Gingerbread Houses

Victorian-era adornments are one of my favorite architectural highlights of any building, transforming otherwise dull designs into lavish representations. This style of architecture refers to styles that were commonly used between 1830 and 1910 during the reign of Queen Victoria and includes Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Romanesque, and Second Empire, among others. These were often less imposing than the more elaborate and romanticized Gothic style, with builders attempting to translate Europe’s brick Gothic Revival and Victorian vernacular designs with wood.

The Industrial Revolution brought about the invention of the scroll saw and steam-powered factories that allowed for the mass production of braced arches, cornice brackets, cornice trim, pierced balusters, and other patterns. A period of affluence after the Civil War had concluded led to the styling becoming most popular in the South and West as these regions boomed with new cities well into the late 19th century.

The Queen Anne style came into vogue at the height of the mass production of architectural trim in the 1880s, and these patterns began to be referred to as “gingerbread styling.”

Kentucky was no different, and there were a large number of residences that featured fancy embellishments, such as the circa 1890 Abel Gabbard residence in Jackson County, and others throughout the state.

The excessive Victorian-era styling began to fall out of favor by 1910 in favor of the more streamlined Arts and Crafts architectural movement, leading to the development of the bungalow and Craftsman styles. The new trend was led by English reformer William Morris who desired a return to a pre-industrial, handmade society—everything that the Victorian and Queen Anne-eras were not.

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