Victorian Stick Style (1860-1885)
The Famous “Rainbow
House”. A colorful mix of the Queen Anne and “Stick”
Colorful and Unrestrained
- Two to two-and-a-half stories
- Wood construction with boxy projections: bays, wings and towers
· Gabled roof, usually steeply pitched with cross gables
- A grid-work of raised boards called "stick work" overlaying
the clapboarded wall surface
- Bright, contrasting paint colors
- Decorative trusses in gables
- Overhanging eaves, often with exposed rafter ends
- Square pillars (Use this Photo)
"To us, our house was not unsentient matter -- it has a heart
& a soul & eyes to see us…& approvals & solicitudes
& deep sympathies; it was of us, & we were in its confidence."
-- Mark Twain, of his Stick-Style house near Hartford, Connecticut
the most recognized home of the style. This Victorian on Keller
Street is featured in many of Petaluma and Sonoma County’s
visitor’s guides and publications. (Photo by Scott Hess)
As Petaluma was a thriving shipping and banking industry at the
turn of the 20th century, the well to do residents of the day indulged
in this fanciful style, building these whimsical Victorians near
the downtown heart. While not as grand in scale as the Queen Annes
resting on D Street, Petaluma’s fanciful “stick”
variety of Victorians nonetheless hold a special place in its architectural
heritage. The Brewster district along with the neighborhoods bordering
D and 6th streets hold some of Petaluma’s prime examples.
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Historical Information provided by realtor.com
“When the famed Mark Twain fell on hard times and was forced
to rent out his beloved Stick-Style house, it was said he suffered
almost as much as if he had lost a dear friend. Like its owner,
Twain's colorful edifice was anything but restrained. In keeping
with most of the Stick-Style homes of that era, it had a commanding
presence that carried to an extreme the architectural mandate of
that day: "Avoid plain walls at all cost."
Richard Morris Hunt, the French-trained American architect, popularized
the Stick Style. Hunt drew on his knowledge of the current European
fashions of late-medieval rustic country houses, namely the gingerbread
chalets of the Alps and the half-timbered cottages of Normandy,
to design summer houses for his wealthy friends in Newport, Rhode
Island. It wasn't until almost a hundred years later -- in the 1950s
-- that these marvelous houses would be known as the Stick Style,
so named by architectural historian Vincent Scully.
The linear geometric Stick Style was a direct expression of the
reform movement that pushed for honesty in architectural design.
It stressed the use of wood and was built in the half-timbered style,
which left the structure of the building visible from the outside.
Gone were the formality and symmetry of the high-style Victorian
houses; instead, the Stick Style displayed interesting shapes, such
as porches and towers, as well as bright, contrasting paint colors.
Also characteristic of this style were ornamental brackets and bargeboards,
lacy openwork balconies, overhanging eaves, colored shingles and
the purely decorative crisscross timbers, or stickwork.
The Stick Style lived only a short time before it melded into the
Queen Anne Style, eventually becoming known as the Shingle Style.
It was considered one of the few purely American-style houses and
remained popular in resorts, suburbs, and small towns well into
pristine example on D Street. Stylistic intricacies and a-symmetrical
architecture make this home a town favorite.
While not of the “Stick”
Variety, this Petaluma Victorian boasts a beautiful color
scheme typical of the style.
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