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Residential Architecture in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, there are numerous architectural styles and types of houses that are particularly popular, and some of these include colonials, saltboxes, ranches, Italianate architecture, and bungalows. Georgian architecture, Byzantine architecture and Greek architecture became more widely used in the past 200 years. During the 1950s, many developers began to construct split-level houses in the state, and this architectural style generated many new designs, such as houses with two large entrances and residences that have more than three floors.

Tudor Revival

Since the middle of the 19th century, this style has been incorporated into many residences in the state. The upper halves of some of these houses are made of high-quality wood, and the residences feature roofs that have moderate slopes. Generally, the chimneys are particularly sizable and decorative.

Cambridge, Waltham and Springfield have relatively high percentages of houses that feature this type of design. Moreover, the Adams Building and BU Castle feature this style.


Made of wood, this type of house usually has a relatively small chimney. The rear section of the roof features an especially steep slope and is generally larger than the front part of the roof. Homes with this style tend to resemble containers that held salt in the 17th century and in the 18th century.

This architectural style is particularly common in the eastern regions of Massachusetts. Furthermore, residents can find many saltboxes in Cape Cod and on the islands that surround the state.

Neoclassical Architecture

This type of architecture became popular during the 1750s in England and in France. The style is somewhat based on the design of structures in the Roman Empire. Many of the buildings feature sizable pediments, and structures with this style are commonly supported by many columns.

In Massachusetts, the designs are exemplified by the Fitchburg Historical Society, Arlington Reservoir and the Massachusetts State Armory. Constructed in 1916, the Old Attleboro Post Office provides a prime example of this style. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Greek Architecture

This type of design became popular in the 18th century, and the style mimics the architecture of structures that were built in the cities of Ancient Greece. Homes that are based on this type of architecture usually have columns, and large platforms are frequently positioned in front of the structure.

Constructed in 1853, the Albert Vinal House provides an outstanding example of this design. Every year, the Micah Williams House is analyzed by hundreds of developers who want to build structures with a Greek style. In order to view additional examples of the design, residents may visit the Gilbrae Inn and the Federal Street District.

Victorian Architecture

This style became particularly popular between 1835 and 1900. Generally, the exteriors of the buildings consist of stone or wood, and the roofs are usually quite steep. The gables are commonly pointing in numerous directions. Many houses with this style have a cylindrical tower. Furthermore, the towers of some structures are octagonal.

The eastern part of Massachusetts has an especially large amount of homes with Victorian architecture. To see this style, residents should check out the Bedford Block, the boathouse of the Union Boat Club and the Cyclorama Building.


Many of these homes were constructed during the 1920s and the 1930s. Bungalows usually have at least two stories, and the roofs of the houses are sloped. The structures are equipped with trusses that are exposed. Generally, bungalows have larger foundations than other types of houses, and the residences are almost always detached.

This type of home is common in the suburbs and in rural areas of Massachusetts. A prime example of a bungalow is the James E. Simpson House, which was built around 1920.

Split-Level Houses

The floors of this type of home are generally staggered. Split-level residences usually contain two staircases, and the bedrooms are traditionally positioned on the second floor. Due to the smaller area of one level, developers frequently add a finished basement to the home.

The ground floors of some of the structures feature especially high ceilings. Due to the staggered positions of the levels, many builders add staircases to the exterior of the building, and these stairs are generally placed in the rear.

In the 1950s, this style became more popular in Massachusetts. An extensive analysis showed that split-level houses are much more common in the state's suburbs than in cities.

Romanesque Styles

This design was originally used during the Middle Ages, and the style was particularly favored in Europe. This type of building usually has especially thick walls and buttresses that are flat. Many of the structures feature sizable arches and several towers, and outdoor staircases are commonly installed on the sides of the building.

In Massachusetts, structures with this architectural style include High Rock Tower Reservation, the Warren Public Library and Murdock School. One analysis indicated that less than one percent of homes in Massachusetts are based on this type of design; however, houses with the style generally have higher values.

Italianate Revival

This architectural style is based on the designs of houses that were built in Italy between 1535 and 1900. The buildings have many windows and several balconies, and in some cases, the structure features at least one tower. The cornice is especially decorative and bracketed.

Some designers have speculated that Massachusetts has more buildings with this style than any other state. Structures that exemplify the characteristics of Italianate designs include the Seth Adams House, the Joseph Andrews House, the Gilbert Colburn House, the Isaac Davis House and the Perez Smith House. Located in Waltham, the East Main Street Historic District has a particularly high number of homes that feature Italianate architecture.


In Massachusetts, these structures were primarily built between the beginning of the 15th century and the start of the 19th century, and in the last five decades, their popularity has rapidly grown. Made of wood, the building usually has protruding gables, narrow eaves and roofs with steep slopes. Generally, the home is only equipped with one chimney that is especially large. The structures usually have a high number of windows, but many dividers are placed between the relatively small panes.

The style is substantially more popular in the northeastern part of Massachusetts than in the state's southern section. Built in 1641, the Fairbanks House features this type of design, and in Massachusetts, the structure is the oldest home with a frame that consists of timber. The house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1960s.