Style Points | The Colonials

Rooted in American history and tradition, the Colonial Revival style and its popular angled-roof cousin, the Dutch Colonial Revival, were some of the Alameda neighborhood’s earliest and sturdiest looking homes. The style takes it primary influence from New England homes of the 1700s and 1800s and is intended to call to mind the traditional American virtues of civility, practicality, and patriotism. Alameda’s early builders were searching for designs that would appeal to the aesthetic interests of well-to-do buyers. The Colonial, and its variations, were an important part of the style palette for builders of that era.

This Colonial Revival home at the corner of NE Regents and Dunckley was built in 1939 by Frank A. Read, a prolific Alameda builder of the 1930s and early 1940s. Use of brick around the entry door brings a modernizing touch to the traditional clapboard exterior. The plunging roofline from the roof peak to above the entry traces a link to early 17th Century New England homes. The use of a garrison style overhang between the first and second floor, and pendant drops at the corners, clearly ties the design to its colonial influences. Other Frank Read homes of this period use many of the same building materials and design references. Photo courtesy of John Haleston.

While not the most common house style in Alameda, the Colonial and Dutch Colonial are notable because they mark both the earliest wave of building in the neighborhood during 1911-1912, as well as some of the last houses built on the dwindling supply of vacant lots in the 1950s. The early Colonial Revivals (such as the Harold Prince house at 2815 NE Alameda) are classic examples of the style, while the later homes more freely interpret the Colonial style and add in other influences like the bungalow or the Norman farmhouse.

Here are some telltale signs of the Colonial Revival and Dutch Colonial Revival:

Colonial Revival

  • Rectangular shape;
  • Typically symmetrical form and placement of double-hung windows, often with decorative shutters;
  • Front door placed at the center, often with ornate portico;
  • Second floor dormers with double-hung windows and decorative shutters, placed symmetrically on the building face;
  • Clapboard exteriors, typically painted white;
  • Sometimes featuring a slightly overhanging second floor, known as a “garrison style;”
  • Decorative pendants, drops or spheres.
  • Central (and sometime grand) staircases that lead direct from the entryway to the second floor.

Dutch Colonial Revival

The Dutch Colonials often feature some or all of the features noted above, but have the distinctive angled roof, called a gambrel style (a barn-like roof) and are typically smaller than the Colonial Revivals.

The most prolific designer and builder of the Colonial Revival in Alameda was Frank A. Read. Between 1926 and 1941, Read built 15 homes in the neighborhood, most of them Colonial Revivals, many of them clustered together in locations north of the Alameda Ridge.

In addition to Read’s sense for design, he had good business sense for real estate development and for construction economies of scale. Located within 100 yards of each other in this portion of the neighborhood are a dozen other homes built by Read. The places where he chose to build were a quick walk from a stop on the Broadway streetcar which ran to 29th and Mason. Read was born in Portland in 1885 and lived on the east side most of his life. He died in June 1950, survived by his wife Mae and three brothers. His obituary in the Oregon Journal described him as a builder and contractor for more than 40 years.

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