Queen Anne Victorian Cottage

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The Queen Anne style of architecture is easily recognized with crossed gables, turrets, or cupolas, wrap-around porches and porticos. It is identified as a cottage by its smaller size. During the Victorian period in Texas, roughly 1870-1905, the architecture tended to be ornate. The use of multiple textures and patterns was meant to break the monotony of sameness and create a feeling of expanded height and size. This house, built around 1885, was originally located in Gainesville, and was relocated to the Historical Park in 1992 with restoration completed in 1996.

The Queen Anne Victorian Cottage was originally built at 501 West Broadway in Gainesville, Texas, in 1885, and is architecturally typical of small cottages built during the late Victorian era in Texas. By 1907, it was occupied by the Basinger family and their descendents, who lived in the home until it was moved to the Historical Park in April 1992. It was restored to its 1885 appearance, dedicated, and opened for tours in 1997.
Queen Anne was the most popular type of late Victorian domestic architecture and is perhaps the most inaccurately named of such styles. After all, Queen Anne’s reign dates from 1702-1714, but it is the last decades of Queen Victoria’s reign from 1860-1900 that are generally known as “Victorian.” The Queen Anne style was introduced to the United States in the Centennial celebrations of 1876 and quickly spread throughout the country. Americans copied some of the concepts, but added their own flair.

Farmers Branch was a rural farming community in the 1880s and 1890s. It is unlikely that a Queen Anne Victorian Cottage was built here, however, it is representative of homes built in more commercial towns across North Texas during the 1880s, like Gainesville. Farmers Branch residents were probably familiar with Victorian homes, as many were built in nearby Carrollton and Dallas.

Victorians enjoyed the elegant and conspicuous display of wealth through bold colors and designs on walls and ceilings. The papers in the cottage were manufactured in the way that the original wallpapers in the house would have been produced--by a hand screening process. The wallpapers that hang in the Basinger’s home currently are more grand than what the Basinger’s originally had. Remnants of the original wallpaper are kept in collections storage, but are more muted and less fanciful in design than those on the walls.

Many pieces of furniture selected for this Victorian Cottage are of Eastlake “inspired” style characterized by straight lines and geometric incised designs. This style gets its name from Charles Eastlake (1836-1906), an English architect and writer who had great impact on the trends of the time. Eastlake stressed simplicity in construction and design, advocating furniture constructed in box-like fashion from sturdy oak, embellished with simple geometric designs. American renderings of Eastlake style furniture are most accurately called “Eastlake inspired,” for American craftsman created variants of Eastlake’s intentions by working in dark walnut and burl panels using many of the fancy features Eastlake disdained. The window, door frames and casings in the Victorian Cottage are in the Eastlake style.