The American Craftsman house is considered to be the quintessential American Home. As the first type of house to cater to the burgeoning American middle-class, open floorplans, quality of work and simplicity were valued over the ornamentation of Victorian period houses.
- Low-pitched roof lines, gabled or hipped roof
- Deeply overhanging eaves with exposed rafters or decorative brackets under eaves
- Front porch beneath extension of main roof with tapered, square columns
- Hand-crafted stone or woodwork
- Mixed materials throughout structure
- 4-over-1 or 6-over-1 double-hung windows
The craftsman style began in England with the Arts and Crafts movement. William Morris, among other philosophers, craftsmen and artists, denounced the mass-produced style of the industrial revolution, fearing the use of machinery would not only lead to bad design but a reduction in the worker’s satisfaction at his job. The saying that we know so well from Morris “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” was about Morris’s desire for art and beautifully crafted work to be a part of everyone’s life. The problem with this ideal of craftsmanship was the expense. Handmade furniture, fabrics, tiles and other building materials could only be afforded by the wealthy.
A group of architects and designers in Boston drew on these British ideals, but opened the way for industrial construction methods to make the craftsman style goods more affordable. Gustav Stickley, a mission-style furniture maker, created a magazine called The Craftsman that celebrated the philosophies of the Arts & Crafts movement. Soon after, Craftsman homes would be bought throughout the United States and Canada as kits from mail-order companies like Sears, Montgomery Wards and Aladdin.
American Craftsman homes are a popular choice today for restoration projects. Their emphasis on solid construction and design using quality, natural materials, means that these homes are still standing and have the “good bones” that most home renovators look for. The Craftsman style is even undergoing something of a revival today, counter to the mass production of suburban cookie-cutter houses.
For more information about the Arts and Crafts movement and American Craftsman Houses, I found a few sites to be quite interesting: