Architectural Guide to Historic Vallejo

Architectural Guide TO Historic vallejo

Explore Vallejo's Historic Architecture

There are more than a dozen architectural styles in Historic Vallejo and several other distinctive forms.

To qualify as “historic,” a home must be on or qualify to be on the National Register of Historic Places or registered on a state or local historic list.

The requirements for the National Register are intentionally vague but they center around two questions: 

  1. Are the character-defining features associated with the architectural styles still present?
  2. How do those features fit into the story or Spirit of America History? 

How and why homes were built tell us much about the time, place, and people they came from.

The Queen Anne was the result of new building materials available during the industrial revolution. The Colonial Revival reflected the pride of our country turning 100 years old. Craftsman homes became associated with women’s suffrage. 

These buildings are not just photos in a book. They show us how people lived. This guide seeks to both define the styles and tell the story of how they fit into the Spirit of America. And hopefully the Spirit of Vallejo.

Italianate 1840-1885

Italianate homes were a stylized version of medieval Italian farmhouses and Renaissance villas. They typically have a low-pitched roof with decorative brackets in the eaves. In the townhouse, which is the most common form of Italianate in Vallejo, the roof is flat and concealed by an elaborate cornice and brackets in the front.

Mimicking medieval style, the Italianate windows tend to be tall and narrow. The sashes often have one or two panes. Arched or curved window tops first became popular in Italianates. Crowns, brackets, pediments, or even frames that surround the entire window, are common. Italianate homes built after 1870 may have bay windows.

Cornices are usually supported by large and elaborate brackets. Doors of Italianate homes were the first to have large glass panes, and these doors are often shaped and framed in the same style as Italianate windows. There is usually a porch, but it will be more modest and understated than the door and windows, with beveled square posts for support.

Formal Italian styles from the Renaissance and ancient Rome inspired the Classical period. As the Classical period passed into the Romantic period, Italian styles stayed central not only in music and fine art but also in architecture. The Italianate mimics the architecture of Italian farmhouses and smaller villas.

They were wildly popular in the American West. 

Think about all the westerns you have seen. Italianates often lined those dusty streets. It was like that in the early years of Vallejo as well. This style was dominant between 1850 and the 1880s. Vallejo was founded in 1855, and like most towns in the American West the Italianate style dominated here, too. 

Queen Anne 1880-1910

The Queen Anne is characterized by asymmetric forms in nearly every way possible. Varied textures and colors on the walls are the hallmark of Queen Anne homes.

These homes nearly always have a front facing gable with irregular shaped roofs. There will be multiple types of siding and shingles. The canted bay window (bay window with cut-away walls) had just come into fashion and it is extremely common for these homes to have a canted bay window below the front facing gable.

The Queen Anne was dominant from 1880 until somewhere near 1910. This style was more popular and fancier in the Western US. Vallejo underwent a building boom between 1890 (basically when the railroads became fully functional) and 1915 (the beginning of WWI).

Before the Industrial Revolution there were only a few colors of paint available, and most building materials needed to be created or modified by the builder. The Industrial Revolution and the railroads changed all that.

A wide variety of building materials became available and builders could do just about anything… So they did!

These homes were fancy and trying to show off.

The Industrial Revolution also brought new methods of creating ornamentation. Lathe machines had just been invented. About half of these homes have fancy turned wood supports and spindles on the porches.

Architects tended to shun this style, but it was wildly popular with builders who used pattern books. Homeowners could pick what they wanted their home to look like from drawings in a book. Builders created it straight from the pattern book, often without blueprints.

These homes express the Romantic period in full swing. They are the tall dark and handsome mysterious stranger. As the style wound down these homes came to be associated with an excess of cheap, industrially produced junk, and was followed by a movement back to hand-crafted quality.

Eastlake Design

Eastlake is a distinctive design style of surface ornamentation that was commonly placed on Stick and Queen Anne homes.

Eastlake rejects the fancy Baroque designs of the Victorian era in favor of angular, carved and notched wooden shapes. There is a distinctive use of lathe cut turned wood and jigsaw cut wood.

The Eastlake design came from a style of furniture created by an English Architect Charles L Eastlake.

Even though Eastlake can seem highly ornamented to the modern eye, at the time (1868) it was a movement to a much more simple Victorian expression.

Eastlake is most commonly associated with a Victorian style called Stick. This style sits between Italianate and Queen Anne in terms of the years it was made and the elements it has. In fact, many Stick homes can be easily confused with either Italianate or a Queen Anne since they can look like either.

These homes are defined by wooden wall cladding that has a large variation in pattern. This is usually stickwork made from boards set in decorative patterns and carvings either added to the home or carved from parts of the wood.

There are very few good examples of Stick homes left anywhere in the United States. One reason is that there were fewer Stick homes built than other styles. Another is that the defining features (stick work) was easily lost to wood rot.

There are probably many local examples of this style that are now unrecognizable as Stick. Once the defining characteristic is lost, the basic definition of the style is also lost.

Eastlake homes in Vallejo tend to be Queen Anne and for that reason, Eastlake exists inside the Queen Anne designation in all Vallejo Historic Home classifications.

Eastlake homes tend to have square or box bay windows, not the canted type more common with Queen Anne homes. They also tend to have a “taller” or “thinner” look. Eastlake homes will usually have brackets similar to Italianates and will most often have a forward facing gable.

SHINGLE 1880-1910

Shingle homes are characterized by the continuous use of natural wood shingles. The wood shingles encase the home, wrapping around edges and corners so that most of the home is enveloped in shingles. Originally the roofs were wood shingles and wrapped down over the roof lines.

Unlike so many other styles of homes, the Shingle does not emphasize decorative trim around the windows, doors, porches, cornices, or even on the walls. Instead of any of these details, the original idea was to fully clad a free-form home in shingles.

Somewhere there will be a steeply pitched line in the roof reaching from the top of the roof to the eave, at least on one side. The smaller Shingle homes of Vallejo are defined by the same steeply pitched roof, usually on both sides. 

The roofline is the easiest to recognize defining feature.  

These homes began as rambling east coast architectural design mansions. They were asymmetrical and often included towers, overhangs, large porches and multiple roof types. 

The style was common from 1880-1910, and as the style spread west it became smaller and more vernacular. These homes originated as mansions, but by the time they made their way to Vallejo they were often small family homes.

This style is probably the most misunderstood in Vallejo. The west coast version of this east coast style is so radically different that these homes are frequently misclassified as Colonial Revival or even as Queen Anne. 

Because so much of the style has to do with natural wood shingles, this is probably the most damaged style seen in Vallejo. Once painted, these homes lose some of their defining features.

Colonial Revival 1880-1955

Colonial Revivals are characterized by symmetry and balance. These homes usually have simple hip roofs with dormers and elaborate moldings around the doors and windows. They also commonly have a fancy front porch, usually a portico, with some type of pediment and columns and pilasters.

Even though the Colonial Revival happened during the Victorian Era, and did of course share some design aspects, it was a very different type of structure based on a different philosophy.

If the intention of the Queen Anne was to show off and be as elaborate as possible, the intention of the Colonial Revival was to return to the classical model of the Enlightenment. 

These homes are characterized by classical symmetry.

1876 was the 100-year anniversary of the United States. The Colonial Revival came into fashion in the 1880s in large part because of an interest in mimicking early American style. 

More than just an effort to recreate the actual style of Colonial America, Colonial Revival was an adaptation of balance, openness, and space which were associated with a return to the classical values of American democracy. Colonial Revival leaned heavily on classical architecture to express these ideals. 

The Orders of Architecture, the term for the use of columns and architrave, dominates the Colonial Revivals in nearly every way. Not only do they have columns on the front porch, but the theme of columns and architrave is repeated again and again, both inside and out. It is seen in the window trim, corner boards, and interior molding around doors and windows.

The Orders of Architecture became so popular at the end of the 19th century that we even see it being borrowed by builders of the Queen Anne, who undoubtedly wanted a chance to join in the fun. 

Later Colonial Revival

Colonial Revival is an eclectic style meant to mimic aspects of American Colonial Architecture. Early Colonial Revival (until about 1910) mostly focused on mimicking the balance and sophistication of Georgian and Federal architecture.

Later Colonial Revival was more relaxed and varied.

Imitation of Georgian and Federal architecture was still present but it was scaled back. A general imitation of vernacular New England styled cottages helped the style become even less formal. The Dutch Colonial style also persisted in a simpler form. 

We see all of this in The bay Terrace. There are larger buildings that can seem a bit formal, there are many smaller Cottages and scaled back Dutch Colonial Revivals. The homes in Bay Terrace also contain a wide range of colonial ornamentation.

The New England styled cottages are frequently called Cape Cod Cottages. The name refers to the building type and not an architectural style. This building type should also not be confused with the Cape Cod Revival which emerged decades later.

Dutch Colonial Revival 1880-1955

The Dutch Colonial Revival can be considered a subset of the Colonial Revival. These homes are characterized by the gambrel roof. Most people think of this as a “barn shaped” roof.

The story starts with the Colony of New York, which charged a heavy tax on homes with a second floor. However, they counted the gambrel roof as an attic, not a second story.

The Dutch immigrants began exploiting this tax loophole by building homes with a small downstairs footprint (the space that was taxed) but a larger overhanging roof so that they could get around the extra tax. Sadly, Solano County does not allow this tax break. 

The Dutch Colonial Revival was a throwback to this shape of home, and emerged as a part of the Colonial Revival movement of the 1880s.

The gambrel roof is the defining feature that is the easiest to recognize.

The earlier versions of these homes, of the type seen in downtown Vallejo, often had interlocking roofs so that the gable would be seen on the front and the side. 

Later versions in the 1920s and 1930s were more linear, with the gambrel roof running the length of the home, often with large shed dormers.

This style freely used columns and various other Colonial aspects.

Craftsman 1905-1930

These homes originated here in California and were characterized by low-pitched, mostly gabled roofs, with wide open overhanging rafters. They frequently have exposed beam work, some of which is entirely decorative, and porches under the roof supported in the front by large square columns tapered towards the top.

What started off as the Arts and Crafts movement in England became the Craftsman movement in the United States. Philosophically this was a movement against the excesses of the Industrial Revolution and an effort to return to quality goods produced by local craftsmen such as blacksmiths, carpenters, glassmakers, and masons.

The philosophy was to use local craftsmen and materials. 

Homes by a river would be built of river rock and homes in a desert built of stucco. This ethic was embraced by the builders of both mansions and small family homes.

In an odd twist of fate this style, which started as a reaction to the “cheap junk” of the Industrial Revolution and a return to local craftsmen, was to become the most mass-produced home style of all time!

Factories created mail-order homes in Craftsman styles, which were shipped by boxcar and assembled onsite. These mail-order kits came with all parts needed to build the home, and instructions on how to assemble. Every board, screw, and piece of hardware was labeled. 

Mail-order homes were inexpensive and catered to the needs of a growing working class, who could buy an inexpensive piece of land and assemble their own home. 

Between 1905 and 1920, the Craftsman home was the dominant style in both small family homes and larger architect-built structures. Here in Vallejo, we have examples of both.

First Bay Tradition (1880-1925)

This has been called a tradition instead of a style because even though the ethic was specific, it was expressed in a wide variety of ways and never found a unified architectural style.

This tradition tried to answer the question, “How can structures be created to better encourage and create our relationship with nature?” 

Its characteristics include a link to nature with an emphasis on craftsmanship, volume, form, and asymmetry. 

The tradition relied heavily on locally sourced materials, especially redwood. There was also an Arts and Crafts influence of focusing on craftsmanship and form.  

First Bay Tradition is thought to have originated with Joseph Worcester, who was a minister, amateur architect, and friend of Ansel Adams. The tradition is very much a regional phenomenon of the Bay area. 

There are also many examples that are stucco, but often these homes have wood shingles for siding. The interiors were often unfinished or oiled redwood. 

Arts and Crafts was a British tradition that later became the Craftsman in the United States. It is correct to think of the First Bay Tradition as an expression of Arts and Crafts that predated the American Craftsman Tradition but was later rolled up into it. 

For the purposes of Vallejo Historic Homes, First Bay Tradition is included in the Craftsman style designation. 

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was an architect of the First Bay tradition. She is easily the most famous female architect of the 20th century. 

She is best known as the creator of the Hearst Castle. 

Solano County has only one Julia Morgan structure. It is located at the highest point of Capitol St. The location allows for unrestricted views in every direction.

William Jones

William Jones came to Vallejo as a child, and spent the bulk of his life living in Vallejo. He lived with his wife and three children at a home he built for them on Alameda St. 

William Jones is certainly the most famous Vallejo architect. 

Like many advocates of the First Bay Tradition, Jones loved nature. He was a founding member of the Sierra Club and enjoyed taking photos of nature. 

William Jones created many of Vallejo’s more distinctive homes, and even assisted Julia Morgan in the creation of the home she built here in Vallejo. 

William Jones’s work would often blend various eclectic styles with the plain redwood shingle look that was popular in the First Bay Tradition. This gave his work a distinctive flair that could lean into many styles while still maintaining a unified feeling.

John Hudson Thomas

John Hudson Thomas was another prominent First Bay Tradition architect who also had a close relationship with Julia Morgan. Later in his career, John Hudson Thomas was associated with the Second Bay Tradition

Thomas was closely associated with Berkeley, but there are many local examples of his work here in Vallejo. 

His work was highly detailed in ornamentation, and often whimsical. John Hudson Thomas’s work included a mix of many styles including Prairie, Tudor, Art Nouveau, Gothic, and Mission. 

One unifying feature in his style was a five-sided bay window with a distinctive individual roof.

The examples we have in Vallejo are smaller homes that include this bay window design.

Prairie Style (1900-1920)

The Prairie Style is specifically a building type with two or more stories. It has long horizontal lines meant to feel like the midwest. However, the examples in Vallejo that were influenced by this style are nearly all small one-story homes. 

We don’t really have Prairie homes in Vallejo, but there are a lot of Craftsman homes that have a distinctive Prairie influence.

Sometimes these homes are referred to as Wrightian for Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on them.

These small Vallejo homes are unique enough that they constitute a subtype of Craftsman. They usually appear in groups of several at a time, as if a builder purchased a piece of land and built several homes in a row. 

It is very likely that there was at least one builder at the beginning of the 20th century who was influenced in a certain way to build these homes. That builder may have even had several sets of plans. 

No one knows how these homes came to be in Vallejo. It is a mystery. 

Tudor 1890-1940

The style is characterized by generally steeper roofs which are usually cross-gabled and sometimes flared. The windows are often tall and narrow. The front door and the entry porch area may have an arch. These homes are usually stucco with stone, brick or half-timber decoration.

Dormers, orioles, prominent chimneys, and even arched arcade wings are used in the smaller versions of these homes seen in Vallejo.

These homes are asymmetrical and utilize a wide variety of home shapes. They also utilize many different types of wall decoration which can make them harder to recognize.

This style is loosely based on medieval and early Renaissance English traditions and bears very little relationship to the English Tudor tradition. 

The name is a misnomer. 

 This style began in the 19th century and gained in popularity during the early 20th century. More than a million soldiers returned from Europe at the end of WWI having seen similar homes in England and France, making the Tudor home even more popular. 

The vast majority of Tudor homes in Vallejo were built in the 1920s and 1930s and are mostly family-sized homes.

Spanish Revival
1915-1940

Spanish Revival homes are characterized by stucco walls with red tiles covering the roofs. There will be arches in the windows, door or entrance to the porch. A wide variety of home shapes are used, and a wide range of decorative details are available.

Most homes are also recognizable by having at least one large focal point window or windows. A parabolic shape or a triple arch are the most common. Chimney tops made from decorative brick or tile are also commonly seen.

In 1915 an exposition of Spanish architecture was held in San Diego. This exposition featured Spanish styles found around the globe. It was well received and kicked off 25 years of Spanish Revival.

The style borrows a wide range of decorative details from Byzantine, Moorish, Renaissance, Gothic and Spanish Colonial.

Many styles like Shingle started as high architecture and gradually made their way into the vernacular. That didn’t happen with Spanish Revival. 

Spanish Revival exploded in the American Southwest.

This style was widely popular in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Florida. Mansions, commercial buildings, large suburban homes and small family homes appeared all at the same time.

In California, it is common to find entire subdivisions of Spanish Revival homes. Vallejo is no exception.

Neoclassical 1865-1955

This style is similar to Colonial Revival. The main difference is that this style is more ornate and that the columns support the roof of the home, not just a portico. 

This is an eclectic style meant to imitate American colonial architecture. However, it was done in error. 

In 1893 a replica of George Washington’s Mount Vernon home was included in the Columbia World Fair in Chicago. This home had a two-story column pavilion, but it was an add-on. 

Columns extending to the roof of the home were not part of any actual colonial style. 

It was widely assumed that the replica at the World Fair was a representational example of the stately Federal and Georgian styles, and it was imitated as such. 

There are only a few examples of this style in Vallejo.

Mediterranean Revival 1920-1940

This style was about creating the feeling of a seaside villa, and grew out of the focus on leisure that defined the “Roaring Twenties”.

It was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and was meant to convey a sense of old world elegance.

Like the Spanish Revival, Mediterranean Revival borrows from many styles, and so has a wide variety of appearances. It is very much defined by a low pitched, broad, overhanging, red tiled roof and lighter colored stucco walls.

Unlike the Spanish Revival, the Mediterranean Revival typically has a symmetrical rectangular floor plan. The Mediterranean Revival also tends to be used for larger homes with a more grandiose style. 

In Vallejo, there are far fewer examples of this style than the similar Spanish Revival.

Art Deco 1920-1940 (Modernistic, Streamline, and International)

In commercial real estate, there are three Art Deco styles which tend to be very distinct from each other. However, in residential real estate, the styles tend to be much less pure.

The International style is technically not even Art Deco, but it was influenced by Modernist architecture and then had an influence on Streamline. 

Representations of the International style in Vallejo residential homes are mixed up enough with Art Deco that I have included it in the same style. It is not uncommon to find elements of all three styles together in the same home. 

All three of these styles are clad in smooth stucco.

The distinction between them is most importantly the level and type of ornamentation. 

Early 20th century representational art deemphasized natural shapes and designs in favor of geometric ones. Art Deco was influenced by these bold geometric forms and strong, bold colors (think Cubism). 

Art Deco architecture typical of the 1920s is called Modernistic. This architecture is characterized by stylized motifs and geometric shapes. Modernistic homes often include zigzag designs. Reeding and fluting patterns also occur. This style was also influenced by art from Asia, the near east, and ancient Egypt. 

Modernistic is often associated with early Hollywood movies and cinemas. It is old fashioned now, but at one time represented the cutting edge of modern design. 

Later Art Deco architecture (after 1930) is called Streamline. These homes had curved edges, smooth surfaces, and long horizontal lines, often incorporating glass blocks.

This style was meant to convey the feeling of moving fast. It was focused on mimicking the streamlined industrial design seen in planes, cars, and trains which were finally able to go fast enough that aerodynamics mattered. Nautical elements were also included. 

Homes in this style are usually asymmetrical with features that emphasize horizontal lines in nearly every way.

When you look at Streamline architecture it is easy to imagine science fiction drawings of rocket ships. It is easy to feel the spirit of excitement of the time. 

Beginning in the mid 1920s, the International style was created by architects in Europe (most importantly Bauhaus). These architects wanted to create a style free from the regional differences they believed led to World War I.

The International style came to be defined as internal volume, regularity, and the avoidance of ornamentation. It was influenced by the Modernistic style and then influenced the Streamline style.

These were originally asymmetrical, linear structures which were nearly always clad in white stucco. They were thought of more in terms of the inside space created than the external appearance. 

The International style is relatively rare, but we are lucky to have several examples in Vallejo. 

Minimal Traditional And Ranchette

The historic Vallejo areas which are mostly Minimal Traditional usually occur with Ranchette. Even though Ranchette (early Ranch) is technically part of the Ranch style, in my Guide to Vallejo Architecture I have included it with Minimal Traditional. 

In 1934, congress created the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in order to provide more housing. The intention was to facilitate home loans and improve housing standards. The FHA revolutionized the way home loans worked in the US. 

FHA created guidelines for the types of homes that became easy to finance, and because of this, popular to build. The focus was on smaller, scaled back, traditional homes. Minimal architectural details were encouraged. 

The Minimal Traditional came directly from these lending and building guidelines and the Ranchette soon followed. These styles are an amazing example of how lending standards can create architecture. 

Minimal Traditional

The Minimal Traditional home is generally a smaller one story home with a low pitched roof, minimal or no overhang on the eaves, single pane double hung windows, and minimal exterior details (shutters for example) These homes have small porches. There is often some decorative scalloped detailing across the gable or around the porch. 

Ranchette 

The Ranchette (sometimes called Early Ranch) can be difficult to distinguish from Minimal Traditional. There are three features that are more representational of Ranchette. These are a large picture window somewhere in the front of the home, some part of the home having wider over hanging eaves, and a porch under the main roof of the home. This porch will generally be in front and under the wide over hanging eaves.

Cape Cod Revival

The name Cape Cod in the name refers to the building type, a side gable structure with at least two prominent dormers with forward-facing gables. These homes tend to have minimal ornamentation.

This style is often included in the Minimal Traditional style because most examples nationally came from the same FHA guidelines designed to create scaled-back traditional homes. 

However, in Vallejo, this would be inappropriate. The examples of Cape Cod Revival in Vallejo tend to be larger and fancier. They also tend to be in the more affluent areas of town and are specifically missing from Minimal Traditional areas. 

Because of the above reasons, for Vallejo Historic Homes, Cape Cod Revival is treated as its own style. 

Ranch

Beginning in Southern California in the mid 1930’s the Ranch style quickly spread across the country. These homes were popular in the larger, more fancy style and a smaller simpler form until the mid 1970s.

The Ranch Style is a sprawling, informal style focused on suburban family life.

Ranch homes are broad, single-story structures with exposed, overhanging eaves. The front entrance will be covered and usually have some type of porch for sitting. There will often be multiple types of cladding such as brick, wood planks, stucco, or wood shingles.

These homes were oriented to accentuate the privacy of a suburban backyard, often with the home wrapping around the back patio. The main room of these homes (living room and dining room together) was usually set up with windows and a door to easily see and directly access the back patio. 

The rambling shape and big yards of Ranch style only made sense in a suburban location, where large lots were more affordable and where families were more likely to want to spend time outside. 

Commuting the long distance between a job in the city and a suburban home usually required owning a car. It was the automobile that made the Ranch style possible.  

It is easy to miss what is interesting and fun about these homes, so the next time you see one, look closely. They are a snapshot of a scaled back, family-oriented Mid-century Modern ideal.

Mid-century Modern

The term Mid-century Modern was created in the mid 1980s to distinguish “Modern” art (1940-1960) from what was modern at the time. 

When these homes were built, they were referred to merely as “Modern”. The most recognizable style in this group is the Contemporary Style (usually called Mid-century Modern.

Historically, architecture has defined the outside of a building only. For example, the homes of the 1930s tend to look identical on the inside even though they are very different from one another on the outside. 

The Contemporary style broke the mold. It was the first architectural style to be defined from the inside out. These homes have a low pitched roof supported by a post and beam system which creates a broad open interior that became the focus of the style. 

The interiors incorporate a wide variety of natural textures and materials. These homes have a very spacious feel. Plate glass walls were also common, as were windows in the eaves. 

In California, Joseph Eichler became famous for creating an adaptation of the Contemporary Style called The California Modern. 

The distinction between other architectural styles and vernacular is that the above styles are just too rare in Vallejo to be included for the purpose of this guide and vernacular homes were either not built in an architectural style or have been altered from a style.

Vernacular

These are usually homes built without the intention for a specific style. Sometimes these are called folk houses. They are often examples of very beautiful or charming homes which do not clearly fall into one category over another. 

There are also older homes which, while they still have great charm, have lost their character-defining details to the degree that they can no longer be classified as their original style. These homes are treated as vernacular. 

Building types

There are a few building types that, even though they are not architectural styles, are important to mention. 

Split-level is a popular building form that was widely adapted to architectural styles of the 1930s-1950s. Here in Vallejo, this building was common in homes from the late 1930s and early 1940s.

These homes have the garage tucked under the home, with the main floor of the home split to be next to and above the garage. There will be a partial staircase of 6-8 steps between the garage and the first floor, rather than the normal 12-16 steps. The living quarters, accessed with another half staircase, will be on their own level above the garage. It is not uncommon for there to be a 3rd level above the main living area.

Split-level homes are a significant part of the fabric of historic and vintage property here in Vallejo. Even though this is not an architectural style, it is included in the Vallejo Historic Homes website and online reports as if it was. 

Vallejo split-level homes are often ingeniously dressed up with different facades, roof shapes, wall cladding, and trim for variety. 

There are places here in town where entire streets were built with split-level homes using the exact same floor plan. However, because of the many ways these homes can be trimmed out, you wouldn’t know they have the same floor plan if you didn’t look carefully. Often people living on the same street don’t know.

The split-level building type is often used to create styles popular at the time. Spanish Revival is the most common example.

This building form was extremely popular and had two traits that homeowners loved.

First, because the garage was tucked under the home, the building took up less space on the lot. This left more room for the yard. 

Second, homebuyers also liked that these homes looked like larger homes. The way the levels of these homes are stacked makes it easy to adapt them to resemble larger manor homes.

In many cases, Vallejo Split-level homes (mostly from the late 1930s and early 1940s) would probably be Vernacular. However, they are so specifically defined in Vallejo that for the purposes of this guide they are treated as if they were an architectural style. 

Four-square – This type of building has 4 equal sides and is most often a two story building with a hip roof. This building shape is a very efficient way to use inside space. 

It is also a very adaptable building type. Here in Vallejo, most Four-squares are Colonial Revival, but there are examples of adaptations that are Queen Anne, Craftsman, and others.

A special note from the author:

The architectural styles in this guide have minor alterations to suit the specific architecture of Vallejo. 

I have, for example, made Cape Cod Revival its own style when it would normally be a part of the Minimal Traditional style. In Vallejo, Cape Cod Revival homes are not found associated with Minimal Traditional neighborhoods at all, and in fact are usually larger homes in more exclusive areas. For this reason I have separated them. 

On the other hand, Ranchette, which is properly a part of the Ranch Style, has been included with Minimal Traditional. In Vallejo, Ranchette homes occur alongside Minimal Traditional with surprising consistency. For this reason I have included them as a part of that style. 

Shingle is an East Coast Mansion style. The way this style represents itself here in Vallejo would be almost unrecognizable to someone who was only familiar with the original version. 

In addition to other ways where I have altered a more traditional interpretation of architecture to suit the unique situation of Vallejo, I have altered the Historic Areas of Vallejo to more closely represent the architectural character of the homes in the area.

At times I have moved the established and accepted lines of a neighborhood. At other times I have broken an established area apart. 

For more information and how this was done, please see our disclosures