buildings (abbeys, castles, etc.) of the Middle Ages. The style is often called the Richardsonian Romanesque for the architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who made the style popular. Buildings are usually of stone, roughly hewn and called rusticated. Bold, simple shapes and round arches are the main architectural elements. Decorative details are usually small, hidden and floral in inspiration. In LaPorte County, Trinity Episcopal Church in Michigan City and the LaPorte County Courthouse are the best examples of this handsome style. Family mausoleums and tombstones were often done in Romanesque style during this period.   

Frank Lloyd Wright (1900-1960)

Characterized by the complementing of a building design to the site, buildings in this style are also noted for their absence of classical or historical details. Most buildings are low and horizontal in feeling with groups of windows at the corners. There are several homes designed by John Lloyd Wright in Long Beach, including the Long Beach Grade School.