Eastlake FURNITURE .................Styles of Architecture .................. Styles of Furniture

Eastlake Style in Buffalo, NY

Table of Contents:

Eastlake (1875-1910)
By Francis R. Kowsky
Excerpt from Intensive Level Historic Resources Survey: City of Buffalo: Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood.

Generally, Eastlake buildings would be classified as Stick style or Queen Anne if they were not characterized by a distinctive type of ornament that resulted from use of a chisel, gouge, and the lathe. The Eastlake Style was simply a decorative style of ornamentation found on houses of various Victorian styles.

It is named after Charles L. Eastlake (1833-1906), an English architect who wrote "Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details," published in 1868. Reprinted in America in 1872, the book had become so popular that it required six editions within eleven years.

Generally, Eastlake ornamentation features intricate wood details: porch posts, balustrades, verge boards, pendants, and other decorative elements characterized by a massive and robust quality. Wooden decorative elements were products of the power lathe and saw.

Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood

Because the style's period of popularity coincided with the rapid growth of the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, Eastlake was the neighborhoods most predominant architectural style in the late nineteenth century.

Eastlake decorative elements such as intricate window and door surrounds, and sawtooth trim were applied to the facades of modest workers' cottages.

Despite varying architectural integrity, a large number of remaining workers' cottages constructed in the late nineteenth century in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood still retain their sawtooth trim. Excellent examples of workers' cottages with Eastlake ornamentation survive at 91 Guilford Street, 343 Sherman Street and 279 Strauss Street.



To some historians, the Eastlake Style was simply a decorative style of ornamentation found on houses of various other Victorian styles, primarily the Queen Anne and Stick styles.

Other historians would classify Eastlake as a separate style: "A Queen Anne building is noted for its extensive use of curvilinear, slender profile forms, whereas the Eastlake is often noted for its geometric, more massive forms." - Charles Nelson, The Bric-a-Brac Styles

Eastlake is named after Charles L. Eastlake (1833-1906), an English architect who wrote Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details, published in 1868. The book was reprinted in America in 1872 and became so popular that it required six editions within eleven years.

In his book, Eastlake promotes a peculiar kind of furniture and interior decoration that was angular, notched and carved, and deliberately opposed to the curved shapes of French Baroque Revival Styles such as the Second Empire. Traditionally, furniture makers imitated architectural forms, but Eastlake reversed this process. Eastlake houses had architectural ornamentation that had copied the furniture inside the house.

He made no furniture himself, his designs being produced by professional cabinet makers.

It was not only the custom designers who were inspired by Eastlake's ideas. The manufacturers of the machine-made furniture which Eastlake deplored also copied the Eastlake style as it was illustrated in his book.

Eastlake style became a kind of catchall term meaning different things to different people. Eastlake himself commenting on his influence in the United States, said, "I find American tradesmen continually advertising what they are pleased to call Eastlake furniture, the production of which I have had nothing whatever to do, and for the taste of which I should be very sorry to be considered responsible."

Henry Hobson Richardson, an American architect, was one of the foremost proponents of the Eastlake style in the United States. The furniture he designed for the Woburn Public Library and the North Eastern Library in Massachusetts are very similar to pieces which appear in the illustrations to "Hints on Household Taste."

Eastlake Style in Houses

Although Queen Anne and Stick styles sometimes include Eastlake porches, entire houses can be termed Eastlake, as well. They are similar in over-all effect to both the Eastern Stick and Queen Anne styles, but are generally smaller in scale.

Lathe-shaped wooden forms: Porch posts, railings, balustrades, bargeboards, braces and pendants were characterized by a massive, oversized, and robust Eastlake quality; but over the years they became more curvilinear, more Baroque in style. These members were worked or turned on a mechanical lathe, giving the appearance of heavy legged furniture of the period.

Mechanical jigsaw wooden forms: Large curved brackets, scrolls, and other stylized elements often are placed at every corner, turn or projection along the facade.

Perforated gables and pediments, carved panels and a profusion of beaded spindles, and lattice work found along porch eaves add to the complexity of the facade. These lighter elements combined with the heavier and oversized architectural members exaggerated the three-dimensional quality.

In Eastlake and Queen Anne styles, carved vergeboards sometimes include scroll-sawn cutouts, bull's eyes, beaded spindles, turned spindles, sunbursts, or (drop) pendants.

Strapwork (interlaced strips of wood) was used.

Eastlake style houses featured mansardic porches with wrought-iron cresting.

Many pieces of the house had to be ordered by catalog and assembled at the site, like a large piece of furniture.

Color: Both the Eastlake and Stick style were suited to color combinations which became popular during their time of construction. In the late Victorian period multicolor schemes were adopted. While traditional earth tones were still acceptable, astonishing colors and contrasts also began to appear. Lighter detail or trim against a darker house body became the norm.

An 1885 Sherwin Williams Company book, "What Color?," also said that the projecting parts of a house should be highlighted in a lighter color than that which was used to paint the sunken or receding parts. But even when the opposite approach was taken (darkening the trim against a lighter house body), color was to enhance "the salient features," such as the diagonal bracing on a Stick style design.


  • "A Field Guide to American Architecture," by Carole Rifkind. New York: New American Library, 1980
  • "The American House," Mary Mix Foley. New York: Harper. 1980
  • "American Homes," by Lester Walker. Black Dog and Leventhal Pub.
  • "Identifying American Architecture," by John J.-G Blumenson. New York: Norton. 1981
  • "Victorian Houses," by Edmund V. Gillon, Jr. and Clay Lancaster. Dover Pub., 1973
  • "American House Styles," by John Milnes Baker. Norton, 1995
  • A New Look at an Old Neighborhood: Historic Homes of Buffalo's Linwood Avenue Preservation District 1820-1982, Susan M. Pollack, ed.

Examples from Buffalo:

Photos and their arrangement 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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