Craftsman Architecture

by Anthony Grumbine
Harrison Design Associates, Architects [ www.harrisondesignassociates.com ]

Fundamental to the Victorian era of the 1800ís was the ability to mass-produce decorative ornaments through the machinery and distribution of the Industrial Revolution. However, this mass production necessarily resulted in a loss of handcraftsmanship. No longer was the individual artist creating a unique and personalized element. The machine had won the day.

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Reacting to this shift in culture, the Arts and Crafts movement formed in England and soon spread to the United States. The Craftsman movement - as it became in the United States - proposed local, natural materials, simplicity of forms, originality, and the hand-crafted detail. 1901 saw the first issue of The Craftsman magazine published by Gustav Stickley, a strong proponent of Craftsman furniture, textiles, and architecture. Architects such as Greene and Greene in Pasadena, and David Owen Dryden in San Diego championed the Craftsman style, helping it to become the most popular style of the early 1900ís.

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A Change in Form

Architecturally, this change in principles translated into changes in form. Rather than the tall, complex and steep roofs of the Victorian house, the Craftsman roof became low-sloped and simple. Instead of intricate cornice moldings that decorated the eaves of Victorian houses, the Craftsman had large, exposed eaves with rafter tails adding subtle details to the simple form.

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The Craftsman used natural materials such as wood and stone, and complimented these with an earth-toned color palette. Unlike the mitered moldings of the Victorian houses, Craftsmen window and door moldings express basic post and beam construction by extending the lintel molding slightly past the posts on either side. As well, porch columns of Craftsman architecture followed the lower, more horizontal proportions of the overall house. Basic details such as these helped set the Craftsman apart from other architecture styles.




A Change in Function

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The Craftsman also came at a time of subtle, yet important social change. The Victorian house, with its separate servantsí quarters, separate servantsí dining area, and separate servantsí stair was designed for distinctly upper-class living that depended on a house run by servants. This was soon to change.

The Craftsman house was predominantly designed for the middle class family. Smaller and much more efficient than its Victorian predecessors, the Craftsman house spread throughout the country. Built-in cabinetry and a more open floor plan provided a compact design that still had opportunities for beautiful carpentry detailing. Beauty and efficiency met in the Craftsman house.



Craftsman in Town

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In Santa Barbara the Craftsman house enjoyed a popularity that can still be seen today. From the small Bungalow to the large, almost grandiose house, Craftsman architecture thrived in Santa Barbara. Even Greene and Greene designed a house in town. In recent years, the popularity of Craftsman architecture in Santa Barbara has seen a resurgence, with many residences built in this style.

Although Santa Barbara is known predominantly for its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, it is not from any one style that this town gets its beauty. The Craftsman style, like those styles before it, has helped make Santa Barbara one of the most desirable places to live in the world.

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