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Home and Lifestyle

Architectural digest

An encyclopedia of distinctive home design

Kane County Magazine

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A walk around town becomes more interesting when you learn to identify distinctive architectural features. From Craftsman to mid-century modern, here is an encyclopedic rundown of the prominent features associated with the various architectural styles that you may encounter in Kane County (and beyond).

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Art Deco (1920-1940)
Art Deco buildings have stucco or smooth walls, rounded corners and are often decorated with geometric designs such as zigzags or stylized flowers or leaves. Windows and doors may have decorative frames; the building fašade may have small towers or projections along the roofline. The roof is low or flat. More often used for public buildings or businesses, Art Deco homes are rare in the Midwest, though more common in Florida.
Example – The Campana Factory, Batavia

Cape Cod (1920-present)
This simple, symmetrical flat-fronted style originated in England in the 1600s and was brought to North America by early New England settlers. Cape Cod homes have a steeply pitched roof, dormers, shutters and a small cupula, or dome-like cap, to cover the front door and steps. The modern Cape Cod was introduced in the 1920s by Boston architect Royal Barry Willis and, during the post-World War II housing boom, it became one of America’s most popular housing styles.
Example – Residence, 1400th block of S. 5th St., St. Charles

Craftsman (1905-1930)
Two California brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, designed bungalows in the Pasadena area, before simplified versions were replicated in pattern books and kit homes, including many sold by Sears. Craftsman homes have a low-pitched roof with wide overhangs, decorative beams, and porches with square or angled columns to support the roof. Exterior walls are usually wood or stucco. Stone is often used as a decorative element for the foundation and chimney.
Example – Residence, 500th block of Jackson Ave., St. Charles

Mid-Century Modern (1945-1980)
An updated take on Prairie style, mid-century modern design also incorporates a wide, low-pitched roof, and clean lines. Wide windows, extensive use of glass, including glass brick accent walls, and stone and metal accents to incorporate the natural elements. Simplified versions of mid-century modern architecture are the classic ranch and split level homes built during the suburban boom of the 1970s.
Example – Residence, River Grange Road, St. Charles.

Prairie (1900-1920) υ
Prairie style design was developed by a group of Chicago architects that included Frank Lloyd Wright. There are numerous examples throughout the Midwest. Characteristics of Prairie style homes are a wide, low-pitched roof, porches, wood trim, wide flat chimneys, window boxes or urn planters.
Example – The Ravine House, Batavia

Queen Ann Victorian (1880-1910)
Characteristics include a steep roof with irregular shapes, including towers, textured shingle siding, bay windows and wide porches that extend across the width of the house. Queen Ann Victorian homes are often large with two full stories and an attic. Popularized by British architect Richard Norman Shaw, these homes are found nationwide.
Example – The Wing Mansion, Elgin

Tudor (1890-1940)
Tudor homes come from an old English style known for having a steeply pitched roof, exterior chimneys, and arched doors and windows. Siding could be wood or stucco, with heavy dark accent beams. Occasionally, these homes have a curved “false thatched” roof. Casement windows are common. Tudor cottages were popular with kit home companies and many can be found in older Kane County residential neighborhoods.
Example – Residence, 100th block of S. 11th St., St. Charles

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