Eastern Stick

1 Jul

Evolving out of the Carpenter Gothic, the Stick Style flourished in the mid- and late-19th century. It reached its height of popularity with Richard Morris Hunt’s houses in Newport, Rhode Island, in the 1870s.

Hunt  was one of many American architects influenced by a mid-19th-century European revival of late-medieval rustic country architecture, most notably the gingerbread-ornamented chalets of the Alps and the half-timbered cottages of Normandy and Tudor England. He was exposed to Europe’s architecture while studying at the most prestigious school of architecture in the Western world, L’Ecole Des beaux Arts in Paris, the first American to do so.

The asymmetrical composition of the Eastern Stick style is highlighted by functional-appearing decorative “stick work.” The style is defined primarily by decorative detailing — the characteristic multi-textured wall surfaces and roof trusses whose stickwork faintly mimics the exposed structural members of Medieval half-timbered houses. This is in contrast to earlier Gothic Revival that used the wall surface as a plane with decorative detail applied at the doors, windows, or cornices.

The emphasis on patterned wood walls seen in the Stick style was still further developed in the succeeding Queen Anne style.

Although proponents lauded the structural honesty of Stick style, the visible stickwork, unlike true half-timbering, was merely applied decoration with no structural relation to the underlying balloon-frame construction.

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