New England House Styles

Middle Georgian - Main Street, Wenham, MAHave you ever been driving in your car, and noticed an old house that just appealed to you?  It might have been something about the simplicity of the lines or the balance of the windows and the doorways, or the way the house was set into the landscape. Perhaps there was an interesting cupola or turret or a big sweeping porch.  Maybe it reminded you of a place you lived when you were younger, or a house you saw in a movie.

The houses in New England, especially those that were built before 1900, (First Period, Georgian or Gothic Revival for example) have their roots in classical European architecture. These styles are drawn from ancient civilizations in Britain or Italy or Greece.

After 1900, new house styles in New England were drawn more on styles from the West Coast or elsewhere in the United States (American Four Square, Bungalow or Colonial Revival for example).  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, a new construction style known eventually as “Mid Century Modern”, would take shape as a uniquely American creation.

The House Styles section will show you samples in groups of three of the distinct styles that were crafted in this region.  None of these houses are currently for sale, but are shown as examples.  Some are properties that I have sold during my career, and others are either museum houses or privately owned.  I will show samples of houses in the different architectural periods beginning with the late 1600’s with the First Period houses that gave basic shelter to the first New England settlers (and sometimes their cows and goats), and to the mid 1960’s to the Mid Century Modern houses that were built here.

For purists in architectural history, I apologize in advance for any errors in classification or labeling.  Also, I picked what I thought were good examples of each architectural period.

Better examples may exist here on the North Shore, and I apologize for any omissions.

Go to House Styles now.


  • A Field Guide to American Houses, Virginia & Lee McAlester, Alfred A. Knopf, N.Y. 1986.
  • The Abrams Guide to American House Styles, William Morgan, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., N.Y. 2004.
  • North Shore Boston, Houses of Essex County 1865-1930, Pamela W. Fox, Acanthus Press, New York, 2005.
  • Historic New England, Boston, MA, “Architectural Style Guide” from their website
  • Antique Homes Magazine, Douglas, MA, “Historic Style Guide” from their website