Understanding Shingle Architecture
Shingle architecture helped define the look of many of America’s most popular waterfront communities in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Reminiscent of the Queen Anne style, this building form helped residents make the most of lake and ocean real estate with a variety of ornamental features to enhance view, and construction materials that worked well in wet, coastal climates.
As the name suggests, Shingle architecture relies heavily on the use of shingles on roofs and exterior walls. As a result, shingle style homes looked naturally more ornate than most homes, and required less ornamentation. The shingle skin of these homes also provided extra insulation, and kept the homes dryer and warmer during wet winter months. Stone counteractions on many of these homes also helped extend their life span for many generations of residents.
The exterior style of shingle homes was also defined by large, asymmetrical shapes, and generally horizontal profiles. Unpractical on small city properties, the style worked well on large coastal estates – many of the most famous examples of shingle architecture were built on the New England seashore. Shingle style homes tended to rely less on form than their Queen Anne predecessors, although they employed many of the same shapes. Features like gambrel roofing, polygon towers, and multiple eaves helped evoke the Queen Anne style while allowing for progression of the form. Since Shingle architecture is less clearly defined in shape, it’s sometimes more difficult to identify at a glance, except for the telltale shingle roof and siding.
Although Shingle architecture became fairly widespread around the turn of the 20th century under New York architects like William Rutherford Mead, Stanford White, and Charles Follen McKim, the style never attained the same popularity as Queen Anne architecture.
The interior style of Shingle homes was often characterized by the use of natural light. Shingle home floor plans were generally more open, and room to room transitions were often more informal than Queen Ann style homes, primarily because of their larger size. In this way, Shingle homes were often more accommodating to guests and large families.
Home buyers and sellers in the northeast and great lakes region will likely come across the Shingle style at some point, and a basic understanding of the form could prove a great advantage over other investors.