Home>Discussions>YOUR HOME>House Styles>Info on American Foursquare?
16 posts / 0 new
Last post
Info on American Foursquare?

I recently purchased a 1903 American Foursquare, but I really can't find any resources other than the usual "Sears sold these kits".

Does anyone know of a book that covers only American Foursquare houses?
Thanks so much

Re: Info on American Foursquare?
Re: Info on American Foursquare?

Hi Jack,
Thanks for your reply and your suggestions.
I have found that the guides usually only have a paragraph or so about foursquares.
I would be very interested in the other book you suggested but I'm not sure I can find it.
Anyway, I'll keep looking.

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

I'm not sure if you're still searching for information, but I'm sure you've realized that it's incredibly difficult to find any real information about the Foursquare. I'm currently writing my thesis on this style and have had to put together the puzzle from many different sources. If you're still interested in information and can be a little more specific about what you'd like to know, I'd be more than happy to share my bibliography with you or point you in the right direction.

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

Hi Confetticollette,

I'd love to see your bibliography if you wouldn't mind...we just purchased a 1913 Foursquare and are looking for more info as well. :) I was going to head for our downtown library and start hitting the books but if you already have a good list put together it would sure help us out! I'd just REALLY like to know what more of the original features (interior AND exterior) would've been like in one of these classic homes. Thanks so much for any info!

confetticollette wrote:

If you're still interested in information and can be a little more specific about what you'd like to know, I'd be more than happy to share my bibliography with you or point you in the right direction.

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

What a great thread !

I am fascinated with history.

I would like to hear more.

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

Hi Brooksidekc!
It's still a work in progress, but I can definitely send it on. I guess the best way would be for you to message me your email address?
I'd love for you to help me out a little, too, by providing me your opinions on the layout of your Foursquare. Part of my thesis is determining whether or not this style of house would be a economical housing alternative for today's home buyers. A few of the questions I've been asking are: What do you like about the house? Have you made any structural changes to accommodate your needs? What do you dislike about the house? and How long have you been living in your Foursquare?

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

We purchase our 1913 foursquare over two years ago and I too went on a search for the perfect historical inspiration. The most valuable info I discovered is that it is a blending of styles. Primarily...
Frank Lloyd Wright - Prairie architecture and victorian.
Which is probably why I liked it so much because those are a few of my favorite styles. Plus it means you can be even a bit more creative in your renovations while still keeping in style.

to confetticollette, if you want even more feedback.

Here's what I love about our foursquare.

1. Big Rooms. Yes only four per floor but big.
2. Use of space. None is wasted.
3. Windows. Everywhere. On all sides of the house. Let the sunshine in.
4. The Stairs. They piggy back each other. No small wasted spaces.
5. Flow. There is a wonderful energy flow in this house.
6. Big Front Porch. Need I say more.
7. Hip Roof and Dormers. I just like they way they look.
8. The mix of prairie and victorian is perfect. The majority of the house is simple clean square without any fussy moldings but it has lovely big bay windows on one side.
9. Hardwood. Everywhere but the bathrooms.
10. Big Basement. Big with window. Lots of storage and the perfect messy workspace.
11. Nice size closets. Rare for an old house. I am sure they were added.

Here's what we have done to make it more fantastic.

1. Refinished the Walk up Attic for a Living Space with tons of storage in the knee walls.

2. Plumbed in a bathroom on the third floor. With cash in hand we will finish that.

Here's what we plan to do to even make super fantastic.

1. Renovate the kitchen. It was done sometime in the eighties with builder grade formica cabinets and a really inefficient design. I think it makes the house sad. We absolutely need to move a few doors in there. The basement stair door will move to the dining area and the bathroom door will move to the back porch. Seeing the toilet from the cooktop is kinda gross.

2. Remodel the small baths. Yes they are small. But that just makes them easy to clean. Just need to be modernized and organized a bit.

3. Refinish all the Hardwoods.

4. Add a portico. Would love this but not sure if we have a property line issue.

There really is nothing I don't love about this house that isn't easily fixed with a few bucks.

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

Hey, there's nothing *wrong* with Sears Homes! :)

Actually, way too many people decide that every foursquare is a Sears Home. Kinda maddening.

I lived in St. Louis for 12 years and live in Norfolk, VA now and there are not that many foursquares on the East Coast, as there are in St. Louis. It really does seem to be the architectural poster-child of the Midwest.

And yes, Sears had about a dozen designs that were foursquares.

And foursquares had some really nice features, such as bookcase colonnades: Like this one.

Rose Thornton
author, The Houses That Sears Built

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

RosemaryT! I have been through your book countless times (and have requested it via inter-library loan just last week) so THANKS for being such a helpful & wonderful resource.

Part of my thesis was to prove the history of the Foursquare existed before Sears, but through writing I've pretty much settled on the fact that, although the Foursquare was in existence prior to the Modern Homes line, Sears/Aladdin/Montg. Ward are the reasons why the Foursquare is so prominent today.

If you travel to Charlottesville, Va. the Foursquares are countless (well so it seems)! I was enthralled, but my group was uninterested so we had to continue traveling.

I completely agree that there's nothing 'wrong' with a Foursquare, I have fallen so deeply in love with them that I almost can't see myself living in anything else. But for the sake of my thesis and modern living, some alterations are in order.

and thanks, cathyka! Can I ask how your four rooms are arranged on each floor (is first floor-kitchen, living, dining, hall, etc)? And do you by any chance have a floor plan? (thanks, thanks, thanks!)

Re: Info on American Foursquare?

I'm so happy I found this thread. I have what some people call a four square but it's not really. I was built in 1936 but I found that it actually seems to be an Aladdin - Standard 1916. This link shows essentially the floor plan of my house execept I have a few differences. http://www.antiquehome.org/House-Plans/1916-Aladdin/Standard.htm

It's basically a foursquare without the fourth room. Anyway I'm trying to find either pics or detailed floor plans because the entrance between my living room and dining room is huge which seems a little strange for the time. I'm trying to determine if there were built ins there at one point. Also, right now my house has the small porch (smaller than the one pictured in the link) and would actually like to know if there actually should have been a full porch.

Like everyone else, it's virtually impossible to find any real information. I also want to bring it back to original as much as possible.



Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.