Buyers searching for Capitol Hill real estate will notice the neighborhood’s diverse selection. Properties built here have experienced the influences of several different tenant types and architectural fads. Factors like available materials and labor impacted a home’s look throughout the centuries. Many buildings also took years to complete. This resulted in a mix of architectural styles within the same creation. Here are some popular styles you might notice when traveling through Capitol Hill.
There are several well-known examples of neoclassical design in Capitol Hill. The most well-known is the US Capitol Building, which started construction in 1793. The Capitol Building’s designs took inspiration from ancient Greece and Rome. The US Supreme Court Building is another example of this style. Although buyers can't expect constructions quite as grand in their home searches, similar elements pop up in Greek Revival homes.
The federal style is marked by its simple facades, straight lines, and low stoops. Single-family home versions typically have only two or three bedrooms. This style also has touches of Greek and Roman inspiration. These homes feature graduated windows that are arched. More upper-class iterations also feature round and oval rooms. Row houses in Capitol Hill commonly have modifications added to their exteriors and gabled roofs.
The Renaissance Revival form appeared between 1840 and 1890. This style reflects Italy’s urban palaces and ornate design. Elements included windows with window hoods, simple forms, and organized fenestration. Popular buildings in this style include the Pension Building and the Masonic Temple. As Italian styles grew in popularity, it was incorporated into corner duplexes, free-standing buildings, and properties with other architectural styles. Eventually, the term “Italianate” was used as a catch-all for the style’s decorative brackets.
Under the larger umbrella category of Victorian style is Queen Anne. The Queen Anne style appeared in Capitol Hill during the 1880s to the 1890s. Originally, they were created as a stand against excess décor. Today they’re known for their grand designs and structures. Queen Anne buildings unabashedly incorporated elements from preceding styles. This gave it an eclectic and whimsical look.
Originally, Queen Anne homes used a mixture of different materials. Wood shingles next to a stucco wall atop a brick foundation weren’t uncommon. Windows were typically double-hung sash style with a stained-glass accent. These tall and towering creations were asymmetrical due to towers, turrets, dormers, and ribbed chimneys. The interiors were as asymmetrical as the exterior. Capitol Hills’ influence on the style led to the use of pressed brick.
The Georgian Revival led the way into the 20th-century Revivalist Period. Homes in this style were built between 1870 and 1920. These properties are reinterpretations of the earlier Georgian, Colonial, and Federal (also known as Adam) styles. They’re marked by their use of red brick, white-painted paned windows, and sashed window design. These homes also have arched accent windows, classical details, and flat lintel openings with voussoirs.
The Modernistic style can be spotted in Capitol Hill buildings like the Penn Theatre and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Some generic apartment buildings also feature entrances with Modernistic touches. This style marks an interesting step away from the neighborhood’s historic and classically decorative architectural styles.
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*Header image courtesy of Frank Snodgrass