Queen Anne Style Walter Gale House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Architectural Styles of Palo Alto: Queen Anne

If you admire the charm and exquisite details of old-world architecture, Queen Anne style has probably captured your attention.

As a traditional style that’s full of elegant interior and exterior features, Queen Anne architecture reflects a sophisticated ambiance with classic, turn-of-the-century English beauty. 

Queen Anne Style

The Queen Anne style, often associated with the Victorian era, flourished between 1870 and 1910 during the reign of Queen Anne in England.

Introduced in the 1860s by English architect, Richard Norman Shaw, Queen Anne architecture resembled Victorian architecture, but it was much less formal. Modeled after classic English Tudor homes that belonged to wealthy homeowners, Queen Anne style featured many special details that reflected an opulent lifestyle such as:

  • Steeply pitched, complex slate roofs
  • Patterned shingles (referred to as fish scales)
  • Fake half-timbering
  • Brightly colored siding with contrasting trim
  • Large brick or stone chimneys
  • Front facing towers, turrets and gables
  • Second-story balconies
  • Large wrap-around porches
  • Large bay windows
  • Stained-glass windows
  • Tall double-hung windows accented with art glass or decorative patterns
  • Exquisite, spindle railings and ornamental trim details


Although Queen Anne style architecture developed in England, it quickly became popular in America. During the early 1900s, Queen Anne style homes were built in many affluent New England communities, as well as wealthy communities on the West Coast like Palo Alto in California.

Queen Anne Style in Palo Alto

The coastal Northern California community of Palo Alto includes several wonderful examples of Queen Anne style architecture built between 1880 and 1905.

2275 Amhearst Street(Built in 1893)

Situated on a half-acre, picturesque landscape, this historic seven-bedroom Queen Anne Victorian once belonged to Walter Miller, Stanford University’s first Latin professor and a former mayor of Mayfield. It features a typical wrap-around porch, wooden columns, a front-facing tower, main gable with portholes, and extensive, ornamental detailing on the facade like spindle railings and ornate trim.

As a prime example of Queen Anne style architecture, 2275 Amhearst Street in listed in the city’s Historic Home Registry.

1487 and 1528 College Avenue – (Built in the early 1880s)

  • 1487 College This two-and-one-half story Queen Anne home with a two-story bay tower was one of the early Mayfield houses built to attract homeowners to the College Terrace District in Palo Alto. Known as the “Red House” because of its bright red shingle facade, 1487 College is a great example of early Queen Anne style.
  • 1528 College – With less ornate features, 1528 College was also built as part of the College Terrace District by developer, Alexander Gordon. Major exterior features include a bargeboard facade and a crisply detailed square bay on the front of the house.


The Downing House

The Downing House, located at 706 Cowper Street, is one of the most visited Queen Anne style homes in Palo Alto. Built in 1894 by W. Matlock Campbell, this historic home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As one of the city’s most elaborate examples of Queen Anne style, The Downing House showcases decorative shingles and trim, a two-story witch’s hat tower, and gables that span three stories from the porch overhang to the highest roof line. The Downing House reflects a quaint, gingerbread ambiance with turn-of-the-century, classic Queen Anne architectural features.

Palo Alto is home to many historic homes and buildings that are over 100 years old. A few structures have been demolished over the years, but the majority of them have been purchased and renovated back to their original state of grandeur.

This is the first in a series of blogs in which we will be paying homage to the varying architectural styles of the Palo Alto area, so follow our blog for more on this topic.

If you enjoyed this blog you may want to read our blog about, “Exploring the Unique Architectural Styles in the Bay Area.”

Smith Brothers is a unique team of construction craftsmen, architects, and interior designers. Since 1978, we stress the absolute highest levels of quality, performance, value and service in each and every project. Our award-winning design ideas, expertise, and collective experience allow us to provide the very best in what we do. For more information please contact us at 877-230-0333, (+01) 858-350-1445, or info@smithbrothersconstruction.com.

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