The American Four Square

Feb 16, 2010

A practical, adaptable and livable home-grown original

Four-squares are the “little black dress” of American residential architecture – “an all-occasion favorite that’s appropriate in almost any setting” – and always managing to look stylish, according to a 2006 article in Old House Journal by architectural historians James Massey and Shirley Maxwell.

The typical four-square house had four rooms on the first floor and four on the second, and a generally cube-like overall structure. The entrance, reached through a generous projecting front porch, was often to one side, opening into a corner hall or room, from which the other rooms opened up. The corner hall avoided the darkness inherent in some center-hall layouts.

As a type, not a style (and not even given a name until the late 20th century), the foursquare could be rendered in Arts and Crafts, Prairie or Colonial Revival style, depending on the application of eave lines, window styles and patterns, and use of gables or dormers, and the type of exterior construction — brick, wood, stucco or even concrete block.

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Next Event

June 9, 2019, 1:00 PM

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

Juneteenth, an African American celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States, will be the focus of the June program in collaboration with the South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. The afternoon will include dancers, storytelling, a quilt display, musicians, activities for families and children, Civil War Colored Troop reenactors, as well as information about New Jersey’s history of slavery, which continued up until the time of the Civil War.

As part of the celebration, we are sponsoring a student essay contest on communications barriers between people of different races. All students in grades 6 through 12 who are residents of Maplewood or South Orange are eligible. Deadline is May 28. Read more information about the contest.

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