Mini castles for sale: 3 Romanesque Revival houses to buy

From the Beaux-Arts proportions to the ostentatiousness of the French Château style, American architecture in the nineteenth century—particularly the second half of the nineteenth century—drew inspiration from a wide range of nations and construction types.

Few structures, however, are as commanding as those constructed in the Romanesque Revival style.

Romanesque architecture emerged in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. The rounded arch, which was notably developed in ancient Rome, was emphatically employed everywhere it could, such as barrel-vaulted corridors, arched doors, and windows, and is now best visible throughout medieval cathedrals in France and Germany.

The Romanesque resurgence, which lasted around 700 years and was popular from the 1870s until around 1900, continued the frequent usage of the rounded arch. The renaissance also combined the archway with other eye-catching features such as rough, hefty stone and finely carved woodwork. The appearance of these buildings, best advocated by Gilded Era architect H.H. Richardson, resembled fortresses. They exuded weight and permanency.

While the design was popular for public buildings, many people had their homes built in it. These are three that are currently available.

A Romanesque revival house in Albany. Courtesy of Zillow.

Albany, NY (11 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, $799,000)

Can you see what we mean about Romanesque revival homes resembling castles? The mansion, which was built in 1892 for a wealthy inventor, has all of the trademarks of the architecture, including massive masonry, arched windows, two rounded turrets, and a wide arched entryway, to mention a few.

Even though the woodwork is heavy—and abundant—on the inside, the house is surprisingly bright. The stair hall, with deeply carved beams extending across the ceiling and a bridal staircase that leaves no surface unadorned with paneling or otherwise finely carved woodwork, is especially remarkable.

All of the fireplaces appear to be gas, which was a typical occurrence in late-Victorian buildings as non-wood heating methods gained favor. Each firebox is adorned with opalescent tile and a sculpted mantle. Carvings in Romanesque dwellings are sometimes extremely intricate and appear to twist and turn on themselves, reminiscent of sculptures found in medieval Romanesque churches.

A Romanesque revival house in Chicago. Photos courtesy of Zillow.

Chicago, IL (6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, $8.45 million)

This 12,600-square-foot estate has been extensively refurbished, yet much of its 1895 beauty remains. The front porch (note the semi-circular arches) and hexagonal turret add to the house’s curb charm. The stone carvings also define the floor separation: a band of smooth stone covers the first level, while a double band of rough stone divides the second and third floors.

The woodwork on the inside is kept to a minimum (we assume part of it was removed at some stage), allowing the focus to be placed on the exceptionally high ceilings that run across the first level. The living room’s cove ceiling with the turreted nook is really stunning.

A Romanesque revival townhouse in Brooklyn. Photos courtesy of Zillow.

Brooklyn, NY (5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, $6.75 million)

Numerous instances of Romanesque revival architecture may be seen in New York City’s brownstones. The exterior of this Brooklyn home screams Romanesque revival, from the hefty granite to the rounded windows and meandering decorations.

When Brooklyn grew in the early twentieth century, several builders built spec houses in the Romanesque style. This home was presumably a part of the development, given the adjoining townhouses are remarkably identical to it.

Within, the stairwell has dark wood paneling and vegetal carvings that frame the main door and the built-in mirror. While much of the home has been refurbished, some original features remain, particularly on the top floors, where a corridor linking two of the bedrooms with original woodwork, wash basin, and masonry grabbed our curiosity.

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