- [m2] American Foursquare houses date from 1895 to the 1930s and are so named for their boxy shape and four-part floor plan. These houses were typically simpler and more economical than the Victorian homes of previous years. They were normally of a wood frame and clapboard construction, but brick foursquare homes were also sometimes built, and more elegant versions were constructed with rich interior woodwork and other Arts and Crafts features. By the early 1900s, for the first time in history, cheaper land and construction materials offered most Americans the opportunity to own their own home. The square houses had two-and-a-half stories, a hipped roof with a central dormer, and a front porch. Inside, the floor plan was divided into four smaller squares; the typical ground floor consisted of an entrance foyer and stairwell, which moves clockwise to a living room, then the dining room, separated by an arched entry, and a kitchen behind the entrance foyer. The second story was similarly divided to include three bedrooms and a bath-room.The most interesting feature of the foursquare homes is the fact that they could be purchased through mail-order catalogues such as Sears Roebuck or the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan, and all precut parts and an instruction booklet would arrive on a boxcar to be assembled by local carpenters. Foursquare homes were therefore popular in suburban settings that featured small, square lots and were located near the railways. The Aladdin "Built in a Day" House Catalog from 1917 features over 60 homes costing from $300 to around $2,000, each named and detailed with floor plans, drawings, and interior and exterior photographs. The simple "Herford" foursquare house cost $836.00, while the "Suburban," which cost $1,075.40, was four feet wider than the Herford and featured a more sharply gabled, shingled roof, exposed rafters, and cornice brackets. The mass production of these popular homes ultimately transformed the urban landscape of the United States in the first two decades of the 20th century.
Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. Allison Lee Palmer. 2008.
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