French Style Architecture became popular in America after soldiers returned from World War I, having seen a new style of housing in Europe. At the time, many magazines and books were published with plans for homes in the French style, and many American architects began to incorporate these new details into their homes. French Style Architecture included such characteristics as, arched doorways, round towers at the entryway, dormers and multi-paned windows. The style also sometimes featured hipped roofs, flared eaves and decorative half-timbering as well as stone or brick siding.
General characteristics of a French style home included a raised basement which would support the floor of the home's primary living quarters. Exterior stairs were another common element; the stairs would often climb up to a distinctive, full-length porch, on a home's front facade. The porch roof was normally part of the overall roof and were often accessed via French doors.
Elmer Grey designed many Pasadena landmarks in the early half of the twentieth century, and his designs often reflected a French style. He designed a number of Beaux Arts houses in the city. Beaux Arts was a neoclassical architectural style, that was originally taught at the Ã‰cole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This style often featured such classical details as arched windows, arched and pedimented doors, a flat roof and an overarching feeling of symmetry. Even when the structures were small, they gave a grand appearance, because of the Classical architectural details of the Beaux Arts style.
There are several different styles of French Style Architecture that can still be seen today, particularly in Pasadena, California. Second empire, French colonial and French creole cottages are just three examples of French Style Architecture. Perhaps the most famous example of the French influence in Pasadena architecture is the Fenyes Mansion, designed by architect, Robert Farquar. The Fenyes family home was built as a Beaux Arts Mansion in 1906, far earlier than most of the French Style homes in California. With its round towers and flat roof, the Fenyes Mansion stood out in California due to its French look. Today, the grand house still stands and it houses the Pasadena Museum of History.
Many of these lovely structures can still be seen in Pasadena, California, there are even houses on the market that feature French Style Architecture. The eclecticism of Pasadena's architecture gives one a sense of history. No matter what style of French Architecture you are looking for in Pasadena, you are sure to find it.
See a sampling of Pasadena French homes below.