LANCASTER IN STYLE, PART 14: EDWARDIAN STYLE, 1901-1914

The death of Queen Victoria in 1901 quickly ended the world’s interest in Victorian-style architecture.

Her son, King Edward VII, succeeded the queen and advocated for elite high fashion and design that was more sophisticated than in the past. Author Samuel Haynes described the Edwardian era as a “leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag.”

The Edwardian influence was evident from 1901 to the beginning of World War I. This era was skillfully portrayed in the recent PBS “Downton Abbey” series.



Unlike Victorian architecture, Edwardian architecture tends to be less ornate and more sophisticated. Details are taut and well thought out.

The four characteristics common to Edwardian design are the treatment of bay windows, dormers, porches and entry surrounds.

Broad bay and oriel windows are framed in wide-cut sandstone trim and often “stitched” into the surrounding brick walls creating a sawtooth effect.

The bay windows are typically topped with a decorative railing or masonry battlements.

East Vine Street Edwardian 1

This example of Edwardian style on East Vine Street, built circa 1910, has  pronounced oriel windows and taut details.

The dormers are trimmed with a decorative vergeboard, and the infill above the window is often half-timber with pebble stucco.

The porches are an important design element in the Edwardian style, to express wealth and position in the community. The porch detailing is less ornate than Queen Anne but equally impressive.

100 block of North Duke Street -- Edwardian 2

Edwardian style can be found in the 100 block of North Duke Street, in this former Breneman residence, circa 1900. It has buff brick, cut-stone interlocking window trim and stepped gables.

The main entry is frequently emphasized with an elaborate stone surround featuring interlocking voussoirs to form an impressive arch for a good first impression. Although red brick was the material of choice for the exterior walls, buff or beige brick became popular as cities were cleaner, and less soot covered the building facades and trim.

The Edwardian style and influence is easy to recognize if you look for buildings that have a royal “British” personality to their appearance. Lancaster County is fortunate to have several fine examples in the city and surrounding communities to enjoy.

What is a voussoir?

It is a wedge-shaped stone used to construct an arch. The keystone is located at the center and the springer blocks are located at the base.

What is a vergeboard?

The vergeboard or “bargeboard” is a decorative wood trim board attached to the gable of a roof or dormer to provide strength and protection to roof framing.

Why does Lancaster County have Edwardian-styled buildings?

Famed Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban traveled to Europe and was influenced by their charm and beauty. His reference books are evidence of that.

This column is contributed by Gregory J. Scott, FAIA, a local architect with more than four decades of national experience in innovation and design. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. Email GScott@rlps.com.

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