Fulton new york historic color scheme

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28, 2017


Prepared by Susan Arena, Worcester, Massachusetts

Identifying Your Style
The following is not an exhaustive look at all styles in history, but those that are most likely to occur in Fulton. When discussing style, buildings are slotted into two categories: High Style and Vernacular. “High Style” examples were generally designed by professional architects and include many of the characteristics associated with a style, thereby representative of popular trends of the period. “Vernacular” examples are regional interpretations where local craftsmen would incorporate selected aspects of a style, generally resulting in a more modest design. These are less pure and sometimes more difficult to identify. Fulton features a mix of “high style” and “vernacular”, though the latter will be more prevalent.
Use the definitions below to help decide what style your home is. Once you’ve determined the style, you may select an approved color scheme from the coordinating chart, found in the Paint Colors section. Be sure to read the Guidelines first for additional information.

Gothic Revival / Italianate / Second Empire (c1840-1880)

Though these are three distinct styles, their periods of prominence overlapped and they share many characteristics. For simplicity, they are being discussed here as a group. Falling into the Picturesque era, these styles focused on the relationship of the indoors with the surrounding environment. They introduced a variety of materials, and innovative building methods.

  • Most often on an irregular footprint with an asymmetrical façade

  • Window hoods present; windows often paired as well

  • Brackets were very common, either single or paired

  • Sometimes feature a tower or cupola

  • Single story porches were very common, sometimes in multiples

  • Gothic Revival most often featured steeply pitched gables, pointed arch windows, and gingerbread or vergeboard trim.

  • Italianate was most likely of the three to have a center entry and symmetrical façade. Also, very popular for commercial buildings on the late 19th century.

  • Second Empire is easily identified by its Mansard roof, a double pitched line that allowed for the top floor to be more wholly occupied.

Queen Anne (c1870-1910)

This style was popular during the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, leading to the common, use of the term “Victorian” in reference to these houses. The industrial revolution introduced new technologies that allowed for building elements to be mass produced resulting in an excess of decorative elements.

  • Asymmetrical footprint

  • Often 2 to 2½ story

  • Prominent porches featuring turned posts and delicate spindlework

  • Prevalent use of applied decoration to flat surfaces

  • Emphasis on variety of textures and colors; mix of siding materials and shingle shapes

  • Towers and curved elevations are common

Colonial Revival (c1890-1960)

This era ushered in a rebirth of early American styles based primarily on Georgian and Federal, with secondary influence from Postmedieval English (Tudor) and Dutch. In Revival form elements from different styles are often combined for a less pure, more eclectic result.

  • Most commonly 2-story

  • Usually symmetrical, side gabled with a center entry

  • Entry was often accentuated by decorative crown and pilasters

  • Hipped or gable roof; gambrel roof less common

  • Entry porch or shallow shelter over door; or full width 1-story porch

Craftsman / Bungalow (c1910-1940)

Created as a reaction to the overindulgence of the Victorian Era, Craftsman houses are defined by a more streamlined, linear character. Introduced in California, the style features a clean, restrained presence consisting of straight lines and minimal decorative detailing.

  • Most commonly 1 to 1½ story

  • Low pitched roofs were most often gabled, either side or front

  • Exposed rafter tails and/or knee braces under the roofline

  • Wide, deep porches across the front and/or rear elevations

  • Wide, flared porch columns

  • Gable or shed-roofed dormers often present

Post-War (c1940-1960)

Considerably smaller than 19th century residences, this era included the revival of the Cape-Cod type and the introduction of Ranch and Split Level houses. Made popular following WWII when returning soldiers sought modest homes for their families, these styles were often found in planned developments.

  • Often 1 to 1½ story on a rectangular or L-shaped footprint

  • Low-pitched gable or hipped roofs; wide eave overhang common

  • Integrated, attached garage

  • Variety of siding materials (faux stone and brick, wide clapboard, wood shingle)

  • Recessed entryways typical; porches rare


  • Buildings should be painted a color appropriate to the historical period of the architectural style. See Identifying Your Style section above.

  • Day-glow, neon, and metallic colors are inappropriate and the application of these colors alters the architectural character of the building.

  • Paint non-historic elements, such as gutters and downspouts, the least conspicuous color possible to reduce visibility.

  • Previously unpainted surfaces should remain unpainted in the interest of historical accuracy. This generally applies to masonry elements.

  • Destructive paint removal methods, such as sandblasting and power washing, should be avoided. Additionally, the use of heat tools is not recommended. These can be damaging to the underlying material, and may be a safety hazard.

  • Precautions regarding removal of lead paint should be taken. For more information regarding appropriate measures for removal and disposal of lead paint, visit the New York State Department of Health website.

Additional References

  • NPS Preservation Brief #10: Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork

  • NPS Preservation Brief #37: Appropriate Methods of Reducing Lead-Paint Hazards in Historic Housing

  • A Field Guide to American Houses, Virginia and Lee McAlester. (Knopf)

Where the Colors Go
Body refers to the main color of the house, the siding.

Trim is the area surrounding doors and windows, and along the cornice.

Accent color will be used on the doors, and shutters if present. Additional decorative elements such as brackets and window hoods may be a combination of the accent and trim color.




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