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Victorian Architecture: The Revival Style

Luxury Defined presents seven exemplars of Victorian Revival Architecture, from Italianate and Second Empire to the iconic Queen Anne style

Ahead of Christie’s Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art sale in London on December 12, Luxury Defined celebrates the eclectic Victorian Revival movement with a collection homes inspired by the reign of Queen Victoria, sovereign of Great Britain, Empress of India from 1837 to 1876. Caught in the tension between the old and the new, the Victorian architect reworked classical antecedents with “contemporary” upgrades and a multiplicity of new styles emerged: the medieval and Roman elements of Gothic Revival and Richardson Romanesque; the mansard roofs of Second Empire; the turrets and gables of Queen Anne; and, the Craftsman precursors of Stick-Eastlake style. New engineering technology embraced structural steel as well as the luxury of indoor plumbing. The Victorians reveled in ornamentation, classical proportions, craftsmanship and materials, yet their designs anticipated modernism. Their 19th-century cottages, grand country estates, and elegant townhouses brought in a new age of light, air, warmth, and comfort for homes which are still vibrant, exciting living spaces for the 21st century.

Garrykennedy House in County Tipperary, Ireland

Garrykennedy House is a circa-1864 country house set within 50 acres of parkland on the shores of Lough Derg in County Tipperary. In the 1960s, the estate was owned by Prince Emich Fuerst zu Leimingen, said to be a descendant of Queen Victoria’s mother.

Garrykennedy House abides in 50 acres of parkland on the Shores of Lough Derg in County Tipperary, Ireland. Built in the style of a Victorian hunting lodge, the circa-1864 main house underwent restoration and refurbishment. Its most immediate feature is the incredible lake view, both from inside, and from the terrace. It is complemented by a Georgian coach house with three bedrooms and a round tower. The picturesque porch opens to a hallway that leads to beautiful interconnecting reception rooms. These have bay windows, high ceilings, perfect proportions, open fires and fabulous views (with a games and fitness suite at the lower level). Upstairs, the five bedrooms are set atmospherically in the eaves, all with views of the lake. The land is laid out in fields, paddocks, and woodlands, and formal gardens bordered by old stone walls and an orchard. A covered, heated pool, tennis court, stables and outbuildings, walking and riding trails complete this tranquil retreat in one of Ireland’s most famously picturesque spots.

Upper West Side Townhouse in New York, New York

Built in 1893, this Renaissance Revival townhouse is one of six original Victorian brownstones that form the West 71st Street Historic District on New York’s Upper West Side.

This elegant four-story townhouse, built in 1893, is one of six original Victorian brownstones that form the West 71st Street Historic District, a quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. During the early 1930s, the building was converted to six apartments by notable architect Emery Roth. The property has since been restored to its former grandeur as a private residence. The entrance leads to a grand foyer with beautiful oak floors, paneled walls, and an intricately carved staircase. The parlor level features a light-filled living room, formal dining room, and spacious eat-in kitchen, which opens to a curved staircase leading to the garden below. The third level houses the sumptuous master suite. Additional bedrooms are on the fourth floor, where a staircase rises to a roof deck with views of the Hudson River.

Chesnutt House in Savannah, Georgia

Built in 1897, this ornate three-story house overlooking Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia, is an exemplar of the iconic Queen Anne style.

One of Savannah’s notable historic homes, Chestnutt House is a majestic, light-filled, three-story Queen Anne townhouse. Its floor-to-ceiling windows, balcony and wraparound porch overlook Forsyth Park, one of Savannah’s loveliest open spaces. The five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom house, with original marble floors and 10-foot-tall pocket doors, has been lovingly restored to its period-appropriate integrity. Architectural details reveal the Victorians’ love of ornamentation, from seven original, working fireplaces and bronze hardware to vintage stained glass and Moorish fretwork. The first floor has two large parlors, a spacious dining room and den accented with fireplaces, chandeliers and three sets of pocket doors. The contemporary kitchen features heart pine countertops and custom cabinetry. The second-floor bedrooms have seven closets and the third floor has a guest suite and walk-in attic storage. An ample back deck, perfect for entertaining, overlooks an inviting pool.

Tresco in Sydney, Australia

In a prime waterfront setting on Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay, Tresco is an Italianate manor built in 1868 by noted Australian architect Thomas Rowe.

Tresco is one of Sydney’s most historic and beautifully preserved waterfront estates. Overlooking Elizabeth Bay, the Italianate manor was built in 1868 by noted Australian architect Thomas Rowe and served as the home of officer-in-command of the Royal Australian Navy for over a century. Since then, the estate has been impeccably restored, converting the stables into an office and wine cellar and adding a self-contained, two-bedroom apartment above the garage. The house, grounds, and trees have federal and state heritage listings. Grand 19th-century architectural details include sandstone exterior, slate roof, and cast-iron balustrades, bay windows, a turned timber staircase, marble fireplaces, and decorative ceilings. The two-story layout features both formal and casual entertaining spaces, including two full kitchens, a dining room, and a charming glass-enclosed sunroom with an uninterrupted panorama of Sydney Harbour. There are eight bedrooms in the main house including the private master wing. The lovely parklike grounds meander down to a private sea pool, boathouse, jetty, and three deepwater moorings.

Tower Cottage in Ridgefield, Connecticut

Tower Cottage, a distinctive Queen Anne-style house in Ridgefield, Connecticut, was built in 1880 by architect Charles B. Northrup. The property has a unique provenance as the summer retreat of the young Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (née Jacqueline Lee Bouvier).

Built in 1880 with understated elegance, the distinctive Queen Anne-style Tower Cottage is a magnificent country home, with six bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, a unique, three-story onion-domed turret and a spacious wraparound veranda. The young Jacqueline Lee Bouvier spent summers here when it was the summer home of her aunt, Maude Davis. Its well-proportioned rooms, with 10-foot ceilings upstairs and down, include a formal dining room, living room, breakfast room, butler’s pantry, and a vaulted family room, restored with many irreproducible architectural details intact. The turret houses the first-floor library, the second-floor master suite, and a charming study on the third floor. The all-new kitchen features custom cabinetry, Carrera marble countertops, Bertazzoni stove, two wall ovens, and full-size SubZero refrigerator and freezer separates. The landscaped grounds include lawns, gardens, and a heated gunite pool.

Glenholme in Nyack, New York

This idyllic Victorian house in Nyack, New York, was built in 1854. The home’s wraparound verandah and 1.5 acres of picturesque gardens were featured in the 1998 film Stepmom.

Glenholme is a charming mid-19th-century house in the historic hamlet of Nyack, New York. The bucolic grounds commanding a hilltop on one-and-half acres of rolling lawns, mature hardwoods, a brook traversed by a quaint bridge and views of the Hudson River and beyond. The property has been fully restored but retains its ornate period details, including the elegant Mansard roof, a defining feature of the Second Empire style. Fans of Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon might recognize the house from Stepmom, their 1998 film. The three-sided wraparound porch and wonderland gardens were filmed on location. The entrance hall leads to a spacious living room with four sets of French doors, a fireplace, and coffered ceiling. Farther along is the dining room, with bow-shaped window wall and fireplace, and a secret passageway leading to the eat-in chef’s kitchen. A grand staircase leads to an intimate sitting nook with fireplace. There are six bedrooms, including the master suite, with picture windows to capture the Hudson River views.

Private Estate in Dedham, Massachusetts

The Shingle Style was a prominent architectural style in New England from 1879 to 1890. This 19th-century mansion on 22 private acres in Dedham, Massachusetts, displays many classic characteristics of the style, from the cedar-shingle façade and irregular roofline to the free-flowing floor plan and open porches.

This wooded, 22-acre estate set on a private pond is a secluded suburban retreat within easy reach of Boston. Designed by Morehouse MacDonald, the 13,000-square-foot Shingle Style residence features carefully proportioned rooms, ideal for both family time and formal entertaining. The first floor offers a grand foyer with a three-story spiral staircase, gracious reception rooms, a library, sunlit galleries, spacious guest quarters, and a stunning kitchen that opens on a large family room with fireplace and breakfast nook. There is a side-hall mudroom with laundry and a heated three-car garage. Upstairs is a lovely master suite, a second laundry, five en suite bedrooms, a study space, and a second-floor family room. On the ground floor is a wine cellar, a bar, a billiards room, an exercise room, steam room and sauna, all of which open onto the patio and pool. Down the hall is a large theater with stadium seating and a big playroom. Bluestone and granite patios overlook the pond, the infinity pool, the rolling lawns, and woods beyond.