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Stick Style 1860-1890


The best example of the Stick Style is also one of the earliest: the Art Association of Newport, RI, designed by Richard Morris Hunt in 1863. The distinctive beam patterning is clearly seen in the exterior walls, and the integrated porch is also characteristic.







The best example of Stick Style architecture in Worcester, Massachusetts' is located on Fruit Street. The stickwork in the dormers and porch gables is typical but it is the horizontal and vertical simulated beam patterns that identify the style. Note the paired windows with hoods and cornice brackets. Machine-sawn woodwork was inexpensive and used to full advantage.













Stick Style houses often have sawn decoration high up in the gable. These geometric patterns give Stick Style its name, but the key to identifying this style is the pattern of heavier wood trim on the exterior wood walls suggesting an internal structure of posts and beams. These run horizontally, vertically, and, less often, diagonally. They frame windows - often set in pairs - and doors, sills, wall edges and roof lines. These houses are wood frame with clapboarding between the simulated beams. Steep gables rise from side walls resulting in cross-gabled roofs with tall chimneys. Facades are asymmetrical and floor plans are complex. Elaborate porches with stick work will be present and sets of windows will usually be topped by a small hood.

    Whitinsville Stick Style    

An adaptive reuse property, this mill-owner's house built in 1875 in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, shows all the Stick Style refinements. Like the others it is asymmetrical, with overhanging roof lines, stickwork, paired windows, false framing and porches. Complex floor plans were made possible by balloon framing - lightweight structural members rather than a frame of heavy timbers - which is found in all post-Civil War house construction.(The porch glazing is modern.)















Decorative detail is loosely drawn from Gothic sources, never classical, but represents the creative use of the scroll saw, primarily. Colors are varied and usually several are used to pick out walls, trim and details. Darker colors were favored originally, but today the "painted ladies" are done in all colors.

The inspiration for Stick is English Gothic of the Victorian age, seen in dark brick public buildings with tall towers and Gothic trim. These were influenced by the English art critic John Ruskin whose architectural theories were widely read. The Stick Style carried his ideas into domestic architecture.