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Architecture Corner – The American Foursquare

As the names imply, these houses are almost perfectly square. Although there are regional variations, a Foursquare home typically has these features:American_foursquaresears52

  • Two stories, with an attic and a full basement
  • Boxy shape
  • One-story porch across the front
  • Squat, pyramid-shaped roof
  • Single dormer at the center

The interior of an American Foursquare house echoes its box-like form. Typically, each floor contains four rooms–one neatly tucked into each corner. On the first floor you will find an entry foyer, living room, dining room, and kitchen. The second floor is an orderly arrangement of three bedrooms and, in one corner, a bathroom.

During Victorian times, the fashion was to build houses that were complex and often highly ornamented.  Homes of the 1880s and 1890s often had irregular rooflines with several gables, asymmetrical arrangements of windows and doors, and complicated floor plans that required many hallways and stairways. By the turn of the century, however, homebuilders were seeking easier, more economical forms.

The classic Foursquare shape became an American standard in the early 1900s and dominated neighborhoods throughout the first decades of the 20th century. The square form made these houses especially practical for narrow city lots. Arranging the rooms in quadrants eliminated the need for long hallways and made efficient use of interior space. What’s more, simple, symmetrical Foursquare homes were less costly to build than more complicated Victorians. Mail-order companies often featured no-fuss Foursquares pre-cut "kit" homes. Sears Roebuck & Co. featured 15 Foursquare models, ranging from the unpretentious wood frame "Hamilton" to the Spanish Mission "Alhambra" with scalloped parapets.

Selling in the Summer?

Nothings worse than stepping in to an unheated home in January.  They may have just refinished the floors, but no way am I taking my shoes off.  My toes are cold enough in here with them on.  The homes that show well in January feel warm and cozy.  It’s a great time of year to try the old "bake cookies before a showing" trick.

Just the same, it’s really tough to show a hot stuffy house in the summer.  No one wants to stay long.


If you have central air, now is the time to show it off.  Nothing feels better than walking into a fresh cold home during a hot afternoon of driving from one hot house to another.  Heck, if you’ve got a couple of showings scheduled in the same day, turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees.  Not only will the air conditioning show off the features of your home, it will make a buyer think twice about buying any home without it.  If your home is too comfortable, they may not want to leave…and that’s a good thing!

Nokomis and Longfellow Are the Best!

The editors and readers of City Pages agree.  The following local favorites made the the list for City Pages best of 2008.

Buster’s on 28th:  Best New Neighborhood Bar

Lake Nokomis:  Best Place to Get Away From it All Without Leaving Town

Minnehaha Dog Park:  Best Dog Park

Hiawatha Golf Club:  Best Golf Course

Sea Salt:  Best Seafood Restaurant

What?  You haven’t been to all these places and you live right here in Nomokis/Longfellow?  Unless you are deathly allergic to fish, phobic of dogs, or think fun is for losers…you have some catching up to do!