Chateauesque architecture is rare in America. However, this architectural style has always been a landmark presence where ever it exist. Chateauesque architecture style is based on the French chateaus of the 16th century in the Loire Valley of France. Being a revival style, Chateauesque homes are typically built as an asymmetrical plan. The design has many broken roof-lines and a facade consisting of recessing and protruding planes. Wealthy Americans designed and built their home in this eclectic style in the United States. Furthermore, architects designed public buildings using this style just like the ornately crafted Beaux-Arts architecture style.
Between the 1880’s and 1900’s, Chateauesque designed homes enjoyed popularity among the affluent. In addition, Richard Morris Hunt, who studied architecture in France, made it popular in the United States. His close proximity to the chateaus in France likely, if not entirely, influence his design techniques. Hunt eagerly advocated Chateauesque architecture to his wealthy clients. The Biltmore home was one of Hunt’s designs. This elaborate home is arguably one of Hunt’s greatest work (see photo below).
Construction on the Biltmore lasted six years. The home opened in 1895, but construction work continued for years afterwards.
Identifying Chateauesque architecture
The Chateauesque architecture style is rather easy to identify. The characteristics of Chateauesque styling includes 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 style architecture is very expensive to build. Furthermore, this architecture is not easily or frequently imitated. This is due to the huge amount of detailing, masonry construction, and complex design techniques.