Settlement Architecture

c. 1850-1885

Settlement architecture was, for the most part, an expression of culture; people built houses like those they knew back home. Generally, the earliest houses were simple and unadorned with gabled roofs and classic lines. Although Arcata’s settlement houses come in several different forms, they can be classified, with a couple of notable exeptions, under a single style generally described as Greek Revival.

The Front-Gable House is one-and-a-half stories with a single gable facing the street. An open porch with a separate roof supported by posts, sometimes split, extends across the front of the house. The front doo is off-centered with two windows at the side and one or two in the gable above. The front door is off-centered with two windows at the side and one or two in the gable above. The front door may have sidelights and a transom. Settlement houses have multi-paned windows; those built prior to 1880 generally have six panes over six panes (6/6) and those built in the 1880’s have 2/2 windows. Siding before about 1870 is clapboard; after that date, it is shiplap. These house have little ornamentation, but usually have corner borads, a plain frieze and cornice returns. A one-story rear addition is common.

The Side-Gable House has the gable end at the side instead of the front of the house. Arcata has both one-and-a-half and two-story versions. This house-type has a center door flanked by single or paired windows. Two-story houses have room for windows in the upper front facade. Ornamentation is generally absent, but corner boards and cornice returns are common and the cornice can be either plain or lined with brackets. Windows are either 2/2 or 1/1 and siding is shiplap. The house may have only a stoop over the front entrance or an open porch across the width of the house. A street-facing center gable or dormer is sometimes found on side-gable houses.

The Upright-And-Wing House combines a front-gable upright with a side-gable wing. The upright is one-and-a-half stories and the wing is generally one story. Front entrances can be into both sections, but always into the wing, which can have either a porch or a stoop. Corner boards, cornice returns, window shelves, shiplap siding, and 2/2 or 1/1 windows are common. This form may be decorated with cornice and window brackets and ornamentation on porches and stoops.