Lowell Has Style - Architectural Style Guide

Lowell's buildings were built in a wide variety of architectural styles, including some of those listed here.  A wide range of historical, social, and environmental factors have influenced the design of the community's varied residential, civic, commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings.

Lowell's neighborhoods were settled at various times.  During the 19th and early 20th centuries when many of Lowell's buildings were built, most architectural styles first developed either in prosperous mercantile cities of the United States or in Europe.  As styles took hold in larger cities such as Boston, local architects and master builders began incorporating characteristic features into the design of their buildings.

Interest in the styles of earlier periods was the primary characteristic of 19th century architecture from Europe to Boston to Lowell. For example, in the first half of the century, the Federal style, inspired by the new federal government, borrowed its form from the English Adam style while the Greek Revival style borrowed its features from classical Greek architecture. In the second half of the century, architectural design became more eclectic with several historic styles being popular at once. Italian villas inspired the Italianate style, French Second Empire buildings inspired the Second Empire or Mansard style, and English Tudor cottages were the inspiration for the Queen Anne style.

It is important to note that buildings are not always clearly representative of a single style but often incorporate elements of several styles. Since architectural styles evolved gradually, it is not unusual to find buildings that exhibit details from several different styles. Not every historic building is a "Colonial" or a "Victorian" as those are umbrella terms, often encompassing several styles and broad periods of time.

Photos in this section are from, but not limited to, Lowell Historic Board, Lowell National Historical Park, City of Lowell, UMass Lowell Center for Lowell History, James Higgins, James Hogan, and Richard Howe, Jr.


                                     Federal
                                Greek Revival
                                Gothic Revival
                                    Italianate
                                Second Empire
                                  Queen Anne
                                      Shingle
                                            Stick
                                 High Victorian Gothic
                            Richardsonian Romanesque
                                     Colonial Revival
                                         Skyscraper