Historic Architecture

Lake Wales History Museum | Lake Wales, Florida

Lake Wales

The Lake Wales Museum is proud to release the Florida Stories: Walk Lake Wales application. Florida Stories: Walk Lake Wales was developed through a generous grant from the Florida Humanities Council. The “app” takes users on a self-guided tour of eleven historic buildings in Downtown Lake Wales. The “app” is Free to download – simply search for the Florida Stories “app” in iTunes or Google Play to access the Lake Wales Walking Tour.


Lake Wales History Museum | Lake Wales, Florida | Since 1967

The bungalow first appeared in the United States around the turn of the century, an import from southeast Asia, where their low-pitched roof lines, wide overhanging eaves, expansive porches, and bands of windows fitted the tropical climate. California, then Florida, initially adopted the style which quickly became popular throughout the country.

The typical bungalow is small in size and almost exclusively used in residential design. Common traits include tapered porch posts, knee brackets beneath the eaves, and exposed rafters. The bungalow became the popular favorite of middle class urban and small town dwellers who in the early twentieth century began using mortgage loan financing to acquire family homes.


The colonial revival style became popular in the late 19th century and suggested a conscious attempt to imitate the historically significant buildings of colonial America. The style, which originally appeared in the Philadelphia Centennial exposition of 1876, gained further popularity amid a contemporary national effort to preserve several notable buildings. By the turn of the century, the style had become highly popular, especially in residential design.

Of the 2 approaches adopted in imitation of colonial buildings, the favored one emphasized attention to symmetry, proportion, and consistency of material in design. These buildings display a feeling of permanence, stability and confidence in the future.

The plan of a colonial revival building is generally rectangular, offering a symmetrical 2-story facade beneath a gable or hip roof. Dormers often appeared on one or three slopes of the roof. Windows were frequently paired or flanked by blinds. The central doorway, the focal point of the main facade, was either protected by a small portico or contained within a full length or sweeping veranda.

Frame Vernacular

The stylistic description Frame Vernacular is used to describe buildings constructed of wood that have no defined or discernible style. The term vernacular means by the people, and in architecture refers to buildings designed and generally constructed by lay or self-taught builders. The buildings did not represent major stylistic trends of the time. Instead, they reflected in their character and appearance the response of owners and builders to the local environment and their use of local materials.

Frame vernacular buildings are usually rectangular in shape and covered by gable or hip roofs steep enough to accommodate an attic. Early examples of the style generally rested on brick piers, offering space beneath the building for circulation of air and protection from insects. Horizontal wood siding was the most common exterior fabric.

The houses often featured porches or verandas. Decoration on the buildings was sparse, limited to ornamental woodwork such as patterned shingles, turned porch columns, or brackets that appeared to support the eaves.


Building styles reflecting Spanish influence became widely popular in Florida during the 1920s. The Mediterranean influence initially appeared in St. Augustine in the 1880s, though most architectural historians ascribe its beginning to California. The style gained wide popularity during the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, held in 1914 to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, whose grounds featured buildings cast in the Spanish Renaissance style. Architects, builders and developers in Florida particularly favored the style because of the state’s Spanish heritage and Mediterranean-like climate.

The Mediterranean revival house was characterized by a low-pitched gable or hip roof covered with red tile that came in several forms. Flat roofs, often exhibiting a curved or stepped parapet, covered some Mediterranean buildings. Their exterior walls were invariably stuccoed. Porches provided an integral element of the style, frequently adorned with semi-circular arches that took the form of a loggia with columns. The Mediterranean revival building was usually 1 or 2 stories in height and contained at least one feature with vertical emphasis.


The neoclassical style imitates the building styles of ancient Greece and Rome. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago generated great national interest in a revival of classical styles of architecture.

Many of the best known architects of the day designed buildings for the Exposition based on classical precedents which ranging from monumental copies of Greek temples to small models which drew heavily from designs of Adam, Georgian, and Early Classical Revival residences built in the United States during the eighteenth century.

The Exposition was well attended and publicized and soon the neoclassical style became an important stylistic trend. The complex nature of the style made it particularly suited to large scale applications. The most exuberant designs are found on public, institutional and religious edifices.


The significance of the shotgun house owes more to its social history than to its architectural design. Its name derives from an elongated rectangular shape: supposedly, a shotgun blast fired through the front door would emerge from the rear without hitting the walls. The style originated in Africa, immigrated to the West Indies, then entered the United States by way of New Orleans.

Shotguns were constructed in number throughout the South, often as worker housing, and many failed to survive even the first generation. In some cities, notably New Orleans and Louisville, the shotgun has become an object for rehabilitation.

The context is invariably simple, 3 or 4 rooms strung along a single axis, long and narrow in shape. The buildings were frequently constructed on railroad lots and set in rows. To avoid repetition, subtle variations in the facade design emerged that included turned posts, special treatment of the lintels, different positioning of windows and doors, and perhaps an addition of cornice detailing.

Spanish Mission

The Spanish mission style was conceived in the late 19th century as an imitation of the mission churches constructed throughout Spain’s colonial territories in North America. The style originated in California and gained attention when the Southern Pacific Railways adopted it for station houses and resort hotels throughout the West. Mission style buildings are found almost exclusively in states that share a Spanish colonial heritage.

The Spanish mission style was widely employed throughout Florida during the boom years of the 1920s. The style was adapted for a variety of building types, ranging from grandiose tourist hotels to two-room residences. The Spanish Mission style, together with the related Spanish eclectic and Moorish revival styles, came to symbolize Florida architecture.

Curved parapets, bell towers, quatrefoil or arched windows, and adorned entry porches constitute the signal elements of a Spanish mission style building.


The Tudor revival style enjoyed popularity from about 1900 to 1930. The design drew inspiration from Medieval English buildings, ranging from thatched roof folk cottages to grand manor houses. Most Tudor houses in Florida date from the 1920s.

Typical features of the style include steeply pitched roofs (usually side-gabled) often sporting intersecting extensions, decorative half-timbering, and massive end chimneys attached to an exterior wall. Often the chimneys appeared on the front facade of the residence.


MISC Terms

Miscellaneous Terms Used in the Tour
Arcade – a continuous series of arches carried on piers, pilasters, or columns; or a commercial building containing an arched breezeway dividing rows of shops
Arcuate – curved like a bow; arched
Barrel tile – an interlocking semi-cylindrical roofing material made of fired clay
Bracket – a decorative support feature located under eaves or overhangs
Capital – the decorative, crowning feature of a column
Carillon – a set of stationary bells rung by hammers operated from a keyboard or by a mechanism
Corbel – successive courses of wood or masonry which are stepped upward and outward from a wall surface
Cornice – a projecting ornamental molding along the top of a wall; in classical architecture, the upper projecting member of an entablature
Cruciform plan – a floor plan or footprint of a building which forms a cross
Curvilinear parapet – the top of a wall which rises above the roof surface and offers a curved outline
Dentil – one of a series of small blocks forming a molding, often under a cornice
Dome – a semi-spherical structure on top of a building
Dormer – a secondary feature of a building housing a window or vent which is set upon the slope of a roof surface; dormers may provide ventilation, lighting, or auxiliary living space
Dropped cornice – a decorative molding forming a band across the facade of a building
Eaves – a portion of a a sloping roof that extends beyond the wall
Elevation – a side, front or rear view of a building
Entablature – the uppermost member of a classical order or columnar system consisting of an architrave, frieze, and cornice
Gable roof – a sloping roof which forms a triangular section where it meets the vertical wall surface
Half-timbering – a series of partially exposed structural or decorative wood beams spanning a gable end with stucco or masonry material
Hip roof – a roof with sloping ends and sides
Oculus window – a circular window, usually non-operable, with multipane lights
Parapet – a wall, often used as a decorative feature, which rises above the roof line
Pediment – the low pitched triangular gable above a door, window, portico or entrance porch
Piers – masonry supports usually employed in a building foundation, or used as an elevated base for porch posts or columns
Pilaster – a rectangular support or pier projecting partially from a wall and treated architecturally as a column with a base, shaft and capital
Porte cochere – an open structure with a roof attached to a building, primarily used as a shelter for motor vehicles
Portico – a one-bay porch or entrance way which projects from a building that has classical columns, topped by a pediment or an entablature
Quatrefoil window – a window with an arched top
Quonset – a building shaped like a longitudinal half of a cylinder resting on its flat surface
Sidelight – a glass window pane located at the side of a door
Stepped parapet – a wall that rises above the roof line in a series of steps to a peak
Stucco – a masonry mortar-like material used as an exterior wall fabric
Transom – a window pane located above a door
Veranda – a continuous porch which wraps around two or more elevations of a building

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Lake Wales History Museum | Lake Wales, Florida | Since 1967
Lake Wales History Museum | Lake Wales, Florida | Walk: Lake Wales App

Florida Stories’ walking tours allow you to delve behind the scenes of your favorite Florida towns to learn more about their history, culture, and architecture. You can discover the uniqueness of Florida at your own pace and on your own schedule. Each walking tour is GPS enabled and includes audio narration and photos providing you with engaging content at each tour stop.

Florida Stories is a program developed and sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council.