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April 11th, 2007 Adrian Chen | Special Section Stories
 

HABITAT: I'm Buying a What?

A field guide to Portland's vintage architecture.

     
Tags:
Craftsman
IMAGE: Erik Blad
You've seen these phrases blaring from real-estate listings: "BEAUTIFUL CRAFTSMAN BUNGALOW!" "OLD PORTLAND!" "COZY CAPE COD!" These, supposedly, are the classics: oldies and goodies. But how old, and how good? To help you sort through the jargon, here's a guide to five of the most common vintage housing styles touted by Portland sellers. These are the accepted definitions, but keep in mind that listings often play fast and loose with terms when trying to attract potential buyers:

ARTS AND CRAFTS
Period:
1900s-1940s
Common features: Asymmetrical floor plan. Second floor cantilevered over the first. Stucco or brick finish. Simple exteriors. Detailed interior woodwork.
The facts: The Arts and Crafts style is named after the English Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800s, characterized by an attention to detail, holistic design approach and a focus on high-quality building materials. Wade Pipes, an English-trained American architect, greatly influenced the growth of the Arts and Crafts style in Portland. Notably, Pipes applied the Arts and Crafts ethos to affordable houses as well as homes built for Portland's elite.

CAPE COD
Period:
1930s-1950s
Common features: Compact. Symmetrical. Shingled exterior. Steep roof.
The facts: Found in large numbers throughout the United States, the Cape Cod is based on the practical, efficient designs of 17th- and 18th-century New England cottages. Fueled by the need for inexpensive housing, the Cape Cod style experienced its heyday during the Great Depression and the post-World War II period, becoming a staple in both cities and the suburbs.

CRAFTSMAN
Period:
1900s-1920s
Common features: Steep roof with projecting eaves and decorative braces. Large, wraparound porch. Shingled siding. Built-in cabinetry. Square, solid-looking construction. Often a bungalow.
The facts: Sometimes used interchangeably with Arts and Crafts, the Craftsman style is a related yet distinctly American school of architecture. With its decorous roofs and solid looks, the Craftsman style drew on a number of influences, including Japanese teahouses and Swiss chalets. Both the Bungalow and the Portland Foursquare styles draw on the Craftsman design. Beware: The "Craftsman" label is sometimes applied to newer houses as a fancied-up euphemism for "well-built."

BUNGALOW
Period:
1900s-1920s
Common features: Large porch with massive columns. Low-pitched roof with projecting eaves and visible support brackets. Shingled siding. Squat appearance.
The facts: The inspiration for the Bungalow came from Indian architecture via the British Empire in the 1880s. (The word itself comes from the Hindustani word for a rest house for travelers.) This style was popularized in the United States as part of the Craftsman movement, though many bungalows feature Arts and Crafts characteristics as well. These days, the bungalow is a hot item, and a quick browse through the listings finds real-estate agents slapping the label on any house that's small.

OLD PORTLAND / PORTLAND FOURSQUARE
Period:
1890s-1920s
Common features: Characteristic boxlike design. Simple exterior. Low, pyramidal roof. Wide, covered porch.
The facts: Countless houses are listed as Old Portland or Portland Foursquare. They're two names for the same thing: Portland's examples of the American Foursquare genre. The Foursquare draws from elements of the Craftsman style as well as the Prairie style, which originated in the Midwest in the late 19th century. In North and Northeast Portland, Foursquares abound.


HABITAT: Table of Contents
The Plunge
Become Donald Trump in One Day!
A Renter's Survival Guide
I'm Buying a What?
Way of the Ninja
Guns for Hire
Cracking the Code
What the Hell Does $250K Buy, Anyway?
The Final Frontier
Sweat Equity?
Armed & Dangerous
 
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