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Childhood memories of the Queen Anne

It began to snow so heavily that our school sent all the children home. I grew tired of waiting for our father to pick us up, and decided to walk. I could not persuade my sister to accompany me so I set out alone. I was in kindergarten.

I had never walked to school, which lay three miles away from my home on Highwood Avenue, but I seemed to know where to go although the hills were steep and the trees were tall and dark and the snow was falling fast.

I met an older girl along the way who was friendly and doubtful I should go on, but I knew I could not go back. I do not remember becoming cold or the roads I walked. I remember that the slate sidewalks of Highwood had vanished under snow and my father's headlights were bright as he arrived home just as I did to tell my mother that he could not find me. He spanked me in the snow. My mother met me at the turret door, and cheered me on. So is character set, and reset!

Some time that spring, I climbed to the top of the beech tree that had grown up beside the tower. It was a lovely climb. Protected by the tree I climbed toward the sky. I moved past the windows of the tower until I stood above the steeply pitched gable roof and chimneys and wished I could go higher. I was sorry to come back down. Consternation met me below, but not from my mother.

The benevolent spirit of that house presided over my childhood. It was there I drove my tricycle past the front door, down the wrap-around porch. There inside the house, on the kitchen table, the thread of his needle making a soft shushing sound, Dr Gould stitched up my forehead. There in the twilight created by curtains drawn against the dawn, I secretly eliminated all traces of my Irish terrier's misdeeds on the floorboards. There I first threw up my window sash to look at a sunny morning and there one evening I nodded to my parents' guests and opened the front door with its pane of glass and sleepwalked out to dance class.

Then the house was swept away, and we moved to a house without benevolence but surrounded by long roads where my sister and I spent the summer on our bikes.

The old house was a Queen Anne, a style which flourished in America between 1880 and 1910. It was quite different from the Queen Anne houses built in Britain during Anne's reign.

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Pallant House, now a gallery in Chichester, built in 1712.
Image: Urban75

In short, Queen Anne is a misnomer of a name, but its origins are British, as Andover Historic Preservation helpfully explains.

The Queen Anne style was named and popularized by a group of English architects who borrowed the visual vocabulary of late medieval styles, including half timbering and patterned surfaces.

The William Watts Sherman house in Newport, Rhode Island, built by Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson and featuring a half-timbered second story, is recognized as the first Queen Anne style house built in America. The British government introduced Queen Anne to America with several buildings it constructed for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and helped to launch a style that soon replaced Second Empire as the country’s most popular and fashionable domestic architecture style.

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This Queen Anne style house on Barnard Street has a complex cross-gabled form with an overhanging roof gable, prominent bay window and decorated chimney. No tower, but notice the beech tree on the right.

High-style Queen Anne houses are the most exuberantly decorated and ornate manifestations of Victorian-era architecture. The style’s defining characteristics include an asymmetrical façade; a partial or full-width one-story porch that frequently wraps around one or both sides; a steeply pitched, irregularly-shaped gable roof; elaborate chimneys; towers, turrets and other wall projections (bays and overhangs); and multiple surface materials creating textured walls. Windows generally have simple surrounds and single-paned sashes. Entrance doors are single and often feature carved detailing and a pane of glass in the upper half.

It was a wonderful house for a child.

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