EARLY SOUTH FLORIDA HOMES

This section focuses on architectural styles of homes in Palm Beach County, particularly focusing on
West Palm Beach.  What we know of Southeast Florida today developed at about the same time
period (North Florida earlier). Therefore, a lot of this information applies to Broward and Dade
counties too (in fact all three counties were once Dade County).

Identifying a building’s original architectural style is important.  Alterations and additions sometimes
make identification difficult.  It may be helpful to consult building records to find out when a structure
was built.  Because different architectural styles prevailed during different periods, a building’s style
often helps to establish the date of construction.  Looking at neighboring properties may help, too,
especially if they have not been altered significantly.  Old photographs, architectural history and
reference texts, and a City’s Historic Preservation Division if they have one, may also may provide
clues.  Historical societies sometimes have a treasure trove of information. [LINK TO FINDING
INFORMATION ABOUT A HOUSE]

It is difficult to find pure, academically correct examples of specific architectural styles.  Generally, a
professionally-designed building that has undergone little renovation is most likely to exhibit the
characteristics of a pure style.  For instance, the Seaboard Coastline Railroad Passenger Station on
Tamarind Avenue in West Palm Beach, designed by Harvey and Clarke, is clearly a Mediterranean
Revival building. [jpg here]

West Palm Beach, for instance, was a regional center for supplies and craftsmen, and many well
known architects designed public and private buildings in West Palm Beach.  However, local
craftsmen, instead of trained architects, designed most buildings here.  Such builders were influenced
by their buyers’ interest in custom features.  Some residents bought house plans from pattern books
and magazines, including the Sears, Roebuck & Company.  Complete house packages were
available that could be customized for the lot size and personal taste of the owner.  In other instances,
local builders were limited by the availability of building materials.  For these reasons, some buildings
combine elements of two or more styles.  Also, later additions may be in another style.

To identify a building’s style, examine all of its features.  Notice especially the front façade, including
doors, windows, surface materials, and decorative detail and trim; the roof shape and materials;
visual projections and recesses; and any decorative detail or trim.  Then look through this section.  
Compare the features on the building with those listed as typical of each style.  In West Palm Beach,
the City’s Historic Preservation Planner can provide help and advice.

One of the first structures in West Palm Beach was the homestead of Rev. Elbert Gale.  A log cabin,
it was described as being of hewn logs with shingles made from salvaged wreckage found on the
beaches. Another home in 1885 had walls and roofs of bundled palmetto fronds.  

The most common architectural style in West Palm Beach is the Mission style.  There are nearly
2,000 Mission homes and commercial buildings in the city.  The Mediterranean Revival style follows,
with nearly 400 examples.  The oldest houses are Frame Vernacular and Bungalows, but few of them
have survived.

Vernacular styles evolved from South Florida building traditions and standards.  They did not depend
on European traditions and were not heavily influenced by architectural design.   Several styles are
similar.  For instance, a Colonial Revival Classic Box can resemble a Foursquare house.  Each
unique building adds to our historic fabric, and provides a rich legacy for us to enjoy.

Vernacular (various time periods)

West Palm Beach’s earliest structures were turn-of-the-century Frame and Masonry Vernacular
buildings (1895-1915) designed and constructed by local craftsmen from readily available materials.  
Houses were similar in construction with post-and-beam and balloon-frame methods commonly
used.  Locale, roof pitch, porch size, and decorative millwork created visual variation. These
buildings were transmitted by memory or pattern books, constructed by local builders using
traditional building techniques, utilizing locally available construction materials and adapting to the
landscape and climate and the needs of the owner.

Early Vernacular houses typically were rectangular in plan and mounted on masonry piers.  Roofs
were shingled and steeply pitched.  The eaves extended out over house walls to provide protection
from rain and sun.  Dormers provided attic ventilation.  Early Vernacular houses were plain.  They
were planned to provide protection and security, so there was little emphasis on decoration.  Frame
Vernacular houses usually were built on piers to provide air circulation under the house.  Many
builders often framed Vernacular houses with Dade County pine, which becomes very hard and is so
resinous that it deters termites.

Frame Vernacular houses often have steep pyramidal roof lines, roof overhangs with exposed rafter
tails, wooden or sheet metal shingles (perhaps replaced later with asphalt or composition shingles),
and dormers for attic circulation.  Many exteriors are covered with horizontal plank siding, with
patterned shingles covering the gables or second stories.  Typically, the shingle patterns and roof
brackets, plus porch railings or columns, are the only decorations.

After the 1896 fire that destroyed much of the downtown, West Palm Beach changed the building
codes to require more fire-resistant materials.  The use of hollow clay tile, concrete block, and brick
increased.

Like Frame Vernacular houses, Masonry Vernacular houses were simple and inexpensive.  Some
Masonry Vernacular houses were built from a type of concrete block molded to simulate rough, cut
stone.  This building material was inexpensive because no surface finish was necessary.  On other
Masonry Vernacular houses, stucco covered hollow clay tiles and concrete blocks.  Masonry
Vernacular houses tend to be larger than Frame Vernacular ones.

Masonry Vernacular houses often have deep porches with overhanging gables or hipped roofs.  
Exposed lintels frame double-hung sash windows.  Little ornamentation was used except occasional
columns, piers, dormer windows, rafter tails, or eaves brackets.  Wood shingles or multi-colored
composition shingles cover the roofs.

To recap, Vernacular features include: wood frame; one, two, or two and a half stories; front gable
or hipped roofs; knee braces, exposed rafter ends, slotted vents in gable ends; open, single-story
front porches with shed roofs and overhanging eaves; foundation piers with ventilation; natural,
unpainted brick chimneys; horizontal weatherboarding with shingle pattern or board-and-batten
accepts; wood doors with simple glazed panels; double-hung sash windows; plain window
surrounds; board-and-batten shutters.

A later version, the Mid-Century Vernacular (1935-1945) style’s development stemmed from the
“less is more” theory then current.  These houses had one story, and emphasized interior
functionalism instead of exterior design.  Ranch and split-level houses are adaptations of this style.  
The focus in Mid-Century Vernacular houses is on interior space.  Typical layouts include a split
bedroom plan, a Florida room in the back of the house, and a rear patio accessed by sliding glass
doors.  Other windows were jalousie or aluminum awnings windows.

Mid-Century Vernacular houses are built of brick or concrete block and have attached one-car
garages or carports.  They feature showcase front windows and front gable or hipped roofs topped
with flat cement tiles.  Identical houses were built side-by-side along many streets, and were built on
vacant lots in many older neighborhoods.

Conch/Bahamian/Shotgun (1895-1915) [jpg here]

One-story frame shotgun houses, narrow but deep, were built in rows on small lots.  In West Palm
Beach, the best examples are in the Northwest neighborhood.  There are many similar examples in
the heart of the downtown area in Lake Worth.  Plain posts or carved brackets support open front
porches; many porches have been enclosed over the years.  These houses feature front gables and
front doors on the side of the front facades.  Rooms in shotgun houses are arranged linearly, with a
hall starting at the front door and running the length of the building to a rear door.  Folklore says that
you can fire a shotgun in the front door and out the back without hitting a wall – that is why these are
called “shotgun” houses.  Shotgun houses were small and inexpensive to build.  They frequently have
tin roofs and single- or double-sash windows.  They usually were whitewashed or painted white.

“Conch” architecture is a style common in southern Florida.  It was inspired by similar structures
throughout the Caribbean islands and the Florida Keys.  Conch architecture is a simple, unadorned,
local interpretation of several Classical Revival styles of architecture.  Conch houses are one- or two-
story buildings built on limestone pier foundations that allow air to circulate beneath the floors.  
Horizontal plank siding usually covers the exteriors, which are topped with shallow gable roofs
perpendicular to the fronts.  They may have two-story front porches, accented by carved wood
braces or brackets and exposed rafter tails.  Sheet metal and shingles are common roof coverings.  
They customarily have double-hung sash windows with wood casements.  Ornamentation is minimal.

(American) Foursquare (1910-1920) [jpg here]

The Foursquare style combines the Classic Box Colonial, the Bungalow, and the Vernacular styles of
architecture.  These single or double residences look like a cube, with each side about as wide as it is
tall.  They contain two or two and a half stories, and often include open front porches.  They can be
topped with front-facing gables or hipped roofs, and may have dormers.  A typical interior has four
downstairs living rooms with four corner bedrooms upstairs.  Dormers, eave details, and a front
porch framed with tapered columns are the principal architectural features.  Scrolled brackets or
carved rafter tails sometimes were added.

ARCHITECTURAL “STYLES”

In addition to vernacular buildings, many others reflect specific acknowledged architectural styles.  
Like vernacular buildings, those noted as being a particular “style” may have elements of other styles.
Nevertheless, we take the main architectural features of a house and see if it fits into the following
styles.

Bungalow (1910-1920) [jpg here]

The word bungalow is derived from the Indian word “bengala”, meaning a low house with porches.  
Many of the oldest houses in West Palm Beach are Bungalows; in 1915 they comprised 75% of all
homes.

William Morris’ English Arts and Crafts movement and Gustav Stickler’s Craftsman theories
influenced classic American Bungalow architecture.  Japanese houses and Swiss chalets also
contributed to this style.  Bungalows’ functional design and traditional emphasis on fine craftsmanship
made them popular in the early days of West palm Beach.  Craftsmen Bungalows are modest, frame,
one-story buildings.  California Bungalows are more elaborate one-and-a-half story houses with
multiple roof gables.

“Ladies Home Journal, “Bungalow Magazine,” and “The Craftsmen” provided plans and diagrams
for inexpensive Bungalows.  They emphasized workmanship, function, and simplicity of the total
environment.  Interiors featured stone fireplaces, inglenooks, and built-in cabinets.  Architects
encouraged coordinated furniture, lighting, and accessories.  Exterior yards and gardens were
designed to complement the house.

Gustav Stickle believed that simple housing needs should be met in simple ways, using local materials
and local labor.  He insisted that the materials used in construction be left as natural as possible, with
brick, stone, and shingles unpainted.  West Palm Beach Bungalows can be surfaced with politic
limestone brick, stone, stucco, and rusticated block.  Many West Palm Beach Bungalows are
trimmed with coquina rock or tapestry brick.  Typically, they have lots of windows, including a
predominant front window.  Interior woodwork can be chestnut, birch, or oak.

Bungalow features: one or one-and-a-half stories with two stories less common; basic rectangular
plan under a broad gable; single gable, overlapping front gables, or hip roofs; wide eaves, projecting
support beams, exposed rafter ends with knee braces; open front porches under the main roof
supported by tapered square columns on masonry piers; brick or stone foundations; stucco or rough-
hewn stone chimneys with the fireplace the axial core of the interior; frame or masonry facades with
stone or brick trim; horizontal weatherboards or shingle cladding with vertical gable boards; leaded
glass windows and doors; broad banks of casement windows, multi-pane windows, dormer
windows louvered vents, vertical Arts and Crafts or Prairie windows; porte cocheres; timber
pergolas and trellises.

Prairie (1910-1920) [jpg here]

The Midwestern prairie’s flat plains inspired the geometric mass of Prairie houses.  Frank Lloyd
Wright probably is the best known architect who worked in this style.  Prairie houses were a reaction
against more ornate European Revival forms.  The Arts and Crafts movement and Bungalow
architecture influenced this style.  They are shaped like single or multiple blocks, and often topped
with projecting eaves that contribute to the building’s horizontal lines.  Bands of windows with share
sills also emphasize horizontal lines.

This architectural style was limited almost entirely to single family residences.  Prairie houses were
designed to be functional, and to fit into the surrounding landscape.  Prairie houses have no fancy
details, and have simple interior plans.  They often have cantilevered, overhanging eaves and off-
center entrances.

Prairie features: one or two stories; horizontal design emphasis; open interiors with combined living,
dining, and entertaining areas; flat roofs, or low pitches hip roofs with projecting eaves; chimneys at
roof plane intersections; wide porches with masonry walls as balustrades; stucco finished over wood
frames or concrete block; natural dark wood, stained wood, and brick trim; little ornamentation;
bands of casement or double-hung windows with shared sills; multi-pane vertical windows; leaded or
stained glass in geometric patterns; terraces with built-in planters.

Neoclassical Revival (1920-1930) [jpg here]

The 1893 Columbian Exposition featured Neoclassical Revival buildings, and declared this
architectural style to be the ideal of the “American Renaissance.”  Neoclassical buildings are
monumental in scale, so this style was used for public buildings.  A good example is the imposing
building of the Florida State Board of Health Laboratory at 415 Fifth St. in West Palm Beach.  It
originally served as the first health department in South Florida, and faced the railroad tracks so new
arrivals would be impressed with the progressive nature of West Palm Beach.

The front of many Neoclassical Revival buildings resembles a Greek temple, with Doris, Ionic, or
Corinthian details.  Typical features include columns supporting pediments and entablatures; tall, first
floor windows crowned with a pediment; rectangular transom windows over entrances; and steep
stairs to a raised foundation.  The emphasis is on smooth, finished materials.

Spanish Revival Styles

During the 20’s Spanish-style houses and public buildings came into vogue in West Palm Beach,
influenced by popular buildings in Palm Beach.  Addison Mizner’s Spanish Revival style contrasted
strongly with the frame-and-shingle style favored by Henry Flagler.  Mizner is known for the homes
and public buildings he designed in Palm Beach and Boca Raton, but local tradition holds that he also
designed the West Palm Beach Hillcrest home (no longer there) of Karl Riddle.  Mr. Riddle was
Mizner’s chief engineer and the first City Manager of West Palm Beach.

The same craftsmen who worked on Palm Beach estates also worked in West Palm Beach, building
houses north and south of West Palm Beach’s downtown.  Some houses were modest Mission
cottages, and others were flamboyant Mediterranean Revival mansions.  New roads in West Palm
Beach were given Spanish names such as Valencia, Granada, Cordova, and Barcelona, and the El
Cid subdivision was named for a medieval Spanish hero.

Local industries provided the materials that provided the Spanish accent.  One of those businesses,
Mizner Industries, on the corner of Bunker Rd. and Georgia Ave., provided components
manufactured to Addison Mizner’s specifications.  Mizner Industries made roof tiles and glazed floor
tiles from white and red Georgia clay; made iron and wooden grilles, gates and screens; and
assembled leaded and stained glass.  Paneled ceilings, doors, and trim details were made from a
fibrous material called “Woodite”, composed of wood shavings and plaster of Paris.  Mizner used
pre-cast concrete, and introduced Quarry Key Stone cut from Islamorada’s coquina rocks.

Ecclesiastical motifs were adapted to make entrances impressive.  Moorish and Italian influences
show up in stone corbels, patios with wood posts and stucco walls.  Winding front walks, sometimes
accented with broken tiles, lead to arched, paneled doors.  Door surrounds feature twisted columns
supporting a front entry cover.  Windows can have pointed or rounded arches, and some second-
story windows open onto functional or decorative balconies edged with wrought iron railings.  Patios
served as outdoor living areas, and some have fireplaces or tiled fountains.  Many fine examples of
Spanish-style homes can be seen in El Cid, Flamingo Park and Old Northwood Historic Districts.

Mission Revival [jpg here]

Mission houses are the most common style of historic houses in West Palm Beach (1920-1925).  
They are reminiscent of the string of mission churches constructed along the California coast by
Father Junipero Serra in the late 1700’s.  Those missions were built one day’s walk apart, and
established Spain’s claim to the New World.  The communities that sprang up around those humble
missions grew into the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara, etc.

Mission houses were simple and inexpensive to build.  They are less elaborate and less formal that
Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival houses.  West Palm Beach has many one- and two-
story examples, typified by terra cotta tile roof overhangs, large square piers supporting porches, and
textured stucco walls.  The
Mission style emphasizes surface textures rather than architectural details.

Mission features: balloon frames of wood or hollow clay tiles, one, two or three stories; flat roofs
with straight or curved parapets and roof scuppers; open, columned front porches; decorative
chimney tops; rough or smooth stucco facades; front focus on wooden doors and showcase
windows; arched window, door, and porch openings; sash and casement windows; porte cocheres;
minimal decoration that can includes niches, architraves, tile, and wrought iron.

Spanish Colonial Revival [jpg here]

Spanish Colonial Revival buildings in West Palm Beach were built between
1920 and 1930.  Provincial Spanish architecture in Central America and the
West Indies influenced them.  Typical Spanish Colonial Revival buildings
have one- and two-ranked facades, and may be accented with green barrel
tile roofs.  Churches, public buildings, and houses were built in West Palm
Beach in this style.

Spanish Colonial Revival houses are more elaborate than the plainer, functional Mission ones, and
are less eclectic and asymmetrical than Mediterranean Revival ones.  Spanish Colonial Revival
houses are centered and balanced, with functional compound arches and low-relief carvings.

Spanish Colonial Revival features: block or wood frames; one or two stories; barrel tile hip roofs,
sometimes curvilinear parapets; eaves with molded cornices; decorative bell towers; arcaded
porches and loggias; wrought iron balconies, balconets, and grilles; stucco facades; elaborate central
front doors; arched or rectangular windows; cornice window heads.

Mediterranean Revival [jpg here]

The 1915 Panama-California Exposition increased national interest in Mediterranean Revival
architecture.  That event, couples with admiration for Addison Mizner’s glamorous Palm Beach
mansions and clubs, firmly established the Mediterranean Revival style’s popularity in West Palm
Beach (1920-1930).  Spanish, Italian, and Moorish sources inspired a variety of interior and exterior
details.

Mediterranean Revival buildings are likely to have winding staircases and massive fireplaces inside,
and have pastel stucco finishes and barrel tile roofs outside.  They sometimes were trimmed with
glazed ceramic tiles, terra cotta ornaments, cast concrete pediments, parapets, and bell towers.  
Complexity and diversity were featured.

Major West Palm Beach architects who worked in this style include John Volk, Maurice Fatio,
Howard Major, Sherman Childs, William Manley King, and Harvey & Clarke.  West Palm Beach
has Mediterranean Revival banks, churches, schools and homes.  The Seaboard Railway Station,
201 S. Tamarind Ave., is a fine example of this style of architecture.

Mediterranean Revival features: one, two and three stories; asymmetrical shapes; cross-gabled,
pitched, shed, hip, and pyramidal roofs; barrel tile roofs; functional and ornamental balconies; patios,
loggias, and courtyards, sometimes with fountains; decorative chimney tops; stucco facades with
wood, stone, and concrete accents; arches above doors, windows, and beneath roofs; doorways
with carved stonework, spiral columns, and pilasters; casement windows and wrought iron window
grills; inlaid decorative tiles.

Monterey (1930-1940) [jpg here]

Monterey houses often feature thick masonry walls reminiscent of Spanish
Colonial architecture in combination with wooden elements borrowed from
New England buildings.  The 1837 Larkin House in Monterey, California,
is the oldest example of this style of architecture.

Two-story Monterey houses are rectangular in form and topped with a gable roof.  The facades may
be covered with horizontal clapboards on both stories, or may have brick or concrete block on the
first story with clapboards above.  A distinctive feature is a second story front balcony running the
length of the house, or covering half or three quarters of the front.  The double porches of traditional
tidewater dwellings influenced these balconies.  Monterey roofs are tile or wood shingles; carved
rafter tails are exposed.  Paired double-hung windows on each side of the simple front entrance are
shaded by the balcony above them.  Porch posts and balcony railings are plain, though a Creole-
French variation features decorative iron balcony railings.

Monterey features: two stories; side-gabled roofs topped with shingles or flat tiles; second-story
balcony under the mail roof; wood, or wood and masonry, facades; simple entranceways; paired,
double-hung windows.

Colonial Revival [jpg here]

The U.S. 1876 Centennial celebrations inspired Colonial Revival architecture.  There are several
variations, including frame Cape Cod cottages and two-story frame, brick, and concrete New
England Classic houses.  Colonial Revival homes became popular around 1930 as the enthusiasm for
Spanish architecture ebbed.

Simplicity, symmetry, and economical construction methods characterize Colonial Revival houses.  
They have one, one and a half, or two stories of wood frame construction.  They are topped by
gable roofs covered with wood or asbestos shingles.  Inside, Colonial Revival houses commonly
have two large front rooms separated by a staircase or center brick chimney.  They may have
dormers, elaborate doorways, decorative entablatures under the eaves, and copper accessories.  
Porches and porte cocheres were placed on the side.

There are several variations of Colonial Revival houses.  Dutch Colonials have gambrel roofs, flares
eaves, and shed dormers.  Bermuda and British Colonials feature corner quoins and tile hip roofs
with side gables.

Colonial Revival features: wood frame or masonry construction; one, one and a half, or two stories;
symmetrical shapes; steep gabled or hip roofs topped with shingles; eave moldings; side porches;
horizontal clapboards, or brick or concrete facades; front entrances decorated with crowns, fanlights,
sidelights; columned entry porches; paired, double-hung sash windows with multi-pane glazing;
dormer windows; wooden shutters; saddlebags (second floor overhands); Georgian or Adams
details; porte cocheres.

THE MODERN MOVEMENT

Modern architecture sought to elkiminate references to traditional architectural forms by embarking
on a seardh for new forms and ways of using new materials. Often the three styles below are found in
combination.

International [jpg here]

The International style of architecture became popular in Europe as a reaction to ornate European
Revival buildings.  The modern functional International style was imported to the U.S. in the 30’s
through the work of La Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, all of whom stressed
simplicity over ornamentation.

The relationship of the materials is a key design element.  Synthetic materials, prefabrication, and
machine work replaced hand fabrication.  Thinner walls, lighter construction, new proportions, and
new textures resulted.  Windows can be sliding panels, metal casements, or curtain walls of glass.  
Smooth stucco facades are white or cream with wood trim stained in earth tones.  They may be
accented with horizontal banding.

International features: flat gravel roofs; cubical, asymmetrical, or balanced facades; smooth, uniform
surfaces; lack of ornamentation; concrete, glass, and steel features; banks of metal casement
windows; standardized glazed frames for windows, doors, and fixed glass.

Art Deco [jpg here]

The 1925 Exposition International des Arts Decoratifs and Industriels Modernes, held in Paris
showcased the work of architects, artists, and designers.  The style known as Art Deco that was
introduced at this exposition blends the decorative arts with European modernism.  Art Deco can be
viewed as a combination of 1890’s Art Nouveau and the Machine Age.

Typical Art Deco architecture is stylized geometric patterns made of modern materials such as
concrete, glass, and metal.  Art Deco buildings in West Palm Beach exhibit tropical adaptations,
including decorative motifs such as flamingos, pelicans, palm trees, and ocean waves.

The Armory Arts Center at the south end of Howard Park, pictured above, is a noteworthy example
of Art Deco architecture.  There are only a few other Art Deco buildings, primarily houses and small
apartment buildings in West Palm Beach,  Art Deco style began to seem ostentatious during the
Depression, which began in the late 20’s, so Art Deco gave way to Art Moderne architecture.

Art Deco features: concrete block construction; linear parapets and flat roofs; stepped or set back
facades; geometric, linear forms with hard edges that contrast with elaborate decorations; smooth,
painted stucco, sometimes with natural stone; casement, metal sash, and corner windows with
ornamentation; glass blocks; metal or cast concrete details; zigzag, chevron, sunrise, and floral motifs,
plus tropical variations.

Art Moderne [jpg here]

The emphasis on technology that followed WWI influenced the Art Moderns architectural style which
flourished between 1930 and 1945.  People were drawn to the streamlined, aerodynamic shapes of
modern planes and cars, and were fascinated by new materials such as molded plastic, glass blocks,
and stainless steel.  Art Moderne architecture applies technology to architecture.

Art Moderne buildings emphasize form and mass, instead of ornamental detail.  Horizontal lines and
corner windows accept smooth flat and curved walls.  Details are geometric.  Although Art Moderne
is not common in West Palm Beach, we have a few commercial buildings in this style, plus a few
houses.  The Marshall and Vera Rinker House, built in 1939 at 2111 S. Flagler Dr. in West Palm
Beach, pictured above, is a fine example.

Art Moderne features: flat roofs; asymmetric shapes; stepped and projected parapets; smooth
surface finishes; curvilinear accepts; horizontal façade elements; wood and metal doors, often with
round windows; metal screen doors with stylized decorations; metal casement windows; corner,
octagonal, and porthole windows; cantilevered sun shades, called eyebrows, over windows; stainless
steel, terrazzo, and glass tile accents.

Church Architecture [jpg here]

A separate category, Church Architecture stands alone.

In Romanesque Revival, semi-circular arched doors and windows distinguish the restrained
exteriors.  They generally were built of brick or stone, and flanked with bookend square or polygonal
towers of varying heights and roof coverings.  Belt or string courses mark the horizontal divisions,
and moldings accent columns and compound arches.  Medieval accents include battlement parapets,
buttress walls, splayed window openings, and blind arches.  The Tabernacle Missionary Baptist
Church at 801 8th St. (pictured above) in the Northwest Historic District of West Palm Beach, is a
particularly fine example.

Some Gothic Revival churches in West palm Beach have stone or stucco facades, while some wood
frame Gothic Revival churches are patterned after rural English Gothic ones.  Carpenter Gothic
churches are made from vertical planks and board-and-batten strips.  Distinctive Gothic Revival
characteristics include steep roofs, decorative chimney pots, vergeboards in the eaves, and a variety
of picturesque windows.  Tudor-style pointed arches frame stained glass windows, and hood molds
with corbel stops shade lancet windows.  The first St. Ann’s Catholic Church, built in 1896, is the
oldest Gothic Revival building in West Palm Beach.  Henry Flagler donated St. Ann’s land at 301 N.
Olive Ave.

THE POST WAR PERIOD

After the cost of a home doubled from 1940 and the 50s because of increased cost of labor and
materials, many new homes were downsized to less than 1,000 square feet.  It is the time period
from 1948-1958 that these modest homes proliferated across the American landscape. It was an
extremely significant time in our country’s history with returning veterans from World War II and the
Korean War – and the need for simple, secure housing for families. Levittowns, or their kindred,
sprang up across the country, and locally empty lots and tracts of land were quickly filled with such
housing.

Minimal Traditional [jpg here]
Generally modest in size and usually square or rectangular in shape, these homes eliminated many
frills such as porches and formal dining rooms as a cost savings. Some simple references to earlier
styles, such as quoining or gabled porticos were incorporated.

Minimal Modern [jpg here]
A parallel to the Minimal Traditional, the Minimal Modern incorporated large windows, rows of
windows (ribbon windows, shed and asymmetrical gables roofs with one slope much longer than the
other and often a carport.

Ranch [jpg here]
A wide, rectangular plan is colon, often with shallow front porches. Decoration is little more than
shutters and open-work metal posts. The orientation is through the rear to a patio off sliding glass
doors.

Split Level [jpg here]
Offering the opportunity to separate adult from children’s spaces, commonly the garage is located on
a lower level with the master bedroom above the garage.
Florida Historic Homes
Historic National      Historic Florida     Historic Palm Beach County    Historic West Palm Beach
Architectural Styles    Historic Features&Tips    Resources    Glossary
Home     News     Events      Site Map     Contact Me
ARCHITECTURAL STYLES
Do you have an interest in
purchasing or selling an
historic property?
Contact me - It's my specialty!
cullen@digital.net
www.lindacullen.com