Chateauesque home designs are rare in America, yet this architectural style has always been a landmark presence where ever it exist. Chateauesque architecture is a style based on the French chateaus of the 16th century in the Loire Valley of France. Being a revival style, Chateauesque house plans are typically built as an asymmetrical plan with many broken roof-lines and a facade consisting of recessing and protruding planes. This eclectic style was mostly designed in the United States as private homes for the very wealthy and was occasionally used for public buildings just like the ornately crafted Beaux-Arts architecture style.
Between the 1880’s and 1900’s, Chateauesque designed homes enjoyed popularity among the affluent. It was made popular in this country by Richard Morris Hunt, who studied architecture in France. His close proximity to the chateaus in France likely, if not entirely, influence his design techniques in which he eagerly advocated to his wealthy clients. Arguably, Hunt’s greatest work was completed in 1895 and we know it simply as, The Biltmore (see photo below).
Chateauesque style architecture is rather easy to identify. The characteristics of Chateauesque house plans include steeply pitched hipped roofs that either rise to a high pyramidal or break to form a very low pitched or flat roof, multiple busy roof lines, multiple dormers either on the roof or breaking through the cornice, and stone finished veneer. Towers or turrets are often present with steep conical roofs and the dormers are normally parapet gables with or without vertical elements such as spires, pinnacles, and turrets. Other features include ornamental metal cresting on roof ridges, windows divided by stone mullions with transoms above, and arched window and doors sometimes of Gothic influence.
Chateauesque house designs are very expensive to build. Because of the huge amount of detailing, masonry construction, and complex designs, this style is not easily or frequently imitated.