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Home Styles in New England!

by Dave Oswald

Last week, Joan and I took a small break and visited the east coast. We visited three states and passed through to more, making five states in 7 days.

Our first stop was Connecticut to visit a friend I've known since church camp in Junior High. She and her husband live in Woodbury, CT in a beautiful home in, what we would probably call, a rural area. They sit high up on a hill, overlooking a beautiful valley. At the bottom is parkland, never to be developed. We saw just a couple of houses scattered about, but otherwise, green and lush.

Our second half of the trip was to New Hampshire to visit my cousin and her husband in Marlborough. They live in a heavily wooded area at the base of Mt. Monadnock with a panoramic view of the mountain from their living room (and our guest room!). We hiked almost every day and marveled at the intricate tapping system set up in the Maple trees to collect sap to make maple syrup.

Being Realtors always makes us curious about different neighborhoods and homes. So we paid particular attention to the topography and home styles. (And of course, I can't pass a Real Estate office without checking out the postings taped to their windows!)

New England's long rolling hills, mountains, and jagged coastline are glacial landforms resulting from the retreat of ice sheets approximately 18,000 years ago, during the last glacial period. So there are huge rock formations jutting out of the ground everywhere you look. Since these rocks and boulders are in large supply, the land owners used them to their advantage and built stone walls separating their property. Sometimes they're a foot high, sometimes three feet high. Many times, they run the entire perimeter of a property. Remember, this is a rural area, so you might own a few acres with these walls surrounding your property. We saw very few fences similar to what we see here in Minnesota. Why buy a fence when you have the makings right there on your own property?

The home styles were another fascination for us. Here, in Minnesota anyway, we have Ramblers, Two Stories, Modified Two Stories, etc. Kind of WYSIWYG...What You See Is What You Get...(i.e. A Two Story is going to be 'two-stories' of home..!) In New England, they have styles such as Colonial, Federal and Saltbox, to name a few. Joan took pictures (her camera was always around her neck!) and we've attached a few examples here. Can you guess which is which...and why?


Okay, the test is over...

The first one, is called a Colonial.  Looks like homes in MN, right? The description is: 'characterized by the hall and parlor and central-passage house types, which often had large chimneys projecting from the gable-ends of the house'. So, technically, I guess our home is a Colonial, as we have a central hallway/staircase, with a parlor/living room to one side. AND we have a chimney on the gable end...who knew?!

The second picture is called a Saltbox. To my knowledge, we don't have many here in MN but if you see one, let me know! The description is: 'a building with a long, pitched roof that slopes down to the back, generally a wooden frame house. A saltbox has just one story in the back and two stories in the front. The flat front and central chimney are recognizable features, but the asymmetry of the unequal sides and the long, low rear roof line are the most distinctive features of a saltbox, which takes its name from its resemblance to a wooden lidded box in which salt was once kept.' I like this style.

The third picture is called a Federal. Descriptions vary on this one. The difference is in the details: While Georgian homes are square and angular, a Federal style building is more likely to have curved lines and decorative flourishes. The White House in Washington DC began as a Georgian, and later took on a Federalist flavor as architects added an elliptical portico and other Neoclassical embellishments. American Federal houses have many of these features:

  • Low-pitched roof, or flat roof with a balustrade
  • Windows arranged symmetrically around a center doorway
  • Semicircular fanlight over the front door
  • Narrow side windows flanking the front door
  • Decorative crown or roof over front door
  • Tooth-like dentil moldings in the cornice
  • Palladian window
  • Circular or elliptical windows
  • Shutters
  • Decorative swags and garlands
  • Oval rooms and arches

This Federal home is a bit unusual in that it actually has a sidewalk to the front door. Most of them just have a front door hanging off the house with no steps or sidewalk. You were expected to go around to another entrance as the front door is just for show.

And finally, the fourth picture is a Ranch. Better known to us as a Rambler, it's a one story home with all of the necessary living spaces on the main level...laundry, master BR, etc. Here in the Midwest, it will most often have a lower level with extra bedrooms, another bath, and maybe a family room.

Now here's one more that is unknown, to us anyway. This style was plentiful, especially in New Hampshire. Sometimes they were in the country with lots of acreage and animals, but could also be found in town.

The basic house could be 1.5 or 2 stories. They always looked like they had had many additions but it was all original house. They all had large porches, usually bigger than this one and the porch always connected directly to the barn. Sometimes it also included a garage.  Joan said this was her favorite style of home because it was so different and just went on and on and on. She'd have no trouble filling it!  She might think differently if the barn smell ALSO connected to the house!

So, there you have styles in New England! If you ever get out there, drive to some of the smaller areas and experience a whole new world where, within a few hours, you can cross 4 or 5 state lines!

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Photo of Dave Oswald Homes Real Estate
Dave Oswald Homes
Coldwell Banker Burnet
10450 185th St W
Lakeville MN 55044
Fax: 952-435-2935

Licensed in Minnesota. Our Minnesota realtors specialize in the areas of Lakeville, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Rosemount,
Farmington, Northfield, Dundas, Dakota County, Scott County, Northern Rice County and Hennepin County.
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