The American Foursquare was built between 1890 and about 1935. After 1900, it was one of the most popular house styles in both rural settings and on small city lots. They were sensible two- to two-and-a-half-story homes that were economical to build, comfortable to live in, and aesthetically pleasing in their simplicity.
The Foursquare takes its name from its simple, cubic shape and floor plan which is divided into quarters on each floor. Like the Prairie style, the Foursquare had a low pitched, hipped roof with a deep over hang. Frequently, they are seen with a large, hipped central dormer. They have a large wide porch that runs the full width of the house, and wide stairs.
The Foursquare is usually clad in materials that are indigenous to where it was built. In the Pacific Northwest the majority are sided in wood; in other areas, the Foursquare is seen in brick, stone, or a combination of materials. Most often the foundation is raised and the masonry, stone, or brick is evident.
They are thought by some to descend from the Italianate style of the mid-19th century and by others to be a variation on the Colonial Revival style. Borrowing from other styles prevalent during the first third of the 20th century, many Foursquares can be found sporting many of the design details of the Colonial Revival, bungalow, and Italian Renaissance. Elements such as classical columns and simple friezes, knee braces, exposed rafter tails, and tile roofs are not unusual and make this a truly eclectic style, especially in homes built after 1920.
A relative of the Foursquare is the much smaller cottage version with only one floor, a hipped roof and central dormer, and full width front porch supported by simple columns.