Architectural Styles in Rensselaer County: 1840s and 1885s
The Italianate Style was inspired by the breezy openness of Italian villas. Abandoning the rigid forms of the Greek Revival Style, Italianate buildings have freer more asymmetrical massing and “romantic” features such as towers, cupolas and bay windows, but unlike Gothic Revival buildings, Italianate buildings have a boxy or square feeling to them.
The style is chiefly distinguished by the heavy use of ornamental brackets, set under wide cornices and under door and window hoods. Mass production of these ornamental brackets and hoods made them readily available and relatively inexpensive. It is not uncommon to find earlier styles which were transformed into Italianate structures during the mid-19th century.
Italianate homes were covered with clapboards and painted in rather deep yellow-green, gray or blue-gray colors. The brackets were usually painted in a strong contrasting color such as pale yellow or dark green. Many colonial and federal style houses were “remodeled” in the late 19th century into Italianate structures. this was done by adding brackets, elongated windows and bay windows.
In houses, look for:
Houses are often simple, cubic building shapes with hipped roofs. A “hipped” roof is one that slants on all four sides. The eaves of this house are supported by wooden brackets at the cornice line (where the walls meet the roof).
Tall, two-over-two double-hung windows, bay
Porches with carved posts.
The projecting central bay of this house mimics the tower popular in this style.
The tower of this front-gabled house has a mansard roof and iron cresting.
A hipped roof with a small central gable is common in some regions. The small tower on the roof is called a cupola.
An important distinguishing feature of the Italianate is the wide, overhanging
eaves supported by large decorated brackets at the cornice line.
Double doors, often arched.
Round-headed windows with curved wooden or brick arches. The window moldings are more prominent than in earlier styles. Some windows have curved or triangular pediments.
Many extend from the wall and are called "hooded" window moldings.
Bay windows and porches add to the shape of the house.
This commercial building example has a cupola.
In other commercial examples you might also look for cast iron ornamentation in storefronts or over windows