This online guide is intended to complement the Field Guide to Colorado's Historic Architecture & Engineering. It is for users needing a quick reference with other relevant web links. Categories are organized as Materials, Styles, Forms and Special Use Types.
The railroad entered the San Luis Valley by the early 1880s and opened the door for migrating Anglo-Americans. Many emigrants from the East Coast and Midwest brought with them the central passage plan.
Jacal construction typifies the earliest residential structures in the southern San Luis Valley. The single or dual room jacal had an interior corner fireplace, an exterior door, and one or two windows. As owners enlarged their jacales to accommodate extended families, a series of side-by-side single file rooms with separate entryways and privacy walls developed, creating a single file linear configuration.
Sod structures date from the early days of settlement in the 1860s through the Depression-era of the 1930s. It was generally considered an inexpensive and very effective method of construction in a plains environment.
Art Deco is characterized by an angular, linear composition, stepped or set-back facade, and polychromatic materials. Popular during the 1930s and 1940s, apartment buildings, school, and commercial buildings all over Colorado exhibit elements of this style.
The steeply pitched gable or hip roof and multiple towers with conical roofs define the Châteauesque style. Dormers with shaped gabled and paired windows divided by mullions and transoms are also common characteristics.
There are three types of Colonial Revival buildings in Colorado: "historically accurate" reproductions of the 17th century Georgian and Federal style; Colonial or Classical elements applied to basically Victorian or Post-Victorian buildings; and very simple houses with a few Colonial details.
The Craftsman style structure emerged from the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, a philosophy which stressed comfort and utility through the use of natural materials and a lack of pretension.
Car-oriented restaurant architecture that developed in California, especially in Los Angeles after World War I, served as the forerunner of the Googie style, also called Doo Wop or Coffee Shop Modern. Simple roadside drive-in stands evolved into more complex facilities designed to attract and serve large numbers of car-driving customers.
The Jacobean/Elizabethan style is characterized by a steeply pitched roof with intersecting gables or dormers, round arched entrance, and decorative brickwork. Generally, residential structures were built between 1920 and 1940 and are of brick, stone or stucco.
The Prairie style, developed and popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright, sought to reflect the rolling Midwestern prairie. What emerged was a style characterized by an emphasis on horizontality, particularly exemplified by low, flat rooflines and extended overhangs.
Queen Anne is perhaps the most ornate style of the Victorian period evident in Colorado. Popular between 1880 and 1910, the style varies from the highly decorative to a more restrained version found in many residential neighborhoods.
Rustic style architecture is characterized by its natural setting and its use of log and stone for building materials. Designed to blend in with the natural environment, these structures are usually vacation homes, hunting lodges, dude ranches, or tourist-related facilities.
The Bi-Level came into popularity in the early 1960s as a variation of the ranch type. The raised or garden level basement makes the lower level more livable by allowing the lower windows to be larger and above grade.
The Swedish-born Chicago engineer Carl Standlund (1899-1974) founded the Lustron Corporation in 1946 in response to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) support of pre-fabricated, high-volume home construction.
These simple homes were built in large numbers immediately preceding and following World War II; this form represented an economical choice for large tract-housing developments because they were inexpensive to construct.
The false front commercial building type is an icon of the urban pioneer West. When movie directors or theme park designers erect a typical western town, the false front commercial building usually plays a prominent role.
When major residential streets become heavy with automobile traffic, development pressure may result in the transformation of these corridors into commercial strips. Such development most often cause the demolition of the existing housing stock. However, in some cases, the housing is adapted to meet commercial and retail needs through the construction of commercial storefront additions.
While the Work Projects Administration is known for a wide variety of public architecture, one of their more prolific programs was a health-related campaign to provide sanitary privies, particularly in rural areas.