Styles Between the Wars

Between the World Wars, the Craftsman bungalow was the most popular house style and form for “regular folks.” But the larger houses of the period were designed in a variety of new styles. Only a few of these were built in Oakwood, which gradually found itself superseded in fashion by newer neighborhoods.

Because Oakwood was mostly developed before the automobile, it was divided into narrow lots, so that more people were within an easy walk (or at least an easy streetcar ride) of downtown. But after World War I, the wealthier folks all had cars, so they did not need to live so close. Therefore, the fashionable new neighborhoods of Cameron Park, Fairmont, and (above all) Hayes Barton, had the luxury of wider lots and wider houses. A popular house form in this period had a small central portico leading into a large foyer, with two large rooms on each side. There was an open porch on one side of the house and a sunroom on the other side, or at least one of these two features. These houses were, with few exceptions, the first in North Carolina without front porches since the log cabin!

In Cameron Park, Fairmont, and Hayes-Barton one can see many houses in this form, with various styles of ornamentation: Georgian Revival was the most popular, but Tudor Revival, Mediterranean, Dutch Colonial Revival, and Spanish Colonial Revival were also fashionable. Three of these styles made it into Oakwood. 311 N. Boundary St. (Chip and Jocelyn Wells) is in the Georgian Revival style. It has Classical details similar to Neoclassical Revival houses, but its simpler form and ornamentation is more similar to actual Georgian architecture of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Notice the fine portico and the dentil molding.

304 Polk St. (Elizabeth Harrigan) is in the Dutch Colonial Revival style. It also has details similar to the Neoclassical Revival, but the gambrel roof with the wide dormer distinguishes it as Dutch Colonial Revival. The room on the right side was originally an open porch. The stucco siding on the second story was a popular feature of the period. 309 Linden Ave. (Myles Nelligan & Sandy Scherer) is another good example; notice the diamond windowpanes, a legacy of the Neoclassical Revival. 624 N. East St. (Nancy & Barry Kitchener) is sided completely in stucco, and has dispensed with the Classical details. Although houses of this type throughout the country are called Dutch Colonial Revival, it is a bit of a misnomer; the houses built by the 17th-century Dutch colonists in what is now New York and New Jersey did have gambrel roofs, but were otherwise not much like these 1920s houses. They had no Classical details, and their gambrel roofs usually had flared eaves.

408 E. Lane St. (Stella Barnes) is in the Mediterranean style. It is distinguished by a shallowly-pitched hip roof with very deep eaves, an arched front door, and brick siding. This is a fairly simple expression of the style. In Hayes-Barton one can find more elaborate versions, with arched windows, tile roofs, and wrought-iron and terra cotta details. These houses were inspired by the villas of southern France and northern Italy.

All of these houses have similar floor plans, as described above. Builders frequently offered this same floor plan in a choice of styles.