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Don’t Call Them ‘Victorians’

›› Dennis Evanosky

Alameda boasts a grand collection of architectural styles, and not one of them is Victorian. I fondly remember David Nicolai, the former curator of the Pardee Home Museum, introducing my tours there. David always began his introduction with a question.

Alameda Post - Victorian-era homes of differing styles
What style are these homes? Hint: they are not Victorians. Learn about these styles and more during Alameda Post’s walking tours.

“How many of you know what architectural style this house is?” He smiled as the hands of the eager tour participants shot into the air.

“And don’t say ‘Victorian,’” he continued as we both attempted to hide our smirks. Raised hands suddenly and sheepishly disappeared.

“In fact,” he would say to the puzzled faces before him, “there is no such thing as a Victorian style, there are only Victorian-era styles.”

David finally informed the surprised group that in 1868 Enoch Pardee hired the architectural firm of Hoagland & Newsom to design and build the home in the Italianate style. Italianate is one of seven distinct domestic architectural styles that appeared during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901.

The Victorian-era styles, in chronological order, are:

  • Greek Revival
  • Gothic Revival
  • Italianate
  • Eastlake (at first called Modern, then later Stick)
  • Queen Anne
  • Colonial Revival
  • Craftsman

Alameda mirrored the rest of the country in imitating styles popular during Queen Victoria’s reign. By the time European settlers arrived here in the 1850s, the Greek Revival style had almost faded. However, a Greek Revival home has been standing on Park Street since at least 1855.

The Gothic Revival is evident in both the Webster family home on Versailles Avenue and the Rich family home on Fourth Street. Italianates, Eastlakes, Queen Annes, Colonial Revivals and Craftsmen dot Alameda. Have a look at all these styles first-hand during history walking tours with Alameda Post‘s award-winning Historian, Dennis Evanosky.

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