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Architects of the Past: Eccentric Architectural Styles in Florida Houses



Everyone who comes to Florida can find both modern skyscrapers and authentic houses that have preserved the spirit and atmosphere of past eras and distant times. Architects of the past strove for unique styles creating their own author’s methods and paying special attention to the true Floridian style. This is how several original styles were born in the architecture of this sunshine state, which is Florida.RealEstate experts want to get to know them better in this new article and tell readers in detail about their features and nuances.

Florida Vernacular

Florida Vernacular is a folk building designed and built by local architects and artisans from improvised materials. The slope of the roof, the size of the porch, and the decorative wooden elements were different in this area and adapted to the local construction materials and climate. Most of the buildings were built between 1895 and 1915. However, there are also earlier examples from 1885 to 1895.

Early Florida Vernacular

Early Florida Vernacular-style houses are rectangular and built on brick supports, i.e. raised above the ground for better air circulation in a hot climate. The roofs have a steep slope and are finished with wooden tiles. There is an attic in such buildings. The less the house borrowed elements from Victorian styles, the flatter it was.

They were 2-3 stories, while in the previous style of Old Florida Cracker — 1-1.5 stories. Almost all of them were built of pine of the “Dade County” type, which is extremely resinous and repels termites to prevent the destruction of these buildings.

Facades are covered with horizontal siding. Railings, verandah columns, and decorative brackets under the roof are the most decorated elements of this architectural style in houses.

Vernacular Masonry Style

After the 1896 fire that destroyed the city of West Palm Beach, local architects began using refractory materials to design new houses in Florida. The floor was covered with clay tiles, concrete blocks or bricks. This is how the Vernacular Masonry Style of brick and block houses was created, which consists of cottage or bungalow type houses. Roofs and attics are covered with wooden patterned and multicolored tiles.


They have recessed verandas with overhanging gables or hipped roofs. There are decorative railings, columns and brackets under the roof.

Mid-Century Vernacular

The latest version, Mid-Century Vernacular (1935-1945), is much more rational and has fewer decorations. These buildings look like ordinary Ranch-style houses. It is essentially a Mid-Century Modern style, but it was originally from Florida Vernacular.

Sliding glass doors to the garden and aluminium windows are the most popular elements here. Such houses are built of brick or concrete blocks and have a carport. The windows around the front door are huge and panoramic.

Art Deco Miami Beach

Art Deco Miami Beach is not a style, but a whole American phenomenon that was created on the ruins. After the hurricane in South Beach in 1926, which destroyed many hotels in Miami, the city experienced a huge construction boom of mini-hotels and private homes. Typical Art Deco houses have flat roofs, smooth walls with stucco moulding and rounded rooftop corners and bold facade colours.

Building new houses after this natural cataclysm coincided with the Paris Art Deco exhibition in 1925, insanely famous in Europe. Thus, South Beach rebuilt an entire block to restore the city and make it more attractive. It includes over 800 Art Deco buildings and thousands more imitating them.

The American architectural style of Art Deco combines several different styles:

•        The first one is the Egyptian Renaissance, which is famous for elongated facades and decorative elements of exteriors. This style is also characterized by facades in the form of a pharaoh’s headdress with a “crest” protruding in the middle.

•        The second one — 1930s Hollywood — is well-traced in interior design. They are glossy and painted in cold colors but luxurious and artistic.

•        The third one is Conch in tropical pastel colors of Miami Beach.


A Conch-style house that originated in Key West, Florida, in the 19th century is famous throughout the state. Immigrants from the Bahamas, who brought their vision of ideal architecture, were among the founders of this new style.

This is a small wooden house covered with siding and painted pastel shades. In addition, the Conch style is popular in the city for mini-hotels.

Some Conch-style buildings look more complicated than others because they borrow various architectural techniques from such Victorian styles as Queen Anne or Istlake. Many Conch-style houses are similar to shotgun cottages.

The most popular colors of the Conch style are

•        White;

•        Pink;

•        Mint;

•        Cream;

•        Pale peach;

•        Yellow;

•        Blue,

•        Light green.

Fantasy Style

Villa Zorayda can be considered the first example of fantasy-style architecture in the state and the mother of Disney World.


The eccentric millionaire Franklin W. Smith, inspired by the Moorish Alhambra Palace in Granada, built Villa Zorayda as his private home in St. Augustine. He was a wealthy man who loved to travel around Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. During his trip to southern Spain, Smith was fascinated by the Moorish Butler of the Alhambra, which inspired him and gave him the idea for his home in Florida. He designed the villa himself. Franklin W. Smith used new concrete construction technology, enriching it with crushed local rock-shell limestone.

His winter home, Villa Zorayda, was the first building that marked the beginning of Moorish-Spanish Renaissance architecture. The house was the first building that returned from Latin American architecture to the former Spanish colony of Florida. Entering the building, you can feel the atmosphere of the Great Gilded Age with its beautiful Moorish horseshoe arches, elegant patterns, and columns copied by the Alhambra Palaces.

Summing up

As you can see, Florida is rich in authentic and interesting styles that vividly reveal its character and set it apart from other places. This state has historically developed its own architectural path reflecting its bright personality.

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