Architecture

Given that its earliest structures date back to the 18th century and nearly half of its homes were built before World War II, New Orleans boasts a variety of historic architecture. Here is a break-down of common characteristics of New Orleans architecture:

Building types: the framing and structure of the building.

Click to jump to architectural styles of New Orleans »

Creole Cottage (1790s – 1870s)

creole cottage

  • oldest type of building still found in the city
  • common in the French Quarter, Marigny, and Bywater
  • one or one-and-a-half stories tall
  • two rooms wide and two rooms deep
  • symmetrical facade – four openings with shutters
  • brick or weatherboard
  • gabled roof running parallel to the street
  • close to the property line or the street

Townhouse (1790s – 1890s) 

townhouse

  • common in the CBD and Garden District
  • narrow and long footprint
  • two or three stories tall
  • asymmetrical facade
  • brick or stucco
  • balcony on the second floor
  • side gabled or hipped, deeply pitched roof

Centerhall Cottage (1830s – 1880s) 

centerhall

  • based on the creole cottage
  • central hallway running front to back
  • deep front porch with a flat roof
  • symmetrically placed columns and central stairs
  • symmetrical facade – windows to each side of the front door
  • weatherboard sheathing
  • side gabled roof with dormers

Shotgun (1830s – 1950s) 

  • most prevalent style in the city
  • strong resemblance to 18th century Caribbean housing
  • single or double formations
  • sometimes camelbacked – with a second story in the back
  • three to five rooms deep
  • each room opens into the next
  • front gabled or hipped roof

Bungalow (1910s – 1950s) 

bungalow

  • one or one-and-a-half stories tall
  • as wide as it is deep
  • irregular floor plan
  • deep front porch covered by an extension of the roof
  • asymmetrical facade
  • complex roof plans

ARCHITECTURAL STYLES: decorative elements of the building.

Creole (1800s – 1840s) 

creole style

  • melding of the French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences
  • brick, stucco, or weatherboard sheathing
  • shuttered french doors and windows
  • unroofed second floor galleries
  • commonly creole cottages and townhouses

Greek Revival (1820s – 1860s) 

green revival

  • elements reminiscent of Greek temples
  • wide, flat, and plain or pedimented trim around windows and doors
  • porches with full-height rounded or boxed columns
  • porches topped with triangular pediments or flat entablatures
  • stucco or wood (scored to look like stone blocks)
  • commonly townhouses, mansions, and plantations

Italianate (1850s – 1880s) 

italianate

  • based on Italian Renaissance and Northern Italian architecture
  • tall, double-hung, multi-paned windows
  • arched windows and doors with hood moldings
  • symmetrical facades and hipped roofs
  • horizontally protruding eaves supported by ornate brackets
  • commonly shotguns

Queen Anne & Eastlake (1870s – 1900s) 

queen anne

  • very ornate and elaborate – pierced, cut, and turned – woodwork
  • wooden shingle siding in a variety of shapes and patterns
  • wrap-around porches and complex roof plans
  • turrets and towers
  • stained glass windows
  • commonly shotguns and large mansions

Colonial or Neoclassical Revival (1870s – 1930s) 

colonial revival

  • based on the symmetrical, classical architecture of the 18th century
  • multi-paned windows
  • porches with full-height columns
  • sidelights on either side of the front door
  • often mixed with Victorian styling or even arts and crafts elements

Arts and Crafts (1900s – 1940s)

arts and crafts house

  • influenced by California Craftsman, English Arts and Crafts, and Midwest Prairie styles
  • unadorned and bulky structural building elements
  • natural and rustic building materials – wood siding, masonry, and concrete blocks
  • small, patterned window panes
  • raised half a story with a masonry or stucco foundation
  • mostly bungalows but also shotguns

FUN FACT: What’s the difference between porches, balconies, and galleries?

A porch is attached to the residence at the ground level, typically extends the full width of the building, and covered by a roof.

A balcony projects three to four feet from the facade of the building and is not covered by a roof overhead.

A gallery extends over the property lot line, where the building is constructed right at the line. Therefore, the gallery extends over the sidewalk and is supported by posts or columns that rest on the curb. It is often covered by an extension of the roof. Bonus points: double-gallery houses have galleries across the facade on the ground and upper level.