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Historic Resources: Housing

House Styles

Residential Architectural Styles in Georgia, from Georgia's Living Places: Historic Houses in Their Landscaped Settings (1991). This manual will be looked at by the Historic Preservation Division staff in the future for possible updating.

House Types

In addition to architectural style, Georgia houses may be categorized by house type, such as "shotgun," "bungalow" or "plantation plain." The simplest definition of house type is the formula, plan + height = type. Thus, two houses with the same floor plan and the same height will belong to the same type.

 Definitions and illustrations of the architectural types identified for Georgia:House Types in Georgia. Read the House Types  article on the New Georgia Encyclopedia website

Ranch Houses
Split-Level Houses

   Also see:Describing historic houses: types and styles - July 2011


The American Small House has been added to the Historic Preservation Division's list of historic house types first included in its 1991 publication, Georgia's Living Places: Historic Houses and their Landscaped Settings. The American Small House is a small single-family house, built in large numbers, all across the state, from the mid-1930s to the early 1950s. Sometimes called minimal traditional houses or simply Cape Cods, they represent a unique national response to the challenge of providing affordable housing during two decades of economic hardship brought about by the Great Depression, World War II, and post-war recovery.

Atlanta Postwar Housing: 1944-1965 (Spring 2001): This report was prepared to assist state and city preservation officials in identifying and determining overall integrity of Post World War II housing landscapes and potential archaeological sites in the Atlanta area.

A Separate Peace: An iconic African American neighborhood (Collier Heights), home to Kings and Hollowells and Abernathys, makes history again by Betsy Riley, Atlanta Magazine - May 2010

Modern Apartment Complexes in Georgia, 1936-1954 is a historic context that supports the evaluation and nomination of modern apartment complexes to the National Register of Historic Places. Written by historian Sidney Johnston of Deland, Florida the historic context was managed by the Historic Preservation Division with funding from the Georgia Department of Transportation. The project was completed in May 2003.

A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War II Housing - developed by the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council, this report provides an approach to the identification and evaluation of postwar housing resources that can be used within the framework of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. 

The report includes a methodology for identification and evaluation of the National Register eligibility and non-eligibility of single-family housing built between 1946 and 1975. The report also includes a national context to understand the development of postwar housing and to help guide the evaluation of postwar residential types.

Ranch Houses

The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation - May 2010 
View online or download pdf; OR download by chapter. 
 - Title page, Acknowledgements, Preface & Table of Contents
 - Introduction
 - Historic Context and Period of Significance
 - Visual Guide to Ranch House Architecture and Landscaping
 - Ranch House Geography
 - Identification, Documentation, and Evaluation
 - Associated Historic Contexts and Future Research
 - Bibliography, Glossary, and Architects & Builders

The guide provides step-by-step procedures for researching, recording, and evaluating Ranch Houses, and identifies sources for future research

As Ranch style homes reach the 50-year mark, preservationists have struggled to evaluate and identify these houses as eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Through a partnership with New South Associates, the Georgia Transmission Corporation, the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Georgia Department of Transportation, a set of guidelines were produced to address issues of context, period of significance, typology, geography and setting of Ranch Houses in Georgia. 

The Ranch House in Georgia
is one of the first publications in the nation to address the evaluation of post WWII housing and will no doubt serve as reference for states across the nation facing similar struggles with this important architectural style from our recent past. It received a 2010 Preservation Service Award from The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Georgia Ranch House Initiative: Mid-20th Century Ranch Houses in Georgia - May 2010
Ranch Houses in Georgia are historic. They are old enough, they are important enough, and they have been studied enough. That is the conclusion of our office's five-year research project to document the history and significance of the Ranch House in Georgia. Take a look behind the scenes to see how it was done.

The Ordinary Iconic Ranch House: Mid-20th-Century Ranch Houses in Georgia summarizes the current findings of our office's on-going ranch-house initiative: to develop a statewide historic context for Georgia's mid-20th-century ranch houses. For ease of viewing, it is presented in six parts. Please keep in mind that this continues to be a work in progress.  As we learn more about these mid-20th-century houses, these presentations will be updated to provide the latest information.  

  1. Part I is an introduction to the Ranch House.  It describes the character-defining features of the Ranch House and places this new house in the broad historical context of mid-20th-century America.
  2. Part II explores the origins and early development of the Ranch House in America prior to World War II.
  3. Part III documents the emergence of the Ranch House nationally as the favored house type at the middle of the 20th century.
  4. Part IV introduces the Georgia Ranch House and provides an overview of the state’s historic Ranch Houses.
  5. Part V identifies the distinctive architectural and historical aspects of the “Georgia” Ranch House.
  6. Part VI offers concluding remarks about Ranch Houses in Georgia and suggests some additional sources of information about Ranch Houses in the United States.

Ranch Houses in Georgia: A Guide to Architectural Styles - May 2010
architectural style is defined in two ways:
(1) the decoration or ornamentation that has been put on a house in a systematic pattern or arrangement to create a specific visual effect; and/or
(2) the overall design of a house including proportions, scale, massing, symmetry or asymmetry, and the relationship among parts such as solids and voids or height, depth, and width

Ranch Houses in Georgia: A Guide to House Types (Sub-Types) - May 2010
House Type = Plan (or plan-shape) + Height (or mass-form)

Single-Family Residential Development in DeKalb County, Georgia 1945-1970 - May 2010
This 136 page report was written by Georgia State University Heritage Preservation Graduate Studies Program students.

DeKalb County Ranch House Initiative - April 2010. Developed by the DeKalb History Center and Commissioner Jeff Rader in an effort to understand the ranch house boom that occurred in nearly every part of DeKalb County beginning in the 1940s.

Split-Level Houses

National history of the Split-Level House - download PDF - view online
Split-Level Houses are a common sight in many mid-20th-century Georgia neighborhoods.  Never as numerous as their Ranch House counterparts, they were nonetheless a popular alternative.  Characterized by their unique form – three staggered half-floor levels – they clearly distinguished themselves from the more prevalent one-story Ranch Houses and the occasional full-two-story houses.  Yet they wore the same architectural styles -- including the “plain” or “red-brick” style -- and they were designed by many of the same designers and built by many of the same builders.

The Split-Level House in Georgia - download PDF - view online
The hey-day of the Split-Level House in Georgia was from the mid-1950s through the 1960s (and on into the 1970s – we’ll be getting to those in a few years).  From being a somewhat quirky alternative to the one-story Ranch House in the early years, by the 1960s the Split-Level House had turned into a strong economical contender due to rising costs of land, smaller subdivision lots, and increasing foundation construction costs – all of which made Ranch Houses more expensive to build and the Split-Level House a “better buy” in its latter years.

Split-Level Houses can be documented using the same field and research techniques recommended for the mid-20th-century Ranch House - see “The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation.”