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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