A Brief History of Storybook Style (Continued)

In neighborhoods of the 1920’s, it is not unusual to see Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, Stock-broker Tudor mixed with Bungalows, Modern homes and stock plans – and, occasionally a Storybook style home. Where did the Storybook Style home come from? The answer probably goes back to 18th century England.

The Picturesque school of design arose in mid 18th century England as an extension of the Arts and Crafts movement, with the ideal of creating naturalistic designs reflective of nature itself, as a counterpoint to the rigid and disciplined styles of architecture prevalent at the time (such as Romantic Classicism). Reproduction castles, eccentric remodels of farmhouses, cottage communities incorporating vernacular elements appeared on the scene. Even the cottage of Marie Antoinette was constructed in a mock-medieval French hameau for her amusement.

The 1876 Centennial Exhibition in the United States helped to fuel an interest in American colonial and British architecture of an earlier time. At the end of the 19th Century, the common architecture styles practiced in the U.S. were Italianate, Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne, Classical and Colonial Revival and Vernacular Victorian. But the dawn of the 20th Century promised the American family with a new style of living. With it brought a desire to reflect a new modern technology withing the design of the residence – the Modern style.

There was, though, a nostalgia for the pre-machine age that revived the decorative arts and crafts traditions precipitating the Prairie style, Bungalow, and Period Revivals. The motion picture screen, with exotic location and period films added to the desire for architecture real and imagined. At it’s height, Storybook Style was greatly influenced by Hollywood and many of it’s best examples are located in California, having been designed and built by the craftsman associated with the film industry. The economic crash of the Great Depression brought an end to the extra cash and fanciful architecture, and Storybook Style quickly waned.

It is our intent, along with many others who share our passion for this style of architecture, to rejuvenate and popularize this style once again.

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