by Mel Selcho

Intown Style With a Story

Tudor Revival: From England to Georgia

With the Druid Hills Tour of Homes and Gardens on the horizon, Atlantans are reminded of the rich architecture found within our intown neighborhoods. The Tudor is one example.

The iconic steep gables and half-timbering are dead giveaways a home was designed with Tudor-style architecture. Behind those features lies a story going all the way back to 1485 when the Tudor monarchs reigned in a time of relative peace and economic prosperity. Wealthy landowners built extremely large manor houses, for both comfortable living and to display their status.

The style we see in our American neighborhoods (prominent in Avondale Estates, Druid Hills and Morningside) is actually a revival of that medieval style. Tudor Revival began in 1890 and grew in popularity to the point it was called “Stockbroker Tudor.”

Christopher Muscato, who teaches at the University of Northern Colorado, writes, “The Tudor Revival captured the aesthetic romance of 16th-century England, but updated with all the comforts of the early 20th century (after all, the romance of the past kind of disappears without indoor plumbing). The pinnacle of this movement was the Tudor-style house.”

The style fell out of favor after World War II, when a housing shortage created a need for affordable homes that could be built quickly.

These are some of the defining characteristics of Tudor Revival homes and the history that inspires them:

  • Steep gable roof: Medieval homes had thatched roofs, and the steep pitch would keep out the water.

  • Asymmetrical: Medieval homes were often added on to each generation which created asymmetry throughout time.

  • Detailed masonry chimney: Tudor chimneys were tall and elaborate to display status. The chimney was a relatively new method to heat a home and draw the smoke out.

  • Solid masonry: Often with decorative stone and brick details.

  • Rounded front door bordered by stone: Medieval entrances were part decorative and also had a protective element to them. The Tudor Arch was common.

  • Tall, thin casement windows: Often with criss-cross mullions. Tudor times were when glass was first introduced to windows. Blowing glass was a new and difficult technique and the panes were often small. Those who couldn’t afford glass used polished horn, cloth or paper. The casement windows open out to let in fresh air.

  • “False” Half Timbering: The method came to Britain with the Saxons. Logs were cut in half, and the flat side faced out. The frame structure was filled with stucco or paster. It is only used aesthetically now.