An American Foursquare is a cube-shaped structure with two, full storeys and an attic that was made livable by large dormers. It has a hipped roof or steep pyramidal roof. They often have wide porches that extend the full width of the house with the entry to the house being at the center or to one side. They have large windows to allow ample light and airflow into the home. Many are Prairie or Colonial in style but they are known for their simple style.
Inside the Foursquare built-ins like bookcases and window seats were popular along with hardwood flooring and wainscoting with a focus on the hearth. Decorating a Foursquare traditionally is done with machine-printed wallpaper, Prairie or Craftsman-styled furniture. Mission oak furniture and mica lamps were common after 1915 lush Jazz Age rooms came along.
The floor plan would be as follows:
1st floor – front to back and on one side of the house the living room and dining room. On the other side, the foyer, stairway and kitchen.
2nd floor – front to back and on one side, bedroom, bathroom and bedroom, on the other side, bedroom, stairway, bedroom.
Top floor or attic – a big open space with one to four dormers.
There are basically 3 styles of American Foursquare:
Artistic (1900-1915) – boxed posts, exposed rafters, homes often called Bungalow style
Prairie (late 19th and early 20th century) – Porch with a flat, slab roof; geometric, Prairie art glass similar to Frank Lloyd Wright’s style of glass; horizontal lines; broad, overhanging eaves
Classic (1890-1940) – After 1915 referred to as Colonial Revival, often having an oval window centered in the front
So the next time you are walking or driving through town, see how many American Foursquare homes you can find. I bet you’ll notice quite a few. Perhaps your home is one.