American Foursquare Homes

Foursquare homes began popping up all across the country, especially in urban areas closer to railroads. Learn more about how this home's characteristics and history.

Many Americans do not realize that the Foursquare style of home is partially inspired by the work of the famous American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The Foursquare home, often referred to as the ‘Prairie Box’ home mimics many of the characteristics of the Prairie style of architecture that Wright created.

The size and shape of the American Foursquare made it ideal for small city lots because the homes offered a larger amount of living space within a compact plot of land.

Characteristic of Foursquare Architecture

The design concept of the Foursquare home is fairly simple. These homes are cubic in shape with an overall compact, but spacious design that stands two and a half stories in height. Overall, the facade of the home is symmetrical. The front door is either centered, or off to one side. Windows are symmetrical to the placement of the door, and a centrally located bay window sits at the top.

The first floor consists of four rooms: the living room, the dining room, a kitchen and the entrance or foyer that also includes the stairway to the upper level. The second floor contained three bedrooms, as well as a bathroom. If the home included a basement, then the furnace could be found downstairs, as well as extra storage for the homeowner.

The exterior of the home varied by region. These homes could consist of wood siding, brick, or even stucco siding. Most recognizably, the Foursquare home includes a low-hipped roof.

Many of these homes were purchased through mail order home kits, such as those sold by Sears. This allowed each homeowner to put their own unique finishing touches on the design. Those with more money could add a large wrap-around porch, or perhaps a Queen Anne style bay window, and so forth. It was not uncommon for owners to add brackets to the low-hipped roof, or built-in cabinets to the interior of the home.

History of Foursquare Architecture

It is estimated that the Foursquare home began popping up in the late 1890s. The versatility of the shape allowed it to remain popular throughout the early 20th century and construction of the design continued well into the mid 1930s. The design of this Prairie Box home was economical because the shape made it relatively inexpensive to build.

Today, Foursquare homes can be seen in most states, especially in the Midwest. It is certain not uncommon to see entire neighborhoods consisting of this style of architecture, especially in older, urban areas close to railroads.