The American Foursquare

Simple and pragmatic, the classic Foursquare (1895-1930s) home is found in nearly every part of the United States. Join us for a photo tour of the style that took America by storm.

American Foursquare houses usually have these features:

  • Simple box shape
  • Two-and-a-half stories high
  • Four-room floor plan
  • Low-hipped roof with deep overhang
  • Large central dormer
  • Full-width front porch, sometimes enclosed, with wide stairs
  • Little use of ornament
  • Built in wide variety of materials, including wood, brick, and stucco

Built to offer the most house for the least amount of money, there may never have been a more popular or practical house than the American Foursquare. Most decorative features were saved for the front porch which could reflect either Colonial Revival details or Bungalow elements. A front-gabled version of the Foursquare is often found in the same neighborhoods or adjacent to the hipped-roof version. These houses usually feature the same or similar floor plans and like the Foursquare, have few architectural details except on the front porch. You don’t have to look hard to find numerous examples; try the 19th Ward, Beechwood, and the Culver/Merchants neighborhood.

Popularized by pattern books and Sears Roebuck & Company mail order kits, the American Foursquare spread to residential neighborhoods throughout the United States. Sears also offered a machine that could manufacture cement blocks on site.

Sources:, Chicago Tribune, Landmark Society