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INFO PAGE
"CRAFTSMAN" HOUSES

The American Craftsman Style, or the American Arts and Crafts Movement, is an American domestic architectural, interior design, and decorative arts style popular from last years of the 19th century through the early years of the 20th century. It has its origins in the earlier British Arts and Crafts movement which dates back to the 1860s, and which was inspired by the writings of John Ruskin. As a design movement, its popularity remained strong until the 1930s, although in the decorative arts it continues to experience numerous revivals until the present day.

The style incorporated locally handcrafted wood, glass, and metal work that is both simple and elegant. A reaction to Victorian opulence and the increasingly common mass-produced housing elements, the style incorporated clean lines, sturdy structure, and natural materials. The name comes from a popular magazine published in the early 1900s by furniture maker Gustav Stickley called The Craftsman, which featured original house and furniture designs by Harvey Ellis, the Greene brothers (two California brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Green, began to design houses that combined Arts and Crafts ideas with a fascination for the simple wooden architecture of China and Japan), and others. The designs, while influenced by the ideals of the British movement, found inspiration in specifically American antecedents such as Shaker furniture and the Mission style. Emphasis on the originality of the artist/craftsman led to the new design concepts of the Art Deco movement of the 1930s.

Architectural Development

Several developments in the American domestic architecture of the period are traceable not only to changes in taste and style, but also to the shift from the upper- to middle-class patronage.

The middle-class housewife of the era would not have domestic servants (at least not live-in ones) and would be doing much if not all of the housework herself, as well as watch the children. These added roles made it important that the kitchen be integrated into the main house with easy sight lines to the common areas of the main floor (the dining and living rooms) as well as to the back yard. Commonly, the butler's pantry of the Victorian Era was replaced with dining room cabinetry that often consisted of "built-ins", which gave home designers the opportunity to incorporate wood and glass craftsmanship into the public aspects of the home.

Another common design development arising from the class-shift of the time was the built-in "breakfast nook" in the kitchen. The Victorian kitchen of the previous era was separated from the family view and daily routine. It typically had a work table (having the equivalent purpose of the modern countertop) at which the servants would eat after the family meal was served and the kitchen tidied. The Victorian kitchen had no "proper" place for a family member to sit, eat, or do anything else. Again, as the housewife of the Craftsman era was now preparing the family meals, the Victorian kitchen gave way to one designed as the heart of the family's daily life. The breakfast nook often placed under a window or in its own bay provided a place for the family to gather at any time of the day or evening, particularly while food was being prepared.

Common architectural design features

  • Low-pitched roof lines, gabled or hipped roof;

  • Deeply overhanging eaves;

  • Exposed rafters or decorative brackets under eaves;

  •  Front porch beneath extension of main roof;

  • Tapered, square columns supporting roof;

  • 4-over-1 or 6-over-1 double-hung windows;

  • Hand-crafted stone or woodwork;

  • Mixed materials throughout structure;

Information on this page was taken from the Wikipedia article on 'American Craftsman', and About.com. West 23rd Street Development is not responsible for the accuracy of the provided information.
External links (as of March 2007)

http://architecture.about.com/od/periodsstyles/ig/House-Styles/arts-crafts007.--2w.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Craftsman

 

 

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Last updated September 18, 2008

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