Herman A Wohlsen Mansion c1922 tudor revival

The Herman A. Wohlsen mansion, in the 900 block of Buchanan Avenue, is a Lancaster example of the Tudor Revival style. Designed in 1922 by C. Emlen Urban, the Wohlsen mansion has half-timber detailing, decorative quatrefoil and a clay tile roof.


Apparently, some revival styles don’t need to be revived. Tudor Revival is one of them. It never grows old or, seemingly, falls out of favor; its charm and allure appear to be timeless.

Perhaps the most recognizable of the revival styles, Tudor is also one of the most romantic styles. Characterized by steeply pitched, gabled roofs, prominent corbelled brick chimneys topped with clay pots, half-timber construction, red brick walls and bow windows with leaded glass, its stylized medieval details continue to draw the attention of passersby.

The nomenclature Tudor refers to the British Tudor royal dynasty that was in power between 1485 and 1603. Noted figures include King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. It was during this period in history that the architectural characteristics of the style emerged. The late 1800s saw a renewed interest in the features that were common 300 years earlier. British architect Richard Norman Shaw and designer William Morris began the revival movement.

The signature look of half-timber construction associated with Tudor Revival evolved over the centuries from utilizing true mortise and tenon squared timber authentic construction to simply applying the “look” of half timber, referred to as “mock Tudor.” In either case, both techniques involved filling the voids between the timbers with something — typically brick, plaster or pebbled stones.

Roofs were clad in slate or clay tiles. Windows had a steel casement-style sash with leaded glass; front doors were solid oak or mahogany with hand-wrought iron hinges and hardware. The interiors featured dark wood floors, wood paneled or plastered walls and, in some cases, wood ceilings were used. The overall impression was dark.

The Tudor Revival style was typically reserved for multistory mansions, residences, resorts and hotels. Rarely was it applied to institutional structures such as banks, civic buildings and churches.

Although World War II brought an end to the aggressive use of Tudor Revival in the United States, it continues to be one of the more popular styles among homeowners today. I guess romance never gets old!

Brecht Elementary School 4 Tudor Revival design

The Brecht Elementary School built in 1932 displays an elaborate brick chimney design with clay pots. Henry Y. Shaub was the architect.

Is there another name for Tudor Revival?

Yes. In Europe, it is referred to as Medieval Revival.

What is a “knee” in half-timber construction?

The knee refers to the curved diagonal member that crosses through the vertical members.

What is the difference between Tudor Revival Style and English Domestic Style?

Next month’s “Design Intervention” column will answer that question!

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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