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Andrew Jackson Downing introduced the Swiss Chalet style to American architecture in his 1850 stylebook The Architecture of Country Houses. Adapted from traditional versions of Swiss chalets and cottages found in the European Alps for hundreds of years, American models possessed simplistic decorative elements and common building materials, making these homes less expensive to build.
Most Swiss chalets in the United States appeared between 1885 and 1915, with the style being more popular in some regions, such as Cincinnati. Numerous articles and books publicized the style in the 1910s, noting the Great Northern Railroad’s hotel and other chalet style construction in and near the Glacier National Park (designated a national park in 1910) between 1910 and 1915.
stone foundation and large stone chimneys
2 to 2 ½ stories
gabled roof with patterned bargeboards and exposed rafter or purlin ends often painted or with decorative carvings
ornamental cut shingles
wide eaves supported by oversized and/or decorative brackets
wood walls, often unpainted with open trusswork
Note: This style is not to be confused with chalet-influenced buildings found primarily in some Colorado mountain towns constructed between 1935 and 1965. The later buildings have some of the same elements as the Swiss Chalet style; however, they are more associated with the ski industry. Although reports and site forms have called these styles “Mountain Chalet” and “Ski Chalet”, the Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (OAHP) has not yet defined the name or described the style.