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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daybreak Architecture - American Foursquare

"I love the architecture." - This is one of the most cited reasons that visitors proclaim when they are asked what they like about Daybreak. This answer is sensible considering that Daybreak homes are nothing like homes being built in the rest of Salt Lake Valley. The cookie-cutter stucco wonders have been prolific, riding the wave of the Utah housing boom. Most of these homes vary only slightly in color, style, and placement. Essentially they have almost become a homogeneous commodity that is predictably priced by two factors: size and location. Homes that do not fall into this category tend to be much older. These homes reside on the east side of Salt Lake City and Sugarhouse and were models from which Daybreak was inspired. Kennecott has calculated this factor and promoted it in a mass of billboards, radio ads, and other media. Home buyers have definitely responded by purchasing over 1200 homes in Daybreak in the last few years.

While many people admire the architecture of Daybreak, many visitors (even some homeowners) cannot identify the style
of architecture of the homes that they adore so much. In this and many following posts I will analyze the architecture that makes Daybreak a unique community.

The style of home that seems to appear the most in advertisements and on most streets, (especially in Founders Village) is the American Foursquare (AF). This style is one of the few styles that can be considered distinctive American architecture. While this style comes in many varieties and can have a gamut of features, all AFs share a list of common features:

  • Square box shape
  • Symmetrical placement of windows and other features
  • 2 ½ Stories with a full basement
  • Centered dormer on top
  • Full width porch with simple columns
  • Low, pyramidal hipped roof

The AF was the antithesis and reaction to the extremely ornate Victorian homes and other revival styles popular in the late 1800s. The AF style started to gain traction in the mid 1890s and lasted until the 1930s. The design exploits every square foot of space and can be built efficiently as many of the materials can be measured to a uniform length. The elements of the AF were so easy to create that entire AF homes could be ordered from a Sears Roebuck catalog. The materials were turned out (in numbered pieces) and shipped to the home site where they were easily assembled. These features and the fact that the AF fit well on narrow land lots fared well with the American middle-class budget.

As with any home style features were borrowed from styles that were popular in the past. Craftsman, Prairie, and Greek Revival elements can all be identified in the basic AF style. AF houses were built using a variety of materials including brick, rock, and wood. Using these materials, AF houses were built to last and they did; few cities and towns across the nation lack at least a few good examples of AF houses. If you walk down the streets in Salt Lake City, especially in Sugarhouse, you can see many old, fine examples from the original era. This distinctive architectural style definitely belongs in Daybreak. Maybe now you will hear someone use the term American Foursquare instead of “the big yellow box on the corner.”


dave said...

very interesting, love the posts!

Anonymous said...

Off topic but appreciate comment. What would a commute time from Daybreak to Orem(Geneva Steel) be like.

I really like the concept of Daybreak and would live there if feasible.


michelle p said...

hey, this is my friends' home...and it is for sale if anyone is interested :)