Stick Style c.1860 – c.1890

The Stick style is often considered to be a transitional style, linking the preceding Gothic Revival with the subsequent Queen Anne. All three were inspired by the building traditions of Medieval English half-timbered construction with its visible structural elements, steeply pitched roofs and projecting gables. Unlike Gothic Revival, the Stick style stressed the wall surface itself rather than applying decorative elements merely at windows, doors, and cornices. Various patterns of wood clapboards or board-and-batten siding were applied within square and triangular spaces created by the raised stick work. This detailing was applied to a variety of nineteenth century building forms, making it the defining element of the style. 

The focus on patterned siding is reminiscent of High Victorian Gothic detailing, except that the latter were universally executed in masonry rather than wood. In fact, the Stick style is a celebration of wood construction and in many ways the “structure” as defined by the stick work is the decoration. The undecorated, square-milled lumber gives a precise, geometric quality to Stick-style homes. Advocates additionally promoted the Stick style’s structural “honesty” because the stick work was meant to express the building’s internal structure. However, unlike true half-timbering, stick work was merely applied decoration with no true relation to the underlying balloon-frame construction. During the 1880s the Stick style was rapidly replaced by the related Queen Anne movement which was both more widespread and influential. 

Geographic Range: 

 The Stick style was less common than the contemporary Italianate or Second Empire styles. Examples survive primarily in the northeastern United States and date from the 1860s and ’70s. It is likely that many original examples are now obscured, as their characteristic wall patterns and detailing, susceptible to deterioration, have been removed rather than repaired or replaced. 

Typical Features: 

  • Asymmetrical two or three-storied form with emphasis on vertical  
  • Complex gable roofs, usually steeply pitched with cross gables and overhanging eaves  
  • Decorative trusses at gable ends common  
  • Exposed rafter tails  
  • Wooden wall cladding (either clapboards or board-and-batten siding) interrupted by patterns of horizontal, vertical, or diagonal boards (stick work) raised from the wall surface for emphasis and meant to represent the underlying framework  
  • Extensive porches and verandas; porches plainly trimmed but commonly have diagonal or curved braces  
  • Large 1:1 or 2:2 windows; frequently paired; fit within patterns created by stick work  
  • Corbeled chimneys 

High-Style Elaborations: 

  • Towers and projecting pavilions with decorative trusses and stick work  
  • Jerkin-head gables 
  • The style sought to bring a translation of the balloon framing that had risen in popularity during the middle of the century, by alluding to them through plain trim boards, soffits, aprons, and other decorative features. Stick-style architecture is recognizable by the relatively plain layout often accented with trusses on the gables or decorative shingles. 
  • The style was commonly used in houses, train stations, life-saving stations, and other buildings from the era. 
  • The Stick style did have several characteristics in common with the later Queen Anne style: interpenetrating roof planes with bold panelled brick chimneys, the wrap-around porch, spindle detailing, the “panelled” sectioning of blank wall, radiating spindle details at the gable peaks. Highly stylized and decorative versions of the Stick style are often referred to as Eastlake. 


A Stick-Eastlake–style “cottage”, built in Eureka, California. 

Stick-Eastlake is a style term that uses details from the Eastlake Movement of decorative arts on Stick-style buildings. The style is named for Charles Eastlake. It is sometimes referred to as Victorian Stick, a variation of Stick and Eastlake styles. Stick-Eastlake enjoyed modest popularity in the late 19th century, but there are relatively few surviving examples of the style when compared to other more popular styles of Victorian architecture. 

Stick style, Style of residential design popular in the U.S. in the 1860s and ’70s, a precursor to the Shingle style. The Stick style favored an imitation half-timbered effect, with boards attached to the exterior walls in grids suggestive of the underlying frame construction. Other characteristic features included attached open stickwork verandas, projecting square bays, steeply pitched roofs, and overhanging eaves. Angular and vertical elements were emphasized. Though associated with Carpenter Gothic, the Stick style made less use of gingerbread. The style also marked the beginning of greater openness of the floor plan. Charles S. and Henry M. Greene succeeded admirably in reinterpreting the style in the early 20th century. (Ency