Swiss Chalet 1885 - 1910
Swiss Chalet houses are typically square or rectangular in plan,
two-and-a-half stories high, have low pitched roofs with front gables,
and wide eaves supported by decorative brackets. Some houses were built
entirely of wood. Others are brick, stone, or stucco with wood upper
floors, or brick with stucco upper floors. On early chalets, wood
siding-both vertical and horizontal-is ornately carved and often
painted. Also characteristic is a decorative treatment of boards
integrated with siding material that appears to expose post-and-beam
construction. The ends of rafters and purlins (structural members that
are part of the roof support system) are generally exposed and are
sometimes carved and painted, Front porches were often featured on later
examples of the style, which are otherwise less elaborate than the
highly decorative earlier homes.
The Swiss Chalet style, never
widespread in the United States, appears to have enjoyed some celebrity
in Cincinnati. The American version of the style was derived from the
Swiss cottage form traditional among Alp-dwellers for hundreds of years.
It is publicized by Andrew Jackson Downing in The Architecture of
Country Houses (1850), a best-selling stylebook that did much to
popularize other romantic styles such as the Gothic Revival.
The style came into vogue in Cincinnati in the late part of the 19th
century. Lucien Plympton, an architect who practiced in Cincinnati in
the 1880s and 90s, was influential in spreading Swiss Chalet locally.
Houses of the style, or with elements of the style such as the
distinctive roof, can be found in many parts of the city, including Hyde Park, East Walnut Hills, and Oakley.
Back to Architecture index page
Back to History Resources page