Home ARCHITECTURE Styles

Prairie Eclectic House (1900-1920)

Reference: A Field Guide to American Houses, Virginia & Lee McAlester, 1984.

Prairie is one of the few indigenous American styles. It is part of the first phase, the Arts and Crafts movement, of the Modern tradition of architecture. This style began in Chicago under the leadership of Frank Lloyd Wright. The American Foursquare, a subtype, “has a simple square or rectangular plan, low-pitched hipped roof, and symmetrical façade. One-story wings, porches, or carports are clearly subordinate to the principal two-story mass. The entrance, which may be centered or off-center, is a conspicuous focal point of the façade. This was the earliest Prairie form and developed into the most common vernacular version. In vernacular examples, hipped dormers are common, as are full-width, single —story front porches and double-hung sash windows. Many show Mission or Italian Renaissance secondary details, such as tiled roofs or cornice-line brackets.

Another subtype of the Prairie is the gabled roof where gables replace the hipped roof. “High-style examples typically have both front-facing and side gables, each with exaggerated eave overhangs. . . the pitch of the roof edges may also be flattened to give a pagoda-like effect. Vernacular examples usually have simple front- or side-gabled roofs. Tudor secondary influences are common, particularly false half-timbering in gables. The Kansas City “Shirtwaist” is a regional adaptation of the gable Prairie subtype. The shirtwaist house is entirely wood frame construction, with the first and second floor exteriors clad in different material. The first floor was usually stone or brick with the second floor clapboard, stucco, or shingles. The upper story flares out to meet the first floor, much like the dress style popular when the term was coined.

3800 Campbell Street and 810 Gleed Terrace are excellent examples of the Prairie style.

3800 Campbell Street
3800 Campbell

3305 Campbell Street, 3703 Holmes Street, and 4416 Campbell are all variations of the Kansas City Shirtwaist.

3305 Campbell Street
3305 Campbell

3703 Holmes Street
3703 Holmes Street

4416 Campbell Street
4416 Campbell Street