Tudor Revival architecture is a popular and easily recognizable 20th-century architectural style found throughout the United States. Inspired by English Tudor style from the late Medieval period, American Tudor Revival architecture borrows elements of the original style to channel a fantasy version of English country life in centuries past. Examples of Tudor Revival range from sprawling stone manor houses to half-timbered suburban homes to storybook thatched-roof cottages.
History of Tudor Revival
The origin story of Tudor Revival architecture can be traced all the way back to the building styles of the late Medieval period, when the legendary English House of Tudor dynasty reigned (1485-1603). Like the Tudor architecture of old, Tudor Revival combines Renaissance and Gothic design elements to create a style that is best known for signature details such as half-timbering, steeply pitched roofs, and asymmetrical design.
Tudor Revival architecture became popular in the UK (where it is commonly referred to as “mock Tudor”) in the late 19th century and spread to former British colonies such as New Zealand and Singapore. In the United States, Tudor Revival came into fashion around 1895, peaked in the 1920s and 30s, and fizzled out in 1945, giving way to simpler, less expensive post-war housing types such as Cape Cod-style homes. It coincided with the early 20th-century Arts and Crafts movement and its rejection of Victorian ornament and industrialization, and a nostalgia for excellent craftsmanship and simpler times.
While Tudor Revival style is sometimes referred to in the U.S. simply as Tudor, the American spin on the English style often swaps a traditional Tudor look for red brick, adding ornate detailing around windows, chimneys, and entryways. American Tudor Revival homes are also known for having a more prominent front gable. And modern building methods meant that the distinctive half-timber beams on Tudor Revivals were no longer structural, but merely ornamental.
Tudor Revivals remain a beloved home style today for lovers of historic homes, with 20th-century examples still standing in various neighborhoods around the country from the suburbs of New York City to Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Tudor Revival is a well loved style and a small number of new construction Tudor Revival style homes are still being built today.
Key Characteristics of Tudor Revival
- Range in scope from modest cottages to suburban houses to sprawling manor-like homes
- One to two stories, often with an overhanging second story
- Use of natural materials
- Stone, brick, or stucco exteriors
- Half-timbered exterior walls with wooden beams often stained or painted dark brown to mimic the naturally aged darkened oak wood used in the Tudor era
- Asymmetrical forms
- Multiple gables and eaves which with irregular floor plans give the house a look of having been assembled and remodeled over time
- Tall, multi-pane windows, often leaded glass with diamond-shaped panes
- Use of arches including signature Tudor pointed arches on doorways and windows
- Steeply pitched roofs
- Cross gables
- Shingled roofs
- Large-scale stone or brick chimneys that sometimes include multiple flues
- Original Tudor Revival interiors often include grand entry halls, sweeping wooden staircases, large fireplaces, wood-paneled walls, dark wood beams, door and wall frames, wide plank oak flooring, and wall treatments designed to mimic aged plaster
Interesting Facts About Tudor Revival
The most identifiable Tudor homes have charming and distinctive half-timber detailing that was originally the result of the Tudor building method of constructing a timber frame for a new home before filling it in with clay or plaster, leaving the long vertically placed dark wooden beams visible. But the timber detailing on Tudor Revivals is merely ornamental, a decorative flourish that pays homage to the original.
“Stockbroker Tudors” are the colorful nickname given to houses built in wealthy suburbs in the 1920s by newly rich Americans striving to create an image of Old World gravitas.
The Tudor City neighborhood on the east side of Manhattan was constructed by real estate developer Fred F. French in the 1920s at the height of the Tudor Revival boom. Said to be the first residential high-rise complex in the world, it applied Tudor architectural elements and detailing such as friezes, turrets, and Gothic windows to standard boxy NYC brick apartment buildings to appeal to the same professionals who were flocking to live in Tudor Revival homes in NYC suburbs. Located within walking distance of Midtown and near Grand Central, some of its residents were executives who lived in the city during the work week and went home to their suburban Tudor Revival homes on the weekend.