Like the Bungalow and Craftsman styles, the Foursquare was built to be simple and practical in comparison to delicate Victorian and Queen Anne houses. Offering a sturdy, simple home that was popular with the American middle class from as early as the 1890s until the 1930s, the Foursquare often featured elements of Craftsman architecture and/or the Prairie Style popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The square design was especially practical for small, square city lots, though the Foursquare was popular in the countryside as well. The Foursquare and its contemporaries such as Craftsman bungalows were the most common style of “mail-order” homes shipped by Sears Roebuck, Aladdin, and other kit house companies.
What To Look For:
The name of the style highlights its most recognizable feature: a very square or “boxy” appearance. The typical house was either 30×30 feet, or 30×36 feet, for deeper lots; two and a half stories; a hipped roof, providing a large attic that was livable due to at least one dormer (in the front), with up to two more on the sides – creating more living space & allowing more light to enter.
The front porch usually spanned the entire front of the house. The front door was often offset, unless the four-room plan was adjusted to the sides in favor of a central hallway. The overall orientation of the Foursquare was mostly horizontal due to the long roof lines and the overhanging eaves of each roof. The interior usually featured four more or less equally-sized rooms on each floor (except the attic). The Foursquare was also commonly built with the same type of woodwork found inside Craftsman style homes.