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The Queen Anne Revival Style

What is Queen Anne Revival?  It is an architectural style that has very little to do with the English monarch Queen Anne or the style of buildings constructed during her reign, which lasted from 1702 to 1714.  The Queen Anne Revival is from the late Victorian era, and was most popular between 1890 and 1914.  It drew its inspiration from different eras and incorporated many things into its designs.  Occasionally referred to as "free Renaissance," the builders of Queen Anne Revival buildings generally focused on asymmetrical facades, steeply-pitched and irregular rooflines, front-facing gables, overhanging eaves, circular or square towers with turrets in corners, unusual windows, wraparound verandas, highly ornamented spindles, fish scale siding, detailed textures and bright colours. 

The style is difficult to define due to its eccentricities, and has been described as being exuberant and excessive, fanciful and flamboyant in outlook.  Though falling out of fashion in the first decades of the 20th century, the style seems to have made a comeback in popularity, perhaps because its iconic and accessible Victorianism has ingrained itself in the public consciousness.

Central Chambers, Parks Canada / l'Édifice-Central, Parcs CanadaMany Canadian historic places were designed in the Queen Anne Revival style. For example, a well-known Ottawa landmark, the Central Chambers National Historic Site (NHS) of Canada is an excellent example of a Queen Anne Revival commercial building.  This six-storey building was designed by Ottawa architect J. J. Browne for commercial and office space.

Central Chambers is located at the edge of the high profile Confederation Square NHS in Ottawa's downtown core.  Its rich colouration of materials includes red brick, terra cotta, white trim, and metal.  This accentuates the surfaces and textures that are an important feature of the Queen Anne Revival style.  Central Chambers also features a variety of windows, including ones of massive size at ground level that helped maximize merchandise displays and served to light office interiors.  Although other Queen Anne Revival commercial buildings exist in Canada, Central Chambers has one of the most distinctive and exceptional designs for the era. H. Vincent Meredith Residence, Parks Canada / La Résidence-H.-Vincent-Meredith, Parcs Canada

Of the many Queen Anne Revival houses, Montréal's two-and-a-half storey H. Vincent Meredith Residence NHS stands apart.  Situated within the "Golden Square Mile," this house was built in 1897 for Andrew Allen, a partner in the influential Allen Steamship Company.  An over-the-top architectural gem, it features a steep hipped roof with dormers and tall chimneys, a high, irregularly-shaped roofline, a whimsical composition, and a mixture of Venetian and lancet windows, and a round tower with conical roof.  This massive structure with its highly visible location on the side of a hill was designed to be a showy manifestation of late 19th century optimism, new wealth and power.

Charles Richards House, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage / Maison Charles Richards, Département de tourism, culture et patrimoine de la Nouvelle-ÉcosseAnother exceptional Queen Anne Revival home is the Charles Richards House in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  This place is significant because it is one of only two brick Queen Anne Revival houses in Nova Scotia.  Located within the Collins Heritage Conservation District, the house rises two-and-a-half storeys, is dominated by beautiful red brick, has an asymmetrical facade with a wrap-around veranda, a two-storey bay window, and steeply pitched roof.  Also worth noting are the veranda posts with spindlework ornamentation and decorative brackets, as well as the unusual brickwork under the eaves.

On the West Coast, the Campbell House in Vernon, British Columbia displays a modification of the more traditional Canadian Queen Anne Revival Campbell House, City of Vernon / Maison Campbell, ville de Vernonstyle.  Influenced by American Queen Anne Revival patterns, the builder of this house used fish-scale shingles, drop siding, and bay windows.  Also, this is a wood frame structure, not brick.  Yet it remains a conventional Queen Anne home, adopting elements such as a corner tower with a turret, double hung windows and decorative gables, large gables, and extensive verandas. Built in 1898, this visually eccentric house was owned for many years by the Campbell family, who operated a furniture store and a funeral business in Vernon.  This is the kind of house people might also now associate with a haunting Victorianism popularized in media culture since the release of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho.

Although many Queen Anne Revival buildings are found in residential areas, the style is not limited to Earl Grey School, Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism / École Earl Grey, Direction des resources historiques du gouvernement de Manitobahomes.  For example, Earl Grey School in downtown Winnipeg is a wonderful example of an institutional structure with Queen Anne Revival elements.  Instead of using the traditional red brick, architect James B. Mitchell chose salmon-coloured bricks.  This three-storey building has varied dormers and two projecting four-storey square towers which contribute to its interesting asymmetrical facade.  Decorative floral medallions can be found on the institutional inscription "The Earl Grey School," which are characteristic of Queen Anne Revival ornamentation. 

Queen Anne Revival buildings are an important part of our Canadian architectural heritage.  As we can see, the Queen Anne Revival style moved away from the sober classical decoration of earlier eras and instead promoted more flexible natural designs such as sunbursts and flower patterns, and the houses were either painted vibrant colours or had richly hued brickwork to emphasize the ornate details and textures.  The style is filled with exuberance, variation and asymmetry.  Though it fell out of fashion after 1914, it is worth noting that most of the original buildings have endured, and the style has again grown in popularity, even to the point where new houses in modern subdivisions are being constructed with a nod to Queen Anne Revival's more whimsical features.  There are hundreds of designated Queen Anne Revival buildings on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, and as part of our cultural heritage, they help reflect Canada's hopeful and joyful expansion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Mikel, Robert. Ontario House Styles: The Distinctive Architecture of the Province's 18th and 19th Century Homes. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2004.