RHHS LogoThe Richmond Hill Historical Society___________________________________________
 
Back To RHHSMapsResourcesEarly YearsQuick InfoNew and Latest UpDatesGuest Page

About Queen Anne Victorian Front Porches / About Queen Anne Victorian Staircases
About Queen Anne Victorian Homes

THE QUEEN ANNE VICTORIAN HOMES of Richmond Hill
This information has been supplied by the Publication "Victorian Richmond Hill", Published by The Richmond Hill Chapter of The Queens Historical Society ©1980 and made possible in part by grants from The Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City, The Richmond Hill Savings Bank, The Columbia Savings and Loan Association, and the Consolidated Edison Company of New York.

Photo of Queen Anne Victorian HomeMany of the homes in Richmond Hill, NY are Queen Anne Victorians, a style combining different ages of architecture in a unique interpretation prevalent at the turn of the century. Introduced at the Great Centennial World's Fair in Philadelphia in 1876, the Queen Anne house dominates the streets of this quiet Queens community of Richmond Hill. 
The style emphasized the traditional strength of design and construction prevalent in the time of Queen Anne, over a century before, and combined the elements of Elizabethan, Jacobean and classical architecture in an eclectic way. It succeeded in sweeping the neo gothic and mansardic styles of architecture into the past. According to the Old House Journal, a primary reference of restorationists, it is the most common 'old house' around today. 
The architectural style used gable next to gable, wing touching wing, wide-spreading verandas, balconies on the upper floors, bays, oriels and towers topped by finials. These towers, or turrets as they are more popularly called, reflect Jacobean design. Some are round, some are square, some are three-sided and some are octagonal. A walk along a street in Richmond Hill might reveal three types of turrets on the same block. Motifs, such as the sunburst or sunflower, add further embellishment to the exterior. 
Another method of insuring variety, a hallmark of the Queen Annes, was to vary the finials, hoods, pediments, doors and other architectural features of the homes. Due to advances in the manufacture of glass by 1883, windows were no longer an extravagance, and the designers of Queen Anne homes were able to use them to free design more fully to the effects of light. The great profusion of Queen Anne windows in Richmond Hill are elongated and admit massive amounts of light and scenery, undoubtedly reflecting an early respect for the ecological value of environment and solar heating. 
In Richmond Hill, the siding used on the exterior of the homes was similar to that used on most Queen Anne houses and consisted of small cedar shingles, called shakes, used in combination with clapboard, an elongated board approximately five inches wide. The clapboard was generally used on the first floor while the shakes covered the upper stories, although this varies occasionally. Queen Anne houses are usually two and a half stories high and the combinations of shakes and clapboard produced crisp variety in Richmond Hill where many homes still have the original siding. 
Color and pattern were important to the Victorians and the exterior siding reflected this interest. The Queen Anne homes were rarely painted one color but often two, three, four and even five colors were used. Many of the Richmond Hill homes today reflect the Victorian preference for reddish browns, deep greens, golden ochres and dark reds. Originally, the homes were stained but many residents in Richmond Hill have switched to paint. Warm reddish brown seems to be generally acknowledged as the most popular color then, with the others following. The colonial revival architecture, introduced at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, signaled a return to white as a decorative color for exteriors, and some of Richmond Hill's turn of the century homes reflected this trend. 
The interior of the Queen Anne homes echoes the elegance of an age gone by. The rooms vary widely in size and shape, but few are square because of the frequent use of bay windows and oriels. Ceilings are tall and the living rooms have the front and back parlor effect so popular at the turn of the century. Big oak sliding doors disappear into the walls between the first floor rooms. A swinging door usually leads to the dining room from the kitchen. Oak paneled window casings surround all windows in the house, and wainscotting is plentiful on the first floor. 
Lincrusta-Walton is a heavy wall covering popular in hallways and parlors during the nineteenth century. Lincrusta has raised patterns in a leather-like material. It is heavy to work with and needs to be soaked in a tub for many hours before application and coated with varnish. Lincrusta is no longer available in America but it can still be seen in many Richmond Hill foyers where it was used to produce leather-like effects. 
Keeping warm was a primary concern at the turn of the century when central heating was just beginning to develop, and people still warmed their beds with bricks. People conserved heat and the early residents of Richmond Hill were no exception. Homes in the area show evidences of drapery rods in front of the oak doors where heavy drapes known as portieres were hung. Portieres were expected to save heat and be decorative at the same time.

 About Queen Anne Victorian Front Porches / About Queen Anne Victorian Staircases