Architectural Styles

The following is a listing of the architectural styles found in Markham. The buildings on the Register of Property of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest are identified using these architectural style terms.

Georgian Tradition (1795-1860)

Georgian Tradition buildings were built throughout the 1800's in Markham. The style is based on the Georgian Architecture of Great Britain that developed in the 1700's and early 1800's. To the homesick settler, it was a welcome reminder of the civilization they left on the other side of the Atlantic or the United States. The windows and doors are most often arranged and sized according to strict symmetry and proportion. The windows are usually multi-paned and rectangular in shape. Georgian tradition homes are often simply detailed and unadorned, and depend on their proportioning and symmetry for their air of restrained dignity.

Neoclassical (1815-1840)

The Neoclassical style was built on Georgian precedents of symmetry, simplicity of form and a formal system of proportion. The Neoclassical originated in England in the mid-1700s, but did not appear in Canada until the 1810s. Ornament was based on the buildings of ancient Rome, but interpreted in a lightly-proportioned and stylized way. The semi-elliptical fanlight over the front door is a defining feature, along with large, multi-paned double-hung windows, a low-pitched gable roof with eave returns, and a one and a half to full two storey height. Locally, the front door typically lacks the fanlight but instead has sidelights within a Classical door surround with narrow pilasters and an entablature with finely-proportioned mouldings.

Regency (1820-1840)

The Regency style of architecture was brought to Canada by retired British officers who had served in the Mediterranean and Far East in the early to mid 1800's. The style has its roots in Georgian architecture often having a symmetrical façade and a rectangular floor plan combined with a strong horizontal emphasis. The style features architectural details common to houses in hot climates like high ceilings, hipped roofs, deep eaves, and French doors walking out onto tent like verandas with bell-cast roofs and delicate treillage posts.

Ontario Cottage (1820-1880)

The Ontario Cottage is form of Regency architecture typical to Ontario that is usually one storey in height or sometimes found built into a hillside having a walk-out basement. Rectangular in plan, Ontario Cottages feature classic Regency design features including deep eaves, hipped roofs, bell-cast veranda roofs with treillage posts symmetrically arranged as in Georgian architecture.

Classic Revival (1840-1870)

Classic Revival buildings are firmly rooted in the Georgian tradition of architecture being rectangular in plan, symmetrically organized and capped with a moderately pitched gable roof. However, these buildings feature decorative architectural elements that are based upon studies of the ancient architecture of classical Greece and Rome. Classic Revival homes feature robust classical decoration in the form of quoining, returned eaves, heavy friezes, dentil mouldings, and prominent entrances featuring panelled sidelights and reveals, flat headed transoms, and an entablature supported by pilasters.

Gothic Revival (1860-1880)

Gothic Revival architecture developed as a reaction to the restrained rational Georgian architecture that dominated the 1700's and early 1800's. The style was an architectural expression of the Romantic Movement in literature and the arts that flowered in the mid 1800's. The defining features of Gothic Revival architecture is a steeply pitched roof and the pointed arched window. Pure examples of the style often feature a rambling plan with distinct wings to create a picturesque composition of architectural elements. The style often exhibits exuberant architectural decoration including, lacy gingerbread hanging from the eaves and verandas, kingposts, brackets, finials and hood moulds over the windows. The style is associated with church architecture and was considered to be a purely British form although it developed concurrently in several northern European countries in the medieval period.

Italianate (1860-1880)

Italianate architecture sprouted from the same Romantic Movement that Gothic Revival architecture did in the mid 1800's. The style is based on rural architecture of Renaissance Italy and exhibits architectural features typical of more southerly climes. These include shallow to moderately pitched roofs with deep overhanging eaves supported by robust brackets, tall slender semicircular and segmental arched windows, verandas, louvered shutters and classical detailing. Floor plans of Italianate houses tend to be irregular like Gothic Revival buildings in order to create a picturesque composition. Some Italianate houses feature a tower reminiscent of the campaniles once used to spot invaders of the Italian fortified country towns.

Second Empire (1870-1890)

Second Empire Architecture has its roots in 18th century France and is distinguished by the use of a mansard roof with dormers, sometimes decorated with cast iron roof cresting. The shape of the mansard roof can be concave, convex or a combination of both forms. Other than the roof, the style is very similar to Italianate architecture in its use of irregular floor plans, rounded arched windows, paired windows, classical detailing, verandas and roof brackets.

Ontario Classic (1860-1900)

The Ontario Classic house is hybrid between Georgian Traditional architecture and Gothic Revival Architecture. In fact, many earlier 1 ½ storey Georgian Tradition and Classic Revival homes were modified and updated by adding a central gable and an upper storey gothic window in the 1850's and 1860's. By the late 1800's, thousands of houses were being newly constructed in this fashion with increasingly steeper roofs. The style became so prevalent throughout Ontario that it has been nick named "Ontario Classic" or the "Ontario Classic Farmhouse". Simple and Practical, these homes are usually rectangular or T-shaped in plan. The front is usually symmetrically laid out with a central entrance door. The central second storey window provided light to the upper hall and staircase. These homes can be found heavily decorated or almost unadorned but their sheer numbers have made them emblematic of the Ontario landscape.

Queen Anne Revival (1880-1915)

Of all the late Victorian Styles, Queen Anne Revival houses are the most elaborate and complicated in design. Loosely based on the architecture of Medieval and Renaissance England, these houses feature steep roofs, bay windows, dormers, turrets, multi-paned and stained glass windows, elaborate verandas with turned wooden posts, patterned shingles and decorative brackets and spandrels. Floor plans are almost always irregular and asymmetrical using several different materials creating diverse textures. This style was expensive to build and maintain and is usually found on larger more expensive two and two and a half storey homes. The one storey form is most common, but 1 ½ and 2 storey examples are sometimes seen.

Vernacular (All Periods)

Vernacular architecture borrows design elements from various architectural styles often making it difficult to categorize. It is not really a style with formal rules of design, but rather a result of local culture, climate, materials, economy and technology that came together to make an architecture that is distinct to a certain place and time period. Vernacular buildings are generally not architect designed, but were rather the product of local builders drawing inspiration from pattern books and knowledge of high-style buildings.

Edwardian Classical (1900-1935)

Edwardian Classicism was a reaction to the decorative excess of the late Victorian style revivals that flourished in the late 1800's. Edwardian Classical houses are usually box-like in their massing and a full two storeys tall. They are largely devoid of exterior ornament with the exception of generous verandas which often feature stout classical columns and chunky railings. Hipped roofs with pressed brick clad dormers are common on Edwardian houses as well as one-over-one windows, picture windows, and decorative leaded glass.

Arts and Crafts (1910-1930)

Arts and Crafts buildings exhibit a strong horizontal emphasis. They are usually devoid of any applied ornamentation, but utilize exposed structural elements such as rafters and beams to create visual interest. The massing is typically asymmetrical and picturesque, often blanketed with an extensive low pitched roof with deep overhangs. Arts and Crafts houses are typically clad with a variety of materials that lend a rustic feel to the exterior such as rough brick, stucco, wood, and cedar shingles.

Colonial Revival (1930-1955)

The Colonial Revival is primarily a 20th century style that recalls the dwellings of 18th century New England. In Canada, this style is sometimes called Georgian Revival. The Colonial Revival was especially popular for suburban homes constructed in the years immediately following World War II. Typical characteristics of this style include a Georgian sense of symmetry, frame construction, rectangular plan, wide clapboard siding, medium-pitched gable roof with shallow eaves, and small-paned double-hung windows.

Dutch Colonial Revival (1910-1930)

Dutch Colonial homes have the same design features and characteristics of Colonial Revival homes, but they are distinguished by the use of a gambrel roof like that of traditional barns.

Collegiate Gothic (1910-1930)

The Collegiate Gothic style, a version of the Neo-Gothic, was used for many larger elementary school, high school and university buildings in Ontario from the 1910s to the 1920s. Typical building materials are brick, with Indiana limestone accents. The style features medieval architectural details such as pointed arches, Tudor arches, banks of mullioned windows, buttresses, stone copings and battlement-style parapet walls applied to a flat-roofed modern institutional building form. The Milliken Public School is the only example of the Collegiate Gothic style of institutional architecture in Markham.

Chateauesque (1910-1930)

Chateauesque architecture is based on the lavish architecture of Chateaus built in the 1500's in the Loire Valley of France. In Canada, the style was employed on grand Federal Government buildings and mansions of the very rich. Markham has only one known Chateauesque style building located on Langstaff Avenue. This modest one storey house nevertheless features Chateauesque features such as stucco walls with brick quoining, a steeply pitched hipped roof and a croisette or cross window featuring glass with etched designs of fleur-de-lis.

Tudor Revival (1910-1940)

The Tudor Revival is a 20th century style that was inspired by rural cottages and country houses of England's Tudor period. False half-timbered on a background of stucco is the most characteristic feature. The ground floor is usually of brick or stone, contrasting with an upper storey of stucco. Typical design elements include steep gable roofs, sometimes ornamented with solid bargeboards, tall brick or stone chimneys and banks of casement windows, sometimes with leaded glass. The placement of doors and windows is often asymmetrical, and the plan outline is irregular.

Cape Cod (1930-1955)

The Cape Cod style of architecture usually applies to residential architecture constructed in the years immediately before and after the Second World War. The style is usually compact and rectangular with a steep roof and a central chimney. The style is derived from American Colonial architecture of the 1700's and features rectangular multi-paned windows, shallow eave overhangs, and horizontal clapboard siding. However, the facades of Cape Cod houses can sometimes be asymmetrical unlike the rigidly symmetrical facades of their Colonial Georgian ancestors.