National Heritage Area

(814) 677-3152

217 Elm Street

Oil City, PA 16301-1412

Queen Anne

In the 1870's, Americans took notice of the use of expensive terra-cotta tiles and the half timbered and stucco walls being employed by English architects when designing the new manor houses for very wealthy English clients. No longer interested in the Italian Renaissance look, English architects led by Richard Norman Shaw created new designs which were reflections of old Tudor styles from the 17th century. In keeping with old English building practice, the upper floors were often cantilevered out beyond the first floor walls. Ceramic tile, brick and decorative wall panels were commonly used by Shaw and his contemporaries to finish these new designs. Tall, elaborately executed chimneys were a common element of this English style. The English press mistakenly referred to this work by Shaw and others as Queen Anne. Americans were infatuated with this look and sought ways to incorporate elements of the English Queen Anne into their own vernacular buildings.

To do so, American designers and builders adapted the style details of the English Queen Anne to the basic American Stick. By the early 1880's, American Sticks were being finished with wood shingles in the gable ends and around the belt line of the first and second floors. The use of wood shingles was America’s way of copying the far more expensive terra cotta tiles applied to the new English manor houses. Half timbering was applied to the gable ends of the American Stick, clearly mimicking the English practice.

Some classical details continued to be used sparingly by Shaw and the English. Classical detailing was also incorporated in American Queen Anne designs reflecting a renewed interest in America’s Colonial past. This new interest in classicism in America was reflected by the practice of giving the old Stick frame classical cornices at the eaves, closed pediments at the gables, and wood panels with classical motifs like sunbursts, acanthus leaves and such.
The American Queen Anne was now and then given a tower at a prominent corner. This tower was usually, not always, round. The prominent round corner tower may have actually been more a French provincial castle influence than something borrowed from the English.
Taken as a whole, these various design influences served to give the old Stick style a new nature by breaking up the continuous plane of the flat wall and giving that wall surface a textured skin. In doing so, the old American Stick became the new American Queen Anne.
The house at 123 W. Second Street in Oil City was built about 1872.

Emanuel Wolfe, a dentist, bought this house in 1881. He had the structure remodeled in 1887 to the way you see it today. The wall surfaces display considerable horizontal and vertical stickwork. Note the belt of wood shingles about a good part of the house between the first and second floors. Though the third floor gables are not cantilevered, the impression they might be is created by enclosing each of the gables with a cornice. The gable wall surfaces are covered with wood shingles. Half timbering in the Reed Street gable facade suggests medieval English architecture. The dramatic earth tone shades used to paint this house are historically accurate for the 1880's.

The house at 318 W. Main in Titusville displays all the complexity in massing and irregularity of plan associated with the well developed American vernacular Queen Anne.

A busy arrangement of gables and window bays are cantilevered out beyond the wall planes of the main volume. Bracketed cornices transform the gable forms to pediments. A decorative belt of wood shingles divides the first and second floor. Another belt of wood shingles wraps around the tower. The gable wall surfaces, too, are covered with shingles. A decorative wood panel on the second floor tower wall is an American representation of the decorative plaster panels used by English architects. Classical influences can be seen in the sunburst motif over the first floor bay, again in the similar fan shaped light in the left gable facing W. Main, and in the full width classical veranda. The house was built by a druggist, Theodore Reuting, about 1894. The yellow and white paint, a Colonial Revival color scheme, is appropriate for the time.

Sheffield in the latter nineteenth century was the location of a well developed tanning industry. One tanner, George Horton, did particularly well and built a very large Queen Anne in 1889.

Reportedly, this house was designed by a Chicago architect who had built a house in Chicago much like this Horton House. On a visit to Chicago, George saw the house and wanted one just like it. The result is this very large two story with a two story attic. The asymmetrical, irregular massing of this house is dominated by two story gabled dormers and a corner tower. The dormer over the front facade is noticeably cantilevered. The huge dormers are faced with half timbering and feature horizontal banks of windows, a very medieval English look. Even courses of rough cut field stone cover the first floor walls and wood shingles cover the upper stories. The choice of materials reflects the influence of the contemporaneous Shingle architecture, but the massing, plan and decorative detail of this house is all Queen Anne. Poor George didn’t get to enjoy this house for very long; he passed away in 1893 at the age of forty-five.
The Kahle brothers were very successful oil producers and brokers in Oil City with oil interests in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas. One of them, J. W. Kahle, Jr., built a Queen Anne in 1895 at 118 Moran Street.

The asymmetrical, complex massing and irregular plan of this house with its hip roof, dormers and tower are clearly Queen Anne. In addition to showing ample horizontal and vertical stickwork, the walls are partly covered with belts of wood shingles and bullseye wood panels representative of terra-cotta decoration used by the English manor architects. Turned posts and spindles reflecting the advances in wood working technology of the time are commonly seen on this house.

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