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Stick Style / Eastlake (1870 - 1880)

The popularity of the Gothic Revival, in the early 1800's, led to the Stick Style later in the century.  A concept of "structural honesty" had begun to inform philosophies of architecture in the 1860's and '70s, leading finally to the Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris and his followers in England, and the Craftsman movement in America.  But the Stick Style spawned in the interim was anything but honest.

Stick Style buildings are commonly characterized by tall, stern proportions, steep roofs and broad eaves supported on massive brackets.  Stick Style is characterized in the main, however, by the use of the wall surface itself as a decorative element.  A variety of stylistic facings are used to suggest, if only symbolically, the structure beneath.  Large trim members and diagonal clapboard bracing represent the half-timber construction although the structure beneath is, in actuality a ballon-frame (or light-wood frame) construction.

Stick Style is not an architectural concept, so much as a decorative one, and Stick Style elements can be found on Queen Anne and Italianate structures, as can elements of the design concepts of Charles Eastlake.

The porch of the Stick Style house illustrated here is a typical Eastlake extravaganza.  Eastlake styling created an inexpensive and fanciful beauty attained a popularity not possible for the stern stuff of the Stick Style; and, Eastlake frets, friezes, fans, brackets and lattices became the ubiquitous American exterior decor, gracing cottages, villas and Queen Anne castles alike.  As well, the sturdy balustraded Eastlake front porch became the hallmark of the comfortable American residence.  Thank heaven for the jigsaw.

[from A Field Guide to the Architecture and History of Allentown, pages 44-45]

Learn more at Buffalo Architecture and History.