November 21, 2018
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Home in the Ranch

A popular architectural style explained
Ranch style homes became popular in Evansville during a population growth from 1940-1950.

If you’ve ever wondered what architectural style your home is, you’re not alone. In fact, there is a good chance your home pulls from multiple styles, many of them having gone through several rounds of revivals from their original appearance.

In American home styles throughout the nation, the Victorian (with its multiple types and broad influence), the Tudor revival, Colonial, Craftsman, and Ranch styles dominate much of both old and new home design.

We will start with the Ranch. Before the days of air conditioning, homes benefited from high ceilings and long, tall windows, maximizing hot air moving up and out and cooler air moving in below. As innovative building technologies and efficiencies came along in the mid-20th century, more air volume in a home made it harder to cool. While new forms greatly varied in contemporary architecture, the Ranch style took off like new grass in a fresh housing development. 

The Ranch style’s roots are in its low form and low-pitched, often hipped roofs. The large overhangs of its original inspiration acted as passive solar design, shading windows from the sun but allowing light in when the angle was lower in the winter. The novelty and utility of having all living areas on one floor also became a defining feature. Today, you may see any home with its main living area on one floor referred to as a Ranch, even if it has soaring roof pitches. Ranch homes also may be L-shaped or U-shaped.

In Evansville, the swell in the city’s population from 1940 to 1950 — nearly 30 percent — led to large investments in homes to serve a new generation. Amid the swath of Ranch homes created by this growth, neighborhoods like Arcadian Acres and Audubon Terrace on Evansville’s far East Side, and Blue Ridge/Colony Drive/Meadow Lane near St. Vincent’s Hospital, were built. These canopied neighborhoods are characterized by sprawling Ranch homes, many with notable features like the use of Bedford limestone or Craftsman details.

As the style evolved, it adapted to other home style influences. Pilasters flanking a front door with a pediment above may make a Colonial Ranch. Contemporary angles and modern features make a Contemporary Ranch. Today, Ranch homes commonly combine with Craftsman elements.

Whatever your home’s style, be sure to make it your own. Local art and good vibes of warm love are strongly encouraged.

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