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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin: Historic Residential Suburbs

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service



The central motivation for the invention of the suburban house was the desire of Americans to own a single-family house in a semi-rural environment away from the city-what would become the American dream. Several factors influenced the evolution of suburban house design:
• The lowering of construction costs, accomplished with the invention of the balloon-frame method of construction in the 1830s and successive stages of standardization, mass production, and prefabrication.
• The translation of the suburban ideal into the form of an individual dwelling usually on its own lot in a safe, healthy, and parklike setting.
• The design of an efficient floor plan believed to support and reinforce the ideal family.

The evolution of the American home reflects changing concepts of family life and the ideal suburban landscape. From 1838 to 1960, the design of the single-family, detached suburban home in a landscaped setting evolved in several broad stages from picturesque country villas to sprawling ranch houses on spacious suburban lots.

The Suburban Prerequisite: The Invention of the Balloon Frame:

The widespread adoption of the balloon-frame method of construction, invented in Chicago in the 1830s, along with the invention of wire nails and the circular saw, transformed the character of American housing in the mid-nineteenth century. The lightweight balloon frame consisted of narrow wooden studs and larger joists arranged in a box-like configuration capable of absorbing load-bearing stresses. In comparison to traditional post-and-beam and masonry methods, balloon framing could be quickly assembled at a lower cost with fewer and less experienced workers. Allowing considerable freedom of design in both exterior massing and interior layout, it was well-suited for building homes in the Romantic Revival and Picturesque styles that were coming into vogue in the mid-nineteenth century.(99)

Rural Architecture and Home Grounds, 1838 to 1890:

The suburban home first appeared as a rural villa for the fairly well-to-do family in the mid-nineteenth century. Located "on the edge of the city," it was intentionally designed as a therapeutic refuge from the city, offering tranquility, sunshine, spaciousness, verdure, and closeness to nature-qualities opposite those of city. This ideal was aggressively and persuasively articulated through pattern books, the writings of domestic reformers, and popular magazines. As house designs became adapted for more modest incomes and as advances in transportation lowered the cost of commuting, suburban living became affordable to an increasingly broad spectrum of the population.

Early Pattern Books

Alexander Jackson Davis's Rural Residences (1838) marked the transition from builders' guides, which focused on techniques of joinery and architectural detailing, to a new generation of pattern books. Pattern books were directed at the prospective home owner and featured plans and elevations for ornamented villas and cottages in a variety of romantic revival styles all set in a semi-rural, village setting. Catharine E. Beecher's Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841) called for domestic reform, promoting the idea that rural living was ideally suited for family life, and offering elevations and floor plans for simple houses designed for efficiency and family comfort. With the publication of Cottage Residences (1842) and Architecture of Country Houses (1850), Andrew Jackson Downing soon after popularized a market for pattern books that offered a variety of house types and styles suited for country or village living.

Downing gave detailed architectural expression to the ideal of living in a semi-rural environment, offering designs for villas for the well-to-do and less expensive cottages for lower- income households. Through designs that conformed to a romantic aesthetic for the "beautiful" or the "picturesque," Downing promoted revival styles described as "Italianate," "Tudor Revival," "Bracketed," "Swiss," "Gothic Revival," and "Tuscan." His books also illustrated decorative architectural elements, such as brackets and vergeboards, that could be crafted by most country builders to embellish the simplest home.(100)

Pattern books appeared by a number of architects, including Calvert Vaux, A. J. Bicknell, George E. Woodward, Orson Squire Fowler, William H. Ranlett, and Gervase Wheeler. Godey's Lady's Book, a popular magazine, also offered its readers designs for rural villas and cottages, thereby establishing the important role of periodicals in fostering domestic reform and affecting popular taste.(101)

Landscape Gardening for Suburban Homes Downing's Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841) was the first American published guide for laying out and planting domestic grounds. A nurseryman by trade, Downing fostered an avid interest in horticulture, encouraging home owners to enhance village streets and domestic grounds with plantings drawn from the vast numbers of native and exotic trees and shrubs becoming available in the United States. His books offered simple layouts, extensive instructions, and plant lists for landscaping villas and cottages, often on modestly-sized rectangular parcels of land. To Downing, even the smallest domestic yard was a pleasure ground that offered a sense of enclosure and privacy from the outside world and could be developed with curvilinear paths, lawns, overlooks, tree plantations, specimen trees, and a variety of gardens.

Instructions and site plans for embellishing the grounds of suburban homes appeared regularly in a number of periodicals, including The Horticulturalist, Hovey's Magazine of Horticulture, and Garden and Forest. Between 1856 and 1870, plan books appeared by a number of other landscape gardeners, including Henry W. Cleaveland, Robert Morris Copeland, George E. and F. W. Woodward, and Jacob Weidenmann.(102)

Frank J. Scott was among the first to recognize that the new homes being built outside cities formed neighborhoods that were suburban, not rural, in character. His comprehensive landscape manual, Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds of Small Extent (1870), was intended to help the middle-class home owner achieve beautiful landscape effects that were low in cost and easy to maintain, including graded lawns, ornamental trees and shrubs, and foundation plantings. His influence was extensive, and by the 1870s, suburban streets began to take on a unified landscape character with paved roads, shade trees, entry walks, fences, and stairways, giving definition to the ideal suburban landscape.(103)

Eclectic House Designs and Mail Order Plans

After the Civil War, a new generation of pattern books appeared offering greater variety and complexity in house design and plans well-suited to suburban house lots. Henry Hudson Holly's Modern Dwellings in Town and Country, Adapted to American Wants and Climate (1878) was among the first to advocate architectural eclecticism in which visual and artistic effects-in the design of chimneys, gables, and porches, for example- became important aspects of stylistic appeal. Such books popularized late nineteenth-century styles including the Shingle, Stick, Eastlake, Second Empire, and Queen Anne Revival styles.(104)

Mail order services further democratized home building and added variety and complexity to Victorian-era house design. Model Homes for the People, A Complete Guide to the Proper and Economical Erection of Buildings (1876) was the first in a series of best-selling, inexpensive catalogs by George and Charles Palliser which offered detailed architectural plans by mail for a small fee. The Ladies' Home Journal, under the editorship of Edward Bok beginning in 1889, and a host of catalogs by architects George F. Barber, Robert W. Shoppell, William A. Radford, and others similarly made available architect-designed plans for a nominal cost. This practice continued in the twentieth century, carried on by architect-sponsored small house service bureaus and stock plan companies, such as Garlinghouse of Topeka, Kansas.(105)

The Homestead Temple-House

Working-class families sought separation from the city and privacy from neighbors in modest, detached homes on the narrow, rectangular lots of gridiron subdivisions. By the 1860s, a freestanding house type, the "homestead temple-house," gained popularity in the rapidly growing industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest. Derived from the earlier Greek Revival house and typically adorned by a stylish doorway or colonnaded porch, the house was turned so that the gabled end faced the street and the floor plan extended deeply into the lot.(106)

The popularity of this house type persisted throughout the nineteenth century, allowing working-class families to live in suburban neighborhoods close to railroad stations and later along streetcar routes. It appeared in several forms from a simple one-story, "shotgun" home in the South to the double- and triple-decker multiple family dwellings of the Northeast, this type assumed a variety of architectural styles ranging from Classical and Gothic Revivals to Italianate and Queen Anne Revival. The crowded and repetitious character of such neighborhoods would attract the criticism of twentieth-century reformers.

The Practical Suburban House, 1890 to 1920:

The expansion of streetcar transportation in American cities coincided with fundamental changes in the perception of the ideal family and a revision of what constituted the best suburban home. Progressive ideals emphasizing simplicity and efficiency called for house designs that reflected less hierarchical relationships, technological innovations, and a more informal and relaxed lifestyle.(107)

New subdivisions provided utilities and amenities not available elsewhere. In many places, they benefited from the street improvements, park and boulevard systems, and public utility systems that resulted from the City Beautiful movement and an emerging interest in city planning as the means for Progressive reform.

Technological innovations introduced to improve household life-central heating, gas hot water heaters, indoor plumbing, and electricity-entailed expensive mechanical systems that increased the cost of construction. The reduction of floor space and the use of standardized plans helped offset the rising cost of home construction and put home ownership within reach of more Americans. First appearing in the 1890s, the bungalow reflected the desire for an affordable single-family house for households without servants. These houses, and a somewhat large type known as the foursquare, were sold by catalog and became the first mass-produced houses in the United States.(108)

The Open Plan Bungalow

By 1910, the bungalow had become the ideal suburban home and was being built by the thousands, giving rise to what has been called the "bungalow suburb." The typical bungalow was a one- or one-and-a-half-story house having a wide, shallow-pitched roof with broad overhanging eaves. The interior featured an open floor plan for family activities at the front of the house and private bedrooms at the back or upstairs. The wide open front porch, a distinctive feature of the ideal bungalow, provided a transition between interior and outdoors.(109)

The design of the bungalow was influenced by the Prairie School movement of the Midwest, the California Arts and Crafts movement, and a number of vernacular housing types. Part of the bungalow's appeal was its adaptation of these and other architectural influences in the form of a small comfortable house. The suburban bungalow-in styles ranging from English Cottage styles to the Mission Revival style of the Southwest-was popularized nationwide by periodicals such as Western Architect, Ladies' Home Journal, Craftsman, and Bungalow Magazine. Numerous catalogs and books appeared, many in multiple editions, including William A. Radford's Artistic Bungalows (1908), Henry L. Wilson's Bungalow Book (1910), Henry H. Saylor's Bungalow Book (1911), H. V. Von Holst's Modern American Homes (1913), Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Homes (1909) and More Craftsman Homes (1912), and Charles E. White's Bungalow Book (1923).

The American Foursquare

The American foursquare made its appearance in the 1890s, and by the 1930s, was a fixture of American neighborhoods. A typical foursquare was a two-and-one-half-story house having a raised basement, one-story porch across the front, and plan of four evenly sized rooms on each floor. Often crowned with a pyramidal roof and dormers, the foursquare appeared in a variety of architectural styles, the most popular being the Colonial Revival.(110)

Factory Cut, Mail Order Houses

The availability of complete, factory cut homes, which could be ordered by mail from illustrated catalogs, was largely responsible for the widespread popularity of the bungalow and four-square. The Hodgson Company of Dover, Massachusetts, was one of the first to market factory cut dwellings, sheds, and cottages. During the first decade of the twentieth century, several companies-Aladdin of Bay City, Michigan; Sears and Roebuck; and Montgomery Ward-began to market precut homes that could be shipped by railroad and assembled on site. This trend grew in popularity and at the height of its popularity in the 1920s the industry included a host of other companies, including the Gordon-Van Tine Company of Davenport, Iowa, and Pacific Ready-Cut of Los Angeles.

The success of mail order home building depended on inexpensive transportation, vast selection of housing types and prices, financial arrangements where home owners could pay in installments, and marketing programs whereby designs were constantly being revised and retired as new ones reflecting changing popular taste were introduced. Thousands of precut houses were sold and shipped annually. Sears alone offered approximately 450 ready-to-build designs ranging in style, type, and size from small bungalows to multiple family apartment houses. Sears's sales reached 30,000 by 1925 and nearly 50,000 by 1930.(111)

Introduction of the Garage

Shelter for the automobile became an increasingly important consideration after 1900. Driveways were readily accommodated in the progressive design of new neighborhoods having road improvements such as paved surfaces, gutters and curbs, and sidewalks. The earliest garages were placed behind the house at the end of a long driveway that often consisted of little more than a double tract of pavement. By the end of the 1920s, attached and underground garages began to appear in stock plans for small homes as well as factory-built houses. Among the earliest homes with built-in garages were the detached and semi-detached models designed by architect Frederick Ackerman in 1928-1929 for Radburn, New Jersey. The design of an expandable two-story house with a built-in garage and additional upper-story bedroom was introduced by the FHA in 1940. By the 1950s, garages or carports were integrated into the design of many homes.(112)

Keith's Magazine, Carpentry and Building, Building Age, and American Carpenter and Builder were among the first magazines to offer instructions for building garages. William A. Radford is credited with popularizing the term "garage" and introducing the first catalog devoted to the type in 1910. Manufacturers of pre-cut homes, such as Aladdin Homes, began to offer a variety of mail order garages, often matching the materials and styles of popular house types.(113)

Home Gardening and the Arts and Crafts Movement

The American Arts and Crafts movement spurred an avid interest among homeowners in gardening and a desire to integrate a home's interior space with its outdoor surroundings. To unify house and garden and integrate indoor and outdoor living, many bungalow designers used natural construction materials, incorporated porches and courtyards into their designs, and encouraged the arrangement of yards with simple terraces, rustic paths, and garden rooms. Periodicals such as The Craftsman featured articles for embellishing the grounds of bungalows with patios, gates, fountains, pools, arbors, pergolas, and rockery. Features such as hanging vines, water gardens, and creeping ground covers added to the variety and rich textures of the Arts and Crafts garden.

Books by landscape architects educated home owners about domestic yard design; these included Ruth B. Dean's The Liveable House, Its Garden (1917), Herbert J. Kellaway's How to Lay Out Suburban Home Grounds (1907 and 1915), Elsa Rehmann's The Small Place: Its Landscape Architecture (1918), and Grace Tabor's Gardening Book (1911), Making the Grounds Attractive with Shrubbery (1912), Suburban Gardens (1913), and Planting Around the Bungalow (1914). Plan books such as Eugene O. Murmann's California Gardening (1914) provided gardening advice, planting plans, and plant lists for home owners according to local climate and growing conditions.

Garden writing flourished in popular magazines, such as Ladies' Home Journal, House and Garden, Country Life in America, House Beautiful, Garden Magazine, and Woman's Home Companion. Garden columns-by Frances Duncan, Wilhelm T. Miller, and Grace Tabor-and articles by noted designers, nursery keepers, and amateur gardeners, showcased successful gardens, provided horticultural information, and offered gardening advice.(114)

Horticulturalist Liberty Hyde Bailey of Cornell University bridged the gap between science and practical landscape gardening. As editor of Country Life in America and author of Garden-Making: Suggestions for the Utilizing of Home Grounds (1898) and The Practical Garden Book (1904), he translated his extensive botanical knowledge into simple principles for suburban gardeners.(115)

With the publication of Helena Rutherford Ely's A Woman's Hardy Garden in 1903, Victorian practices of carpet bedding and lush displays of exotic plantings gave way to simpler gardens featuring harmonies of color, seasonal changes, and perennial displays. Numerous books by successful amateur gardeners followed including, Louise Shelton's The Seasons in a Flower Garden (1906), Louise Beebe Wilder's Colour in My Garden (1918), and Nellie Doubleday's American Flower Garden (1909) written under the pseudonym Neltje Blanchan.(116)

Better Homes and the Small House Movement, 1919 to 1945:

After World War I, improving the quality of American domestic life took on special importance. Alliances formed among architects, real estate developers, builders, social reformers, manufacturers, and public officials-at both national and local levels-to encourage home ownership, standardized home building practices, and neighborhood improvements.

The Better Homes Campaign

Better Homes in America, Inc., a private organization founded in 1922, spearheaded a national campaign for domestic reform focused on educating homeowners about quality design and construction. Promoted by The Delineator, a popular Butterick publication for women, the organization gained the support of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and formed a nationwide network of local committees that encouraged both the construction of new homes and home remodeling projects. A national demonstration home, "Home Sweet Home," a modernized version of songwriter John Howard Paynes's Long Island birthplace, was constructed on the National Mall in 1923, and "Better Homes Week" activities and competitions were held nationwide. Annual competitions recognized the work of architects, such as Royal Barry Wills of Boston and William W. Wurster of San Francisco, whose small house designs would influence popular taste nationwide for homes described as New England Colonial or Monterey Revival.(117)

Architect-Designed Small Houses

The Small House Architects' Service Bureau was established in Minneapolis in 1919 with the purpose of providing architect-designed plans and technical specifications to builders of small houses. A "small house" was defined as one having no more than six rooms. Sponsored by the AIA, the bureau was a nonprofit organization made up of architects from all parts of the country devoted to the problem of designing small homes in a variety of popular forms and styles. Home builders could order complete working drawings from The Small House, a periodical, or plan catalogs such as Small Homes of Architectural Distinction (1929). The bureau endeavored to raise the public's awareness of the value of professional design and encouraged homeowners and builders to secure a local architect to supervise construction.(118)

In New York, the Home Owners Service Institute, headed by architect Henry Atterbury Smith in the 1920s, ran the weekly "Small House Page" of the Sunday New York Tribune, sponsored local design competitions and model home demonstrations, and published The Books of A Thousand Homes (1923). The institute raised the variety and quality of American homes by disseminating a large number of working drawings and plans nationwide-all the work of professional architects such as Frederick L. Ackerman and Whitman S. Wick-and forming alliances with private trade groups and manufacturers, including the American Face Brick Association, Curtis Woodwork Company, and National Lumber Manufacturers Association.(119)

Popular magazines-including Better Homes and Gardens, American Home, House and Garden, Garden and Home Builder, McCall's, and Sunset-reflected the growing interest in home improvement and appealed increasingly to owners of small homes. They carried articles on new house designs, interior decoration, and gardening, as well as advertisements for the latest innovations in manufactured products. Trade pamphlets such as Richard Requa's Old World Inspiration for American Architecture by the Monolith Portland Cement Company of Los Angeles reflected emerging alliances between the building industry and designers interested in promoting regional trends.

The small house of the 1920s appeared in many forms and a variety of bungalow and period revival styles, the most popular being drawn from the English Tudor Revival and a host of American Colonial influences, including Dutch, English, French, and Spanish. The movement resulted in a great diversity of architectural styles and types nationwide as regional forms and the work of regional architects attracted the interest of an increasingly educated audience of prospective home owners.

Federal Home Building Service Plan

Although the demand for architect designed small houses was seriously curtailed during the Great Depression, AIA-sponsored service bureaus continued to operate in a number of major cities across the United States, including Boston, New York, Memphis, Houston, and Los Angeles, where they found support from local savings and loan associations interested in ensuring that the homes they mortgaged were a sound investment. In 1938, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Producers Council of the NAREB, and the AIA joined together to sponsor the Federal Home Building Service Plan, a program of certification which, during the next decade, helped make home financing available to home owners who used service bureau plans and retained the services of registered architects to supervise construction. Although regionally-inspired Colonial Revival designs dominated, new forms such as the California Ranch house, appeared in the portfolios of approved architect-designed plans.

Landscape Design for Small House Grounds

By the late 1920s, professional landscape architects, such as Stephen Child and Sidney and S. Herbert Hare, had well established reputations for subdivision design and small residential projects in upper-income planned suburbs, such as Tucson's Colonia Solana and Kansas City's Country Club District. In 1923, the Home Owners Service Institute drew attention to the value of using the services of a professional landscape architect to arrange dwellings on site, lay out home grounds, and develop planting schemes in neighborhoods of small suburban homes. Garden City planners Stein and Wright recognized the profession's role in creating moderate-income neighborhoods when they hired Marjorie Sewell Cautley to assist their work at Sunnyside and Radburn, and encouraged the Buhl Foundation in Pittsburgh to hire Ralph E. Griswold to assist with the layout and planting of Chatham Village.(120)

Mrs. Francis King (Louise Yeomans King), a leader in the garden club movement, introduced the "Little Garden Series" in 1921, marking an increasing interest in the design of the small suburban lot. The series, which included Fletcher Steele's Design in the Little Garden (1924), brought home owners practical and aesthetic advice from professional landscape architects and successful gardeners. Other books by landscape architects reflecting this trend included Myrl E. Bottomley's Design of Small Properties (1926), Cautley's Garden Design (1935), Frank A. Waugh's Everybody's Garden (1930). Helen Morgenthau Fox's Patio Gardens (1929) and Richard Requa's Architectural Details of Spain and the Mediterranean (1927), both featuring Spanish and Mediterranean influences, encouraged the development of regional gardening forms that corresponded to emerging trends in house design and were suited to the warmer climates of California and Florida.(121)

Public and Private Initiatives: The Efficient Low-Cost Home, 1931-1948:

As the Great Depression deepened, housing starts declined precipitously, coming almost to a standstill. Discussion of the ideal small house took on new urgency with the collapse of the home building industry and the rising rate of mortgage foreclosures. Findings of the 1931 President's Conference

With the recommendations of the Nation's leading experts, the 1931 conference endorsed the objective of reforming the Nation's system of home financing, improving the quality of housing for moderate and lower-income groups, and stimulating the building industry. For house design, these measures meant improving the design and efficiency of the American home while lowering its cost. Through a combination of private and public efforts, the design of efficient, low-cost housing-in the of form single, two-family, and multiple family dwellings-became a national priority, reflecting to a large extent the recommendations made by the conference committees.

The Committee on Design brought together experienced architects and developers who called for improvements in small house design such as building houses in well planned groups to avoid the monotony created by the repetition of uniform houses on narrow lots and siting houses to benefit from sunlight, air, and outdoor space. Representatives from trade organizations, building associations, and materials manufacturers formed the Committee on Construction, which upheld the need for labor and time conserving methods, standard building codes, improved standards of workmanship, education and research by trade associations, and economies of prefabrication. Another committee examined the affordability of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, and set basic requirements for plumbing and sanitation, electric wiring, and refrigeration.(122)

The Committee on Landscape Planning and Planting, which brought together landscape architects experienced in residential design and representatives of the organizations such as the Garden Club of America and National Council of State Garden Club Federations, upheld the importance of attractive yard design and landscape plantings to enhance a home owner's comfort and enjoyment as well as increase property values.(123)

FHA's Minimum House and Small House Program

Through its approval of properties for mortgage insurance and the publication of housing and subdivision standards, the FHA instituted a national program that would regulate home building practices for many decades. House designs, first published in FHA's Principles of Planning Small Houses (1936), were updated periodically. Circulars, such as Property Standards, Recent Developments in Building Construction, and Modern Housing, addressed issues of prefabrication methods and materials, housing standards, and principles of design.

The five FHA house types that appeared in Planning Small Houses in 1936 offered "a range in comfort of living," and in succession a "slightly increasing accommodation." Illustrated by floor plans and simple elevations, each type was void of nonessential spaces, picturesque features, and unnecessary items that would add to their cost, following FHA's principle for "providing a maximum accommodation within a minimum of means." Houses could be built in a variety of materials, including wood, brick, concrete block, shingles, stucco, or stone. To increase domestic efficiency, new labor saving technologies were introduced: kitchens were equipped with modern appliances, and the utility room's integrated mechanical system replaced the basement furnace of earlier homes.(124)

The simplest FHA design became known in the home building industry as the "FHA minimum house." Measuring 534 square feet and having no basement, House A was a one-story, two-bedroom house designed for a family of three adults or two adults and two children. A small kitchen and larger multipurpose living room extended across the front of the house, while two bedrooms and a bathroom were located off a small hallway at the back of the house. The slightly larger House B provided 624 square feet of living space and had more lasting appeal.(125)

Houses C and D were two-story homes, having two upstairs bedrooms, with the latter offering a simple attached garage. House E, a compact two-story, three-bedroom house, was the largest and most elaborate of FHA's early designs. Illustrated with a classically inspired doorway and semicircular light in the street-facing gable, it demonstrated that a house could be "attractively designed without excessive ornamentation."(126)

FHA's 1940 edition of Planning Small Homes introduced a dramatically different, flexible system of house design based on the principles of expandability, standardization, and variability. Praised for its livability, the simple one-story "minimum" house became the starting point from which many variations arose as rooms were added or extended to increase interior space, often forming an L-shaped plan. Exterior design resulted from the combination of features such as gables, porches, materials, windows, and roof types. Factors such as orientation to sunlight, prevailing winds, and view became as important as the efficient layout of interior space. Fireplaces and chimneys could be added, as well as basements. The revised edition also included designs for two-bedroom, two-story houses having central-hall and sidewall-stair plans, some offering built-in garages and additional bedrooms.(127)

The new FHA principles provided instructions for grouping similarly designed houses in cul-de-sacs and along streetscapes by varying the elements of exterior design in ways that avoided repetition and gave the neighborhood an interesting and pleasing character, for example, by varying the placement of each house on its lot and introducing a variety of wall materials and roof types. The principles were directed at operative builders who, taking advantage of the cost-reducing practices of standardization and more liberal financing terms, were becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of building homes on a large scale and, for the first time, were creating what has become known as "tract" housing.(128)

FHA's Rental Housing Program

FHA's Large-Scale Rental Housing Division worked closely with operative builders to design apartment villages that were efficient cost-wise, but also attractive and desirable places for moderate-income renters. Utilizing superblock planning and incorporating garden courts and common greens, they were strongly influenced by Stein and Wright's Garden City projects at Sunnyside Gardens, Radburn, and Chatham Village, as well as the highly recognized World War I defense housing communities of Seaside Village at Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Yorkship Village at Camden, New Jersey.

The overall aesthetic effect of garden apartment villages relied on the varied and irregular massing of units within a superblock, separation from automobile traffic, an interlocking arrangement of housing units to fit a site's topography which avoided the appearance of either rowhouses or large apartment blocks, and the provision of landscaped walkways, gardens, and recessed entry courts. Staggered roof lines and unifying cornices, fascia, and dentil friezes, and the repetition of modest and similar architectural embellishments-doorways, transoms, mouldings, window surrounds, roof designs-unified each complex's over-all design.

Economies of scale and the use of standardized building components dictated the design of communities such as Buckingham in Arlington, Virginia. Functional efficiency and cost reduction relied on the use of standardized components and appliances, the development of consolidated mechanical systems, and an efficient arrangement of rooms within each apartment, and of apartments within each dwelling unit. Influenced by Henry Wright, who had advised on the design of Buckingham and whose Rehousing Urban America was published in 1935, FHA architect Eugene H. Klaber developed a series of efficient "unit plans," which published in FHA's monthly Architectural Bulletin (1940), guided much market-rate rental housing construction through World War II.(129)

Prefabricated Houses

The 1930s became a decade of experimentation. A number of private organizations assumed the role of "scientific housers" with the purpose of creating a house that a majority of American wage earners could afford. Others explored the principles of mass production and prefabrication to reduce the cost of building materials and housing.(130)

Bemis Industries, Inc., under the direction of Albert Farwell Bemis, experimented with prefabricated modular systems using a variety of materials including steel, gypsum-based blocks and slabs, and composition board and steel panels to create a series of model homes; this work established the principles for Bemis's three-volume The Evolving House (1936), which became a standard reference work on prefabrication. Bemis pursued a three-fold strategy: first, simplify the house by eliminating seldomly used space; second, streamline the construction process by using time and labor-saving equipment, materials, and techniques; third, apply principles of modern industrial management for production based on economies of scale and the sequential production of components.(131)

The John B. Pierce Foundation of New York City examined the American home from the standpoint of efficiency. Through space-and-motion studies of family living habits, the foundation developed the prototype for a 24 by 28 foot house, having four rooms and a bath which became a community building standard. The foundation developed a number of models, including a demonstration village at its laboratory in Highbridge, New Jersey, and worked with manufacturers to develop small marketable dwellings using innovative materials and prefabricated components, which were manufactured on a large scale and purchased by the U.S. government during World War II.(132)

In 1935, the Forest Products Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a "stress-skin" plywood house, which spurred a series of efforts to develop insulated, prefabricated wood panels that could be manufactured on a large scale and shipped for easy assembly on site. Such prefabricated systems were adopted by a number of manufacturers, including the Celotex Company of Chicago and Homasote Company of Trenton, New Jersey, which would both become leading manufacturers of housing for defense workers during World War II.(133)

In its annual revision of Recent Developments in Building Construction, FHA reported on new developments and provided a list of the materials and methods approved by the U.S. Bureau of Standards. In 1940 the list included methods ranging from a system of steel panel construction manufactured by Steel Buildings, Inc., of Ohio to concrete construction methods promoted by the Portland Cement Association.(134)

Prefabricated methods took on increasing importance with the onset of World War II as the construction of both temporary and permanent housing in places determined critical for defense production became a national priority. The need to speed production and lower construction costs guided these efforts, many of which were funded under the Lanham Act and public housing programs. After the war, manufacturers continued to shape the suburban landscape based on principles of mass production and prefabrication. Federal loans for the construction of manufacturing plants through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation made it possible for manufacturers such as Carl Strandlund of Chicago and Harvey Kaiser in California to fund large-scale efforts to produce housing components that could be shipped and assembled on site to provide housing for the families of returning veterans.(135)

Many attempts to produce factory-made prefabricated dwellings experienced limited success and failed, including the demountable Acorn houses introduced in 1945 by Carl Koch and John Bemis of Massachusetts and the porcelain-enamel steel Lustron House, manufactured from 1947 to 1950, the invention of manufacturer Carl Strandlund and architect Morris Beckman.

To architects such as William Wurster and Walter Gropius, prefabrication promised a solution to housing America's lower-income families. During the 1940s, Gropius worked closely with Konrad Wachsmann and the General Panel Corporation to develop a system of prefabrication that would markedly reduce the cost of housing. Although the final model called "the Packaged House" was technically a success, the company's efforts to market the system and remain financially solvent failed.(136)

More successful were house manufacturers such as National Homes Corporation of Lafayette, Indiana, and Gunnison Homes of New Albany, Indiana, which readily adapted their factory operations to postwar conditions and offered a number of designs suited to the needs, incomes, and tastes of postwar middle-income home buyers. These companies engaged the services of well-known architects, including Royal Barry Wills and Charles M. Goodman, and offered expanding portfolios with the latest in interior and exterior features, such as heat-insulated windows and exposed redwood ceilings.(137)

Postwar Suburban House and Yard, 1945-1960:

By 1945, several factors-the lack of new housing, continued population growth, and six million returning veterans eager to start families-combined to produce the largest building boom in the Nation's history, almost all of it concentrated in the suburbs. From 1944 to 1946, single-family housing starts increased eight-fold from 114,000 to 937,000. Spurred by the builders' credits and liberalized terms for VA- and FHA-approved mortgages by the end of the 1940s, home building proceeded on an unprecedented scale reaching a record high in 1950 with the construction of 1,692,000 new single-family houses.(138)

The experience of World War II demonstrated the possibilities offered by large-scale production, prefabrication methods and materials, and streamlined assembly methods. In 1947 developer William Levitt began to apply these principles to home building in a dramatically new way, creating his first large-scale suburb, Levittown on Long Island, which would eventually accommodate 82,000 residents in more than 17,500 houses.(139)

Levitt's idea was to lower construction costs by simplifying the house, assembling many components off-site, and turning the construction site into a streamlined assembly line. The economy of using factory produced building components, such as precut wall panels and standardized mechanical systems, significantly lowered the cost of construction. By adapting assembly line methods for horizontal or serial production, Levitt and Sons was able to systematically and efficiently assemble the components on site. The construction process was divided into 27 steps, each performed in sequence by a specialized crew. The tasks, skills, and manpower to complete each step were precisely defined and each member was trained to perform a set of repetitive tasks, enabling work crews to move efficiently and quickly through each site, thus establishing the firm's reputation for completing a house every 15 minutes.(140)

The vast subdivisions of Cape Cods and later Ranch homes, mocked by critics as suburban wastelands, represent not only an unprecedented building boom, but the concerted and organized effort by many groups, including the Federal government, to create a single-family house that a majority of Americans could afford. Levitt actually perfected a construction process that had been in the making for more than two decades. Other developers did the same, including Harvey Kaiser at Panorama City, near Los Angeles, and Philip M. Klutznick of American Community Builders, Inc., at Park Forest, Illinois. The success of Levitt and others resulted in the emergence of large-scale developers, called "merchant builders," who would apply their successful formulas for building large communities in one location after another, often accommodating changing tastes, economics, and consumer demand in new and improved house designs.(141)

From the FHA Minimum House to the Cape Cod

The Cape Cod provided most of the low-cost suburban housing immediately following the war and was built in groups of varying sizes, sometimes numbering the hundreds. Often located on curvilinear streets and cul-de-sacs that reflected the FHA guidelines for neighborhood planning, Cape Cods appeared in a variety of materials, including sheets of insulated asbestos shingles available after the war in an increasing assortment of colors.

The Cape Cod that eager prospective renters lined up to inspect in the first Levittown in June 1947, was one-and-a-half stories and built on a concrete slab. Its 750 square feet of living space was divided into a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms, and a bath. Set on a lot of 6,000 square feet, the exterior of the house-with a steeply pitched gable roof pierced by two dormers above a clapboarded first story-was a variation on a Cape Cod cottage and was a somewhat larger version of the FHA minimum house, which had been improved and expanded in FHA's 1940 Principles for Planning Small Houses.(142)

Large-scale subdivisions not only took form on the periphery of the Nation's largest metropolitan areas, but also around many smaller cities. For middle- and upper-middle-income families, especially in the East, simplified versions of prewar "small house" designs such as brick or clapboarded Cape Cod and other Colonial Revival forms continued in popularity, in large part due to architect Royal Barry Wills, who published numerous plan books, including Houses for Good Living (1940), Better Homes for Budgeteers (1941), Houses for Homemakers (1945), and Living on the Level (1955).(143)

The Suburban Ranch House

The suburban Ranch house of the 1950s reflected modern consumer preferences and growing incomes. With its low, horizontal silhouette and rambling floor plan, the house type reflected the nation's growing fascination with the informal lifestyle of the West Coast and the changing functional needs of families.(144)
In the 1930s California architects Cliff May, H. Roy Kelley, William W. Wurster, and others adapted the traditional housing of Southwest ranches and haciendas and Spanish Colonial revival styles to a suburban house type suited for middle-income families. The house was typically built of natural materials such as adobe or redwood and was oriented to an outdoor patio and gardens that ensured privacy and intimacy with nature. Promoted by Sunset Magazine between 1946 and 1958 and featured in portfolios such as Western Ranch Houses (1946) and Western Ranch Houses by Cliff May (1958), May's work gained considerable attention in the Southwest and across the nation.(145)

In the late 1940s popular magazine surveys indicated the postwar family's preference for the informal Ranch house as well as a desire to have all their living space on one floor with a basement for laundry and other utilities and a multipurpose room for hobbies and recreation. Builders of middle and upper-income homes mimicked the architect-designed homes of the Southwest, offering innovations such as sliding glass doors, picture windows, carports, screens of decorative blocks, and exposed timbers and beams, which derived as much from modernistic influences as those of traditional Southwestern design.(146)

Builders of low-cost homes, however, sought ways to give the basic form of FHA-approved houses a Ranch-like appearance. By late 1949, Levitt & Sons had modified the Cape Cod into a Ranch-like house called "The Forty-Niner," by leaving the floor plan intact and giving the house an asymmetrical facade and horizontal emphasis by placing shingles on the lower half of the front elevation and fitting horizontal sliding windows just below the eaves. Picture windows, broad chimneys, horizontal bands of windows, basement recreational rooms, and exterior terraces or patios became distinguishing features of the forward-looking yet lower-cost suburban home.(147)

In the 1950s, as families grew larger and children became teenagers, households moved up to larger Ranch houses, offering more space and privacy. With the introduction of television and inexpensive, high-fidelity phonographs, increasing noise levels created a demand for greater separation of activities and soundproof zones. The split-level house provided increased privacy through the location of bedrooms on an upper level a half-story above the main living area and an all-purpose, recreation room on a lower level. The Ranch house in various configurations, including the split level, continued as the dominant suburban house well into the 1960s.

The Contemporary House

The influence of Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Richard J. Neutra, Mies van der Rohe, and other modernists inspired many architects to look to new solutions for livable homes using modern materials of glass, steel, and concrete, and principles of organic design that utilized cantilevered forms, glass curtain walls, and post-and-beam construction. The contemporary home featured the integration of indoor and outdoor living area and open floor plans, which allowed a sense of flowing space. Characteristics such as masonry hearth walls, patios and terraces, carports, and transparent walls in the form of sliding glass doors and floor-to-ceiling windows became hallmarks of the contemporary residential design.(148)

The principles of European modernism expressed in the International Style had been introduced to the American public in the 1932 Museum of Modern Art exhibition. The Century of Progress World's Fair at Chicago in 1933 introduced Americans to a number of modern houses, including the House of Tomorrow by George Fred Keck, noted for its polygonal form, innovative use of glass, and showcase of modern building materials.(149)

James and Katherine Ford's Modern House in America (1940) and professional magazines, such as the Architectural Record, Progressive Architecture, and Architectural Forum, promoted modernistic architect-built homes and featured the work of a rising generation of modernists including Edward D. Stone, Paul Thiry, William Lescaze, George Howe, Alden B. Dow, Pietro Belluschi, and Gregory Ain. Under the editorship of John Entenza, the Case Study Series in Arts and Architecture from 1945 and 1966 included designs for 36 houses that reflected new approaches to domestic design and featured mass production techniques, innovative planning, and new materials. The series not only featured outstanding examples of upper-income homes in California by noted designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Raphael Soriano, and Ralph Rapson, but also a proposed but never-executed 260-home subdivision in San Fernando Valley, designed by A. Quincy Jones, Jr., and Frederick E. Emmons and co-sponsored by merchant builder Joseph Eichler and the Producers' Council.(150)

Architects and others promoted the development of small houses reflecting modernistic design principles to meet the postwar housing shortage through plan books and detailed instructions that pointed out the construction and space efficiencies offered by modern design. Such books included The Small House of Tomorrow (1945) by Los Angeles architect Paul R. Williams; Tomorrow's House: How to Plan Your Post-War Home Now (1945) by designers George Nelson and Henry N. Wright; and the Museum of Modern Art's If You Want to Build a House (1946) by Elizabeth B. Mock.(151)

Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian houses of the 1930s were forward looking with their horizontal emphasis, flat and sloping roofs, large windows, corner windows, and combination of natural wood and masonry materials. Wright continued to explore the problem of the small home, designing in 1938 an interesting group of quadraplexes, the Suntop Houses, at Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He gave new form to the Usonian house in the 1950s, and published The Natural House (1954), where he elaborated on his principles of organic design to create livable dwellings that integrated home and site.

Private organizations, such as the Revere Quality House Institute, Southwest Research Institute, and John D. Pierce Foundation, promoted the use of modern principles of design by sponsoring award programs and offering seals of approval for successful innovative designs. These programs encouraged the collaboration of developers and modernist architects and recognized the broadening array of new and innovative home building materials and prefabricated methods of construction.(152)

John Hancock Callender's Before You Buy a House (1953), a joint publication of the Southwest Research Institute and the Architectural League of New York, was designed to educate prospective home buyers about the efficiency, livability, and low-cost afforded by the "contemporary residential style." The book showcased dozens of communities of small homes from all parts of the country, including Arapahoe Acres in Englewood, Colorado; and many of merchant builder Joseph Eichler's subdivisions in California.(153)

In the 1950s AIA sponsored a Homes for Better Living award program in conjunction with House and Home, Better Homes and Gardens, and the National Broadcasting Corporation. This program recognized successful merchant-built communities such as Hollin Hills in Alexandria, Virginia, which featured the innovative domestic architecture of Charles M. Goodman.(154)

Appealing to an increasingly well-educated and prosperous audience, popular magazines heralded innovations in contemporary house design. The distinction between the Ranch and contemporary house became blurred as each type made use of transparent walls, privacy screens of design concrete blocks, innovations in open space planning, and the interplay of interior and exterior space. House Beautiful promoted Wright's designs as well as other upper-income homes in the modernistic styles. Better Homes promoted designs to meet the incomes of a wider range of families and showcased successful owner-built designs alongside those of established architects, such as architect Chester Nagel's home in Lexington, Massachusetts. In the late 1940s Better Homes began to recognize outstanding examples, which were showcased as "Five Star Homes." Other magazines offered similar awards, including Parents' Magazine, which sponsored the "Best Home for Family Living" competition.(155)

Exploring the possibilities inherent in combining modern design and prefabrication methods, architect Carl Koch and John Bemis introduced the popular, mass-produced Tech-built house in the early 1950s. From 1952 to 1956, the U.S. Gypsum Corporation sponsored a well-publicized demonstration project at Barrington Woods, Illinois, which featured model homes by a number of leading designers. In addition, sources such as Koch's At Home with Tomorrow (1958) and Jones and Emmons's Builder's Homes for Better Living (1957) spurred a whole series of contemporary homes, whose facades by the end of the 1950s were dominated by overhanging eaves, broad gables, transparent walls, and aboveground balconies.

Postwar Suburban Apartment Houses

Modernism was embraced as the rental housing market expanded in the suburbs of large cities. Title 608 of the National Housing Act, which guaranteed builders 90 percent-mortgages on multiple family projects conforming to FHA standards, continued until the mid-1950s. Publication of Clarence Stein's Toward New Towns (1951) revived models for low- and mid-rise apartment villages, such as the Phipps Apartments at Sunnyside Gardens and the modernistic Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles. Housing Design (1954) by Columbia University professor Eugene Klaber set forth principles of unit-planning similar to those Klaber had developed for the FHA two decades earlier. FHA began to provide mortgage insurance for apartment buildings having elevators in the late 1940s. By the 1950s apartment buildings were equipped with improved mechanical systems, elevators, up-to-date appliances, central air conditioning, outdoor balconies, and newly available prefabricated components such as steel-framed windows and sliding glass doors.(156)

Unlike their urban counterparts built on the site of cleared slums, high-rise suburban developments, which became increasingly popular in the late 1950s, were modeled after Le Corbusier's vision for the "radiant city" and luxury high-rise apartment houses in American cities, including Mies van der Rohe's Promontory Apartments (1949) and Lake Shore Drive Apartments (1951) in Chicago; Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Company Tower (1952) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; and 100 Memorial Drive (1950) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by the firm of Kennedy, Koch, DeMars, Rapson, and Brown. Their location along major expressways leading from the center city was motivated by convenience of location as well as advances in air conditioning, elevator design, mechanical systems, and structural design.(157)

Contemporary Landscape Design

New directions in landscape design accompanied the development of the Ranch house and contemporary residence in California. Emphasis on the integration of indoor and outdoor living encouraged the arrangement of features such as the patios and terraces, sunshades and trellises, swimming pools, and privacy screens. Several of the Case Study houses in Arts and Architecture featured the landscape work of Garrett Eckbo. Architects such as Paul Williams designed houses "with the living side facing a private garden." Sunset magazine publicized western gardens by Doug Baylis, Thomas Church, and Eckbo, a number of which formed the grounds of Ranch houses designed by Cliff May, and published Landscape for Western Living (1956). In addition, Thomas Church's Gardens Are for People: How to Plan for Outdoor Living (1955), and Garrett Eckbo's Landscape for Living (1950) and Art of Home Landscaping (1956) brought to a national audience simple principles for organizing the domestic yard into dignified lawns, private patios, informal garden rooms, and activity areas with simple, easy-to-maintain plants and shrubbery.(158)

The modern style sought to achieve an integration of interior and exterior space by creating lines of vision through transparent windows and doors to patios, intimate garden spaces, zones designed for special uses, and distant vistas. Hedges, freestanding shrubbery, and beds of low growing plants, arranged to form abstract geometrical patterns, reinforced the horizontal and vertical planes of the modern suburban house.(159)

Developers of contemporary subdivisions often secured the services of landscape architects as site planners to lay out their subdivisions and advise on the layout and planting of common areas, street corners, streets, and sidewalks. Others urged home owners to consult with landscape architects on the design of their suburban yards. The Southwest Research Institute encouraged such collaboration and recognized its achievement in suburban neighborhoods of contemporary homes, such as Hollin Hills in Alexandria, Virginia, where several landscape architects, including Dan Kiley, drew up planting plans for home owners and advised the developer on the planting of common areas.(160)

Figure 4. Suburban Architecture and Landscape Gardening, 1832 to 1960
1832 Balloon frame construction invented in Chicago.
1838 Rural Residences by Alexander Jackson Davis published.
1841 Publication of Treatise on Domestic Economy, by Catharine E. Beecher and Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening by Andrew Jackson Downing.
1842-1850 Cottage Residences and Architecture of Country Houses by Downing published.
1869 The American Woman's Home by Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe published.
1870 Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds by Frank J. Scott published.
1876 Model Homes for the People: A Complete Guide to the Proper and Economical Erection of Buildings, the first of a series of mail order plan catalogs by George and Charles Palliser, published.
1878 Modern Dwellings in Town and Country Adapted to American Wants and Climate by Henry Hudson Holly published.



Figure 4. Continued Suburban Architecture and Landscape Gardening,
1832 to 1960

1907-1908 How to Lay Out Suburban Home Grounds by Herbert J. Kellaway and Artistic Bungalows by William Radford published.

Sears and Roebuck begins pre-cut, mail order house catalog sales.

1913-14 Suburban Gardens and Planting Around the Bungalow by Grace Tabor published.
1916 Frank Lloyd Wright's American System Ready-Cut method of prefabrication used in the Richard's Small House and Duplexes, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1918 The Small Place: Its Landscape Architecture by Elsa Rehmann published.
1919 Architects' Small House Service Bureau founded in Minneapolis.
1921 The Little Garden published, introducing "The Little Garden Series," edited by Mrs. Francis King (Louise Yeomans King).
1922 Better Homes movement founded by the Butterick Company and endorsed by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover.
1922-23 Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri, first automobile-oriented regional shopping center, developed by J. C. Nichols.
1923 Home Owners Service Institute sponsors "Home Sweet Home," the official demonstration house for the Better Homes in America movement and publishes Books of A Thousand Homes, edited by Henry Atterbury Smith.
1926 Publication of Myrl E. Bottomley's The Design of Small Properties.
1928-1932 Variety of moderately priced small houses built at Radburn; grounds and plantings by Marjorie Sewell Cautley
1929 Architects' Small House Service Bureau, Inc., publishes Small Homes of Architectural Distinction, edited by Robert T. Jones.


Figure 4. Continued Suburban Architecture and Landscape Gardening,
1832 to 1960
1930 Park-and-Shop, Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C., designed by Arthur Heaton for Shannon and Luchs Real Estate.
1931 President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership.
1932 Museum of Modern Art, New York, mounts exhibition entitled, "The International Style: Architecture Since 1922."
1932-36 Chatham Village, at Pittsburgh, developed by the Buhl Foundation and designed by architects Ingham and Boyd and landscape architect Ralph E. Griswold.
1933-34 Century of Progress International Exhibition, Chicago, features "House of Tomorrow."
1934 Federal Housing Administration establishes programs for insuring mortgages on small homes and large-scale rental housing.

1935 Rehousing Urban America by Henry Wright and Garden Design by Marjorie Sewell Cautley published.

Demonstration of prefabrication at Purdue Research Village, Lafayette, Indiana.

Forest Products Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture introduces house made of "stress-skin" plywood panels.

1936 Bemis Industries publishes three-volume The Evolving House, which outlines principles of prefabrication.

Federal Housing Administration publishes first standards for insurable neighborhoods and introduces the FHA minimum house.

1936-39 Buckingham Community, Arlington, Virginia, developed by Paramount Motors Company using the principles of economies of large-scale construction and standardization of building components.


Figure 4. Continued Suburban Architecture and Landscape Gardening,
1832 to 1960
1938 Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Producers Council, and AIA jointly introduce Federal Home Building Service Plan, encouraging home builders to use the services of registered architects to carry out construction according to architect-designed small house plans.

1940 Construction of Crow Island School, Winnetka, Illinois, by architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Perkins, Wheeler, and Will.

Publication of Modern House in America by James Ford and Katherine Morrow Ford.

FHA introduces new standards and an efficient, flexible system of house design and construction; issues "Architectural Bulletins" with unit plans for large-scale housing.

John Pierce Foundation with the Celotex Company of Chicago, Illinois, introduces cemesto boards in the construction of prefabricated houses for Glenn Martin Aircraft near Baltimore, Maryland.

1940-41 Royal Barry Wills publishes Houses for Good Living and Better Houses for Budgeteers.
1942 Skidmore, Owings and Merrill plans defense-worker community at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
1945-46 Publication of Tomorrow's House: How to Build Your Post-War Home Now, by George Nelson and Henry Wright; The Small House of Tomorrow by Paul R. Williams; If You Want to Build a House by Elizabeth B. Mock.
1945-66 Arts & Architecture publishes Case Study House series.
1946 Sunset Magazine publishes Western Ranch Houses featuring work of Cliff May, Doug Baylis and others.


Figure 4. Continued Suburban Architecture and Landscape Gardening,
1832 to 1960
1946 Movement to provide veterans' housing gains momentum especially in rental housing; Veterans' Emergency Housing Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 215) extends FHA authority to insure mortgages under Title VI. Elevator structures determined acceptable for FHA rental housing.

1947 Legislation to encourage private development of housing for veterans based on prefabrication methods in the form of short-term loans to housing manufacturers.

Levitt and Sons builds first houses at Hempstead on Long Island, New York; Philip Klutznick forms American Community Builders to develop Park Forest, Illinois (planner Elbert Peets).

1947-50 Prefabricated homes made of porcelain-enameled steel panels manufactured by the Lustron Corporation (Carl Strandlund, manufacturer).
1948 Cameron Village Shopping Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, first large retail shopping center, planned by developer Wilke York, and site planner, Seward H. Mott.
1950 Landscape for Living by landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, published by Architectural Record.
1952-54 Northland Shopping Center, Detroit, Michigan, planned by Victor Gruen and Associates.
1953 Southdale Shopping Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, first enclosed, climate-controlled mall designed by Victor Gruen.
1952-56 U.S. Gypsum Research Village in Barrington Woods, Illinois, showcases contemporary house designs.
1953 Before You Buy A House published by New York Architectural League and Southwest Research Institute, promoting modern principles of house design and the collaboration of architects and developers.


Figure 4. Continued Suburban Architecture and Landscape Gardening,
1832 to 1960
1955-56 Publication of Thomas Church's Gardens Are for People: How to Plan for Outdoor Living; Garrett Eckbo's Art of Home Landscaping; and Sunset Magazine's Landscape for Western Living.
1957 Hollin Hills, Alexandria, Virginia, selected as one of the "Ten Buildings in America's Future" in AIA Centennial Exhibition.
1957-58 Publication of A. Quincy Jones Jr., and Frederick E. Emmons's Builders' Homes for Better Living and Carl Koch's At Home with Tomorrow.




Identification activities are designed to recognize properties associated with historic patterns of suburbanization and to gather information to determine the National Register eligibility of historic subdivisions and neighborhoods. The identification process calls for the development of a historic context at the local or metropolitan level and the documentation of associated properties using historical research methods and field survey techniques.

Contextual information on local patterns of suburbanization can guide survey work by providing a link between historic events and the physical evolution of communities. In turn, survey information expands the understanding of local patterns, adding to the local context information about the location, character, and condition of representative subdivisions and neighborhoods.

Information previously gathered through the statewide comprehensive survey and other historic contexts (local or state) should be supplemented by new research and field surveys that extend not only the geographical area covered by earlier surveys but also the chronological period considered historic. Keep in mind that the findings of earlier surveys and context statements may need to be reevaluated and updated according to new contextual information about historic patterns of suburbanization.


Figure 5. Process for Identification, Evaluation, and Documentation
Step One: Develop local or metropolitan context on suburbanization
1. Conduct historical research.
2. Determine geographical scale and chronological periods.
3. Compile data from historic maps, plats, and other sources.
4. Prepare a written statement of context.
Step Two: Conduct field surveys of historic residential suburbs
1. Select appropriate survey forms.
2. Gather materials for field reference.
3. Conduct a reconnaissance or preliminary survey.
4. Analyze survey results and identify potentially eligible districts and properties.
5. Conduct an intensive-level survey of selected properties.
Step One: Define significance
1. Apply the National Register criteria.
2. Select areas of significance.
3. Define period of significance.
Step Two: Assess historic integrity
1. Apply seven qualities of integrity.
2. Identify changes and threat to integrity.
3. Classify contributing and noncontributing resources.
4. Weigh overall integrity.
Step Three: Select boundaries
1. Define the historic boundaries.
2. Decide what to include.
3. Select appropriate edges.
Steps for Completing the National Register Multiple Property Form (NPS-10-900b)
1. Provide a statement of context.
2. Provide an analysis of property types.
3. Define registration requirements.
4. Explain methodology.
5. Provide bibliographical references.
6. Acquire official certification.
Steps for Completing the National Register Registration Form (NPS-10-900)
1. Describe historic district.
2. Provide a list of contributing resources.
3. Provide a statement explaining the local context.
4. Document the history of the district.
5. Explain how district meets National Register criteria and criteria considerations.
6. Provide bibliographical references.
7. Define and justify district boundaries.
8. Provide photographs and maps.
9. Acquire official certification.
Step Three: Follow registration procedures
1. Consult Federal regulations (36 CFR Part 60) for nominations.
2. Consult Federal regulations (36 CFR Part 63) for determinations of eligibility.



The nationwide context, "The Suburbanization of Metropolitan Areas of the United States, 1830 to 1960," can be applied to the study of suburbanization on a local or metropolitan scale. In addition, a number of states have developed historic contexts and multiple property submissions that address various aspects of suburbanization (See Recommended Reading for a list of associated multiple property listings). Through historical research and field surveys, documentation is gathered to form a written statement of historic context, a master list of residential subdivisions, and one or a series of maps charting suburban growth of an entire metropolitan area or a single or small group of local communities within it.

Conducting Historical Research:

Initially historical research is directed at gathering general information about metropolitan or local patterns of development, most importantly 1) demographic trends, 2) transportation systems and routes, 3) patterns of land development and subdivision design, and 4) trends in suburban housing and landscape design. Later, additional research in conjunction with field surveys may examine the history of specific neighborhoods.

Primary and secondary source materials-often available in local libraries, historical collections, and government offices-yield a wealth of information about local patterns of suburbanization as well as the history and development of local neighborhoods. Historic maps and subdivision plats should be identified early in the study. For a summary of source materials useful for developing contexts on suburbanization and documenting suburban neighborhoods, see Historical Sources for Researching Local Patterns of Suburbanization on pages. (Figure 5)

Determining Geographical Scale and Chronological Periods:

Demographic trends can help document the approximate growth and extent of local suburbanization and establish the periods of development associated with particular methods of transportation. From this data, predictions can be made about the types of suburbs likely to exist. For example, metropolitan areas in the eastern United States, which experienced rapid growth due to industrialization during the nineteenth century, likely contain the full spectrum of suburban properties. Those in the Midwest, which began to experience significant growth in the 1880s, would probably include streetcar, early automobile, and freeway suburbs; and western cities, which didn't expand until the twentieth century, can be expected to contain early automobile and postwar or freeway suburbs.

Using the date of legal incorporation for the central city as a starting point, researchers can make an initial estimate of the period of historic suburbanization by plotting a graph that compares the population growth of the central city to that of adjacent counties (or smaller jurisdictions if the data is available for them) in ten-year intervals through 1960, using data from the U.S. Census. Such a graph will indicate not only when and where suburbanization likely occurred but also the extent to which local patterns correspond to the broad chronological periods identified in the national context.

The metropolitan area is the most appropriate scale for studying patterns of suburbanization and establishing a local historic context. However, limitations of time and funding, as well as the difficulty of coordinating efforts among multiple governing jurisdictions (sometimes located in several states), may make this approach impractical and make it necessary to establish a context for a single or small group of localities within the larger metropolitan area. In such cases, sufficient information should be gathered about metropolitan trends to explain how the history and development of the local community reflected patterns of suburbanization that shaped the metropolitan area as a whole.

For research and survey purposes, a set of historic chronological periods should be defined that correspond to local events and stages of suburbanization. This can be done by dividing the history of local historic development into chronological periods that generally correspond to those outlined in the transportation section of this bulletin, and assigning each period a set of dates based on local events, such as the introduction of the streetcar or the subdivision of the first automobile suburb. By comparing local trends in transportation, subdivision design, and housing design and construction to general national trends, researchers can make predictions about the types of subdivisions and suburban housing likely to be present in the local study area, as well as identify distinctive regional patterns.

Suburbanization has been an ongoing and continuous process in many communities. For this reason, it is important to use specific events and patterns in local history to define the beginning and closing dates for the overall "historic" period, as well as dates for chronologically-based property types. Approximate dates set at the beginning of the study can be revised later after research and field surveys have been completed to ensure accuracy. Actual events rather than an arbitrary 40- or 50-year cutoff should be used when examining patterns of suburbanization after World War II.

Compiling Data from Historic Maps and Plats:

Historic maps are particularly useful for studying patterns of suburbanization because they graphically depict the relationship between transportation corridors and residential development. Those from the mid-1880s are particularly helpful in locating railroad suburbs, whereas maps dating from 1900 to 1920 are good indicators of the expansion of streetcar suburbs. Maps from the late 1930s to mid-1940s help trace the development associated with the early automobile period, and those from the late 1950s will help trace the massive suburbanization spurred by the expansion of arterial roads and freeways in the postwar period.

Because transportation methods and routes have historically defined the limits of suburbanization, a sequence of historic maps indicating transportation routes should be assembled. The maps should represent dates far enough apart that they capture significant changes in the overall landscape. These maps can be compared to trace the relationship between transportation and subdivision development and determine the dates when major episodes of suburbanization occurred locally. Because little physical evidence of streetcar routes remains today, maps showing these routes are a key resource for identifying and verifying the presence of streetcar suburbs.

Historic plats provide an abundance of information about local real estate practices and patterns of subdivision design. They are also an invaluable tool in surveying historic neighborhoods and in evaluating significance and integrity. Plats typically indicate:

1) the date when a subdivision was platted;
2) original legal jurisdiction and boundaries of the subdivision;
3) name of the land development company or real estate developer responsible for subdividing the land;
4) original layout of the streets, utilities, and house lots; and
5) adjoining streets and arterials.

The requirements for recording plats vary from locality to locality. Researchers should make inquiries about local practices for both recording subdivision plats and for maintaining them as archival records. Plat books may be on file at the local courthouse or planning office. The search for historic plats may also involve contacting distant repositories, such as State historical societies or specialized archives housing the records of developers, site planners, or landscape architects. Research of fire insurance maps, recorded deeds, and written notices by land development companies may provide similar and additional information about community planning.

Mapping the Study Area

Information from the historic maps, plats, and other records can be used to prepare a map or series of maps charting the outward expansion of suburban development. Maps should indicate the name, date and location of railroad stations, streetcar routes, major arterial streets, parkways and boulevards, and highways, as well as principal land subdivisions. Reference copies should be prepared for field surveys so that the presence of resources can be verified and observations recorded about condition, boundaries, and potential eligible resources.

The best approach for graphically depicting the relationship between transportation and suburbanization is to begin with a current geographical map of the study area as a base map and create a series of overlays or period maps, each representing an important chronological period and showing the relationship of transportation facilities and subdivision development during that period. Such maps not only illustrate important aspects of the historic context, they also can be used to document multiple property listings, survey findings, and the evolution of large residential districts. Geographical Information Systems (GIs), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and a number of softwares for mapping now make it possible to efficiently organize digitized information about residential development in the form of maps and comparative graphs.

Preparing a Master List of Residential Subdivisions

General street maps, local plats and planning documents, fire insurance maps, and transportation maps usually provide sufficient information to compile a master list of subdivisions for each chronological period. For survey purposes, the list should be cross-referenced to the field map and should provide the historic name, current name, dates of platting, as well as the names of real estate developers and designers, if known. Based on survey findings and additional research, the list can be further annotated to describe key characteristics such as size, street design, block size, number of lots, types of original improvements, periods of construction, house types, and condition. Many communities are now making tax assessment and planning information available online or on CD-ROM; such a readily available source of digitized data not only provides a wealth of information about residential subdivisions and local housing types, but can be used in a variety of ways, including maps and comparative graphs.

  Developing a Statement of Context:
The development of a local historic context requires information gathered through both historical research and field surveys. For this reason, the written statement should be developed in several stages. An initial statement based on research findings and previous surveys should be prepared before the reconnaissance survey begins. The findings of subsequent research and both reconnaissance and intensive-level surveys should be added at later stages. The final statement of context can be used in National Register nominations and multiple property listings, as well as State or locally published contexts and survey documents.

 The statement should include a brief summary of the history of the metropolitan region and local community being studied and an explanation of the factors-geographical, legislative, and economic-that have influenced the growth and suburbanization of the region. In addition, the statement should explain the jurisdictional boundaries within the metropolitan region and identify the governing bodies historically responsible for local planning and development in the area being studied. It should contain dates, the proper names of influential individuals and organizations, and references to representative historic subdivisions and neighborhoods associated with the context.

Local contexts on suburbanization typically include information about the following:

•Transportation trends, including the location of railroad stations, streetcar routes, major arterial streets, parkways and boulevards, and express highways (freeways).
• Local events that reflect national trends in transportation, industry, commerce, and government.
• Local economic, demographic, and other factors that historically influenced the location and expansion of residential suburbs (e.g. rise of aerospace industry).
• Representative types of residential subdivisions and neighborhoods believed or known to exist in the study area, including the name, dates, and general characteristics of important examples.
• General types of single and multiple family housing that characterize the area's residential development, including their association with particular income levels, socioeconomic groups, industries, or local events.
• History of local or regional planning efforts, including the introduction of zoning ordinances, comprehensive planning, and subdivision regulations, which historically influenced patterns of suburbanization.
• Local practices concerning mapping, recording of subdivision plats, aerial surveys, and issuance of building permits, noting any particular records that are strong indicators of suburban growth and development.
• The ways that local patterns of suburbanization reflected changing views and attitudes about family, home, and the social roles of men and women.
• The ways local patterns of housing and subdivision design reflected national trends in architecture, landscape architecture, and community planning.  

•Establishment and activities of local chapters of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, National Association of Home Builders, American Institute of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Civic Association, American Institute of City Planners, Better Homes of America, Inc., and Small House Architect's Service Bureau, including the names of members who were influential in shaping local patterns of suburbanization.
• Principal subdividers, home builders, real estate developers, and lending institutions, including a description of the types of residential and other development with which they were associated, and any distinctive local practices, such as the use of deed restrictions or development of neighborhood shopping centers.
• Principal site planners, architects, and landscape architects known for residential design in the local community or metropolitan area, including examples of their work, the housing types or characteristics of design for which they were known, and the identity of subdividers and builders with whom they routinely worked.
• Biographical sketches of 1) real estate developers known to have had substantial impact on local patterns of suburbanization, and 2) architects, landscape architects, and engineers who influenced the design and character of residential suburbs in the metropolitan area or local community, by introducing innovations in design, achieving work of high artistic quality, or establishing local traditions of design and construction.

Figure 6. Historical Sources for Researching Local Patterns of Suburbanization
The following historical sources are especially valuable in researching local patterns of suburbanization and the history of residential subdivisions. While many can be found in the collections of local or regional libraries, archives, and historical societies, others may be found among the public records of municipal and county governments. Some source materials are available on microfilm or CD-ROM and may be found in many research libraries.
Historic Maps and Atlases: Historic maps indicating the growth and development of a metropolitan area at various intervals of time are especially valuable to chart the outward migration of residential subdivisions in relationship to advances in transportation technology and expansion of transportation routes. Maps were commonly published by streetcar and transit companies, oil companies, local chambers of commerce, highway departments, as well as local governments for tax and planning purposes.
Aerial Photographs: After World War II, many local governments began making aerial surveys of their rapidly changing landscape; many of these remain among local government records. Beginning in the 1930s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began making aerial surveys of rural areas of the United States for soil conservation purposes; these provide good coverage of the outlying areas of metropolitan cities that were later subject to residential development and are available on microfilm from the Cartographic Division of the National Archives. As part of the Global Land Information System (G.L.I.S.), the U.S.G.S. now makes available electronically the aerial photographs (called "digital orthophoto quadrangles," or "DOQs") taken to update digital line graphs and topographic maps.
Fire Insurance Maps: Insurance maps, such as those compiled by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company, are available in many local libraries and at the Library of Congress. Due to a major recording effort now underway, many Sanborn maps will soon be available on CD-ROM at major research libraries.
Local or County Ordinances: These indicate the dates and provisions for local planning controls, such as zoning, subdivision regulations, comprehensive planning processes, local design review, and citizens' associations.
City, County and Regional Plans: On file with local planning offices and available in local libraries and archives, these plans provide information about transportation routes, publicly funded improvements (e.g. utilities, water, sewer, mass transit), and overall plan of development that include distribution and density of land use activities, including residential development.


continued: Figure 6. Historical Sources for Researching Local Patterns of Suburbanization
Subdivision Plats: Local land records for a county, city or town, often organized chronologically in plat-books. While some older records of this type may be found in public libraries or historical collections, many remain among the public records of local courthouse or local planning offices. Also, copies may be found among the records of the architectural, planning, or development firms responsible for the design.
Building Permits/Tax Records: These records frequently provide the names of site planners, architects, and developers and often indicate the dates and cost of original construction and additions. In many communities, tax assessment information is contained in a computerized database and is available on CD-ROM.
Deeds of Title, Mechanic Liens, and Real Estate Records: Public court records indicate a property's chain of ownership and the terms of any deed restrictions. These are generally organized by date of recording and indexed by the names of sellers and purchasers. They may also indicate dates of construction and additions, original cost, source of mortgage, and identity of the subdivider or developer. Mechanics liens-temporary encumbrances on the title of property to ensure payment to the building contractor-may also identify the building contractors and indicate the cost of construction.
Building Contracts: Found in private and public historical collections, the records of architectural firms, and, when a legal dispute arises, in court records. In States where the public recording of building contracts was required by statute, they may be found in courthouse records. In the form of a legal agreement between owner and contractor, they describe the property to be constructed, often specifying materials, workmanship, design, and other specifications. Purchase orders and bills of lading for building materials may also be found with these records.
Historic Photographs: Photographs documenting the design, construction and daily life of residential suburbs exist in many local historic collections. These include family or community records; promotional or documentary materials used by realtors, developers and designers; and illustrations in historic newspapers, journals, magazines, and published portfolios. Although local historical collections may be the best place to locate historic photographs, specialized repositories may contain the work of local or regional architects, landscape architects, and photographic studios.
Site Plans, Architectural Drawings, Construction Plans, and Planting Plans: Available from the office of developer or architect, the archival repository for records of the architect, builder, or developer. Clearinghouse services, such as the Cooperative Preservation of Architectural Records (COPAR) and the Catalog of Landscape Records in the United States, provide researchers assistance in identifying repositories for the records of architectural firms and landscape designers. In addition, home owners may be in possession of promotional brochures, floor-plans, and landscape plans for their yards. Promotional brochures and advertisements may also be found in community archives and local historical societies.



continued: Figure 6. Historical Sources for Researching Local Patterns of Suburbanization
Historic Newspapers: Advertisements in the real estate sections of local newspapers provide information about housing design, subdivisions, housing costs, prospective home owners, and availability of house financing. They are also a source of information about local events affecting suburbanization, such as industrial development, demographic trends, and expansion of transportation routes. Advertisements for merchants, suppliers, and contractors provide information about building materials and practices. Obituaries provide biographical information about architects, landscape architects, and real estate developers. Many local libraries maintain copies of local newspapers on microfilm. Many news publishers now offer archival indexing and assistance through the Internet; while these services are useful for locating recent obituaries or retrospective articles, few extend back far enough to locate original advertisements or features.
U.S. Census Records: Census records provide demographic information about a subdivision or neighborhood, including the size of families, whether they own or rent their house, and the country of origin, education, occupation, and age of family members. The Census Bureau also gathers statistics on economics, housing, and population growth. Many census records are indexed and are available on microfilm from the National Archives (Record Group 29). Enumerative maps used by census takers are among the records of the Cartographic Division of the National Archives.
Oral History: Interviews with original and early homeowners are a valuable source of oral history and may be recorded in audio-tape, videotape, or written transcripts. Such individuals may also own historic materials, such as promotional brochures, architectural drawings, landscape plans, nursery receipts, photographs, diaries and personal memoirs. Interviews with builders, contractors, developers, architects, landscape architects, planners, and former public officials may provide interesting insights into historic patterns of suburbanization.
Records of Neighborhood Associations: Community newsletters, organizational minutes, correspondence, promotional brochures, anniversary publications, news clippings, early advertisements, neighborhood directories, historic photographs, and other information related to the history of a neighborhood. Records may be maintained by the organizations or may be on file in local library or historical collections.
City, Neighborhood, and Telephone Directories: Available in local or regional libraries, historical societies, and community collections, these directories give the name and addresses of residents and their affiliated businesses as well as identify active merchants, suppliers of construction materials, designers, and contractors. Historic city directories for major cities are also available on microfilm in many libraries.
Records of Local Chapters: Local chapters of professional and trade organizations should be contacted for information about historic events and the role of former members in the form of historic correspondence, official minutes, and newsletters. These include chapters of the AIA, ASLA, NCCP, NAHB, NAREB, as well as regionally based associations.



continued: Figure 6. Historical Sources for Researching Local Patterns of Suburbanization
WPA Real Property Surveys: During the 1930s many local governments, using Works Projects Administration (WPA) funds, compiled large-scale, city block maps that recorded information about real estate development and land use. The FHA used these maps to graphically illustrate statistical data on housing in metropolitan areas. Many of these maps are among the Records of the FHA (Record Group 31) in the Cartographic Division of the National Archives. Others may be on file in local libraries or archives.
Housing Market Analysis Maps: Compiled by the FHA beginning in 1937, these maps indicated areas surrounding selected cities where it was considered safe to underwrite mortgages and were supplemented by data concerning commuting times, the location and condition of main highways, and the location of defense areas. These maps are among the Records of the FHA (Record Group 31) in the Cartographic Division of the National Archives.
Pattern Books, Mail Order Catalogs, and Landscape Guidebooks: Sources of popular house and yard designs by architects, landscape architects, and mail-order companies such as Sears, Roebuck, Aladdin, and Van Tine. Many are available in libraries in the form of published reprints, microfilm, or CD-ROM, such as the microfiche edition of the Architectural Trade Catalogs from the Columbia's Avery Library or the microfilm collection of American Architectural Books (New Haven: Research Publications).
Home and Garden Periodicals: Popular trends in the design of house and yard, including new designs, alterations and additions, housing materials, gardening hints, and interior furnishings. Also a source for model house plans and garden layouts, as well as information about design awards and their recipients. Advertisements provide an excellent source of information on materials for remedying and new construction. Many historic periodicals are available in libraries on microfilm or CD-ROM. Garden and Forest is now available on the website of the Library of Congress.
• Trade Directories, Catalogs and Periodicals: Source of advertising for building materials, plans, illustrations, and information about innovative techniques, new materials, and award-winning designs. Specialized libraries or archival collections may be the best source for these materials. A number of these, including Sweets Architectural Trade Catalogs, are available in libraries on microfilm or microfiche. Advertising circulars, such as Philadelphia's Real Estate Reports and Building News, contain references to local builders and architects and their ongoing projects. National directories include the Blue Book of Major Home Builders, which began publication in the mid-twentieth century.
For additional information about archival sources, readers should also refer to the National Register bulletins, Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis for Preservation Planning (rev. 1985) and Researching a Historic Property (rev. 1998).



Most historic resource surveys are conducted in two phases once background research has been completed. During the first, called the reconnaissance survey, the study area is surveyed to identify subdivisions and other property types illustrating local patterns of suburbanization. Observations are systematically recorded about the general character and condition of numerous subdivisions and neighborhoods.

During the second phase, called the intensive-level survey, more detailed information is gathered on one or more neighborhoods and other resources believed to meet the National Register criteria. Survey at this level proceeds with the purpose of verifying significance and integrity, establishing appropriate boundaries, and gathering sufficient documentation to complete a National Register nomination.

Because of their large size and great number, residential suburbs present a challenge to preservationists and decision makers. Field survey, data analysis, and reporting methods can be greatly facilitated through the use of an electronic database that can store, sort, and report data in a number of ways. The State historic preservation office or Certified Local Government should be contacted for guidelines about data entry and retrieval systems currently being used for the statewide comprehensive survey and acceptable formats for National Register nominations.

Survey Forms:

Field observations, as well as facts gathered from historical research, should be recorded in a systematic and uniform way. Generally this is done on inventory forms provided by the State historic preservation office. The forms selected for use should be appropriate for the level of the survey and the types of historic properties likely to be found in the survey area.

During a reconnaissance survey, the use of a multi-structure or historic district form may be most useful for recording preliminary information about a subdivision, neighborhood, or streetscape cluster. For intensive survey, a more detailed district form may be needed, as well as individual structure forms to document the character and condition of individual buildings or groups of buildings having common characteristics. Since survey requirements vary from State to State, surveyors should work out a plan with the State or local preservation office for making the best use of existing survey forms and deciding how additional information, such as street patterns or spatial organization, is to be collected. Some State programs use the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (NPS 10-900) or a similar form for recording intensive-level survey data, including an inventory of contributing and noncontributing resourc-es. (161)

 Information needed to evaluate the significance of a particular residential subdivision or neighborhood depends to a large degree on the chronological period in which it developed and the historical factors that shaped it. Factors, such as the income level of prospective home owners, the relationship of subdivider and home builder, and methods of house construction, varied from period to period and frequently defined a neighborhood's physical character, as well as social history.

Survey techniques should be appropriate to the type of properties one expects to find. The forms used should enable surveyors to cross-reference property files and add fields or textual explanations to supplement the basic survey data. Since many survey forms currently in use do not record information about site planning or landscape design, decisions should be made before the survey begins on how information about spatial organization, circulation network, street plantings, and other landscape characteristics is to be recorded.

Field Reference Materials:

The master list of residential subdivisions and the composite or overlay maps prepared for the local historic context (see Developing a Statement of Context ) serve as valuable reference materials during field survey. In addition, copies of the following documents will be useful:
• current street maps, planning maps, and U.S.G.S. quadrants;
• early transportation maps, indicating streetcar routes, parkways and boulevards, and highways;
• aerial photographs (dating back as early as the 1930s in some communities);
• historic subdivision plats;
• historic photographs and illustrations; and
• fire insurance maps, such as those produced by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company.

Field reference materials should provide a level of detail appropriate for the type of survey being conducted. For example, historic plats and current planning maps showing principal streets, location and boundaries of residential land use, and principal topographic features, are useful for reconnaissance surveys, while tax parcel maps and Sanborn maps showing the size, shape, and location of individual house lots provide detailed information useful in intensive-level surveys.

The Reconnaissance Survey:

Information gathered during the reconnaissance survey strengthens the local historic context, making it possible to identify locally significant property types and set registration requirements for National Register eligibility. The survey should result in an inventory of historic neighborhoods, subdivisions, and other resources that are potentially eligible for National Register listing. Survey results can be used to select the best approach for nominating eligible properties to the National Register and set priorities for local preservation planning.

Information collected should:

• Provide a general picture of the distribution of different kinds of subdivisions and house types in relationship to historic transportation routes.
• Verify, refine, and expand information gathered through literature and archival sources about patterns of suburbanization and the characteristics of historic suburbs in the local or metropolitan area.
• Provide enough information on the character and condition of specific neighborhoods to identify locally important property types, such as planned communities or apartment villages, and make recommendations on neighborhoods and other related resources that merit intensive-level survey and may be eligible for National Register listing.
•Provide an understanding of the factors that threaten the integrity of historic neighborhoods, and help establish a threshold for evaluating historic integrity of individual neighborhoods and determining general registration requirements.

During field work, surveyors should take special note of and record information about neighborhoods, as well as individual resources, which are likely to represent important property types and illustrate important aspects of the region's suburbanization. Such properties may include:

• residential subdivisions, or groups of contiguous subdivisions, that represent broad national trends in transportation, subdivision design, community planning, architecture, or landscape architecture;
• neighborhoods that possess historic associations with events or activities in the history of a local community or metropolitan area, or represent locally distinctive methods of construction or design characteristics;
• clusters or streetscapes having historic values, associations, or design characteristics that distinguish them from the larger subdivision of which they were originally a part;
• single homes associated with persons important in our past or distinctive for their architectural design or method of construction, or as the work of a master;
• and community centers, schools, and shopping centers within or adjacent to a residential neighborhood which are associated with important historic events or possess architectural distinction.

While the residential subdivision is the focus of survey activities, historic neighborhoods may extend beyond the boundaries of a single subdivision. Historic associations or physical characteristics linking these areas should be documented and considered in making recommendations about their collective significance or National Register eligibility. Conversely, where a historically important neighborhood no longer possesses historic integrity in its entirety, a smaller area retaining significant qualities and associations may be eligible. Individually eligible resources associated with the suburbanization context but located outside the boundaries of a potentially eligible historic district should also be identified.



Organizing an Itinerary

Organize an automobile itinerary that follows historic transportation routes as closely as possible, directing surveyors from the oldest to the newest subdivisions so they can gain a sense of the range of variation that occurred in housing types and subdivision design throughout the community's history.

Because the boundaries of historic subdivisions are often invisible in the field and may not be evident on contemporary street maps, it is a good idea to have copies of historic maps, plats, and aerial photographs, as well as the composite map or series of overlay maps prepared for the historic context. This is especially important when surveying older suburbs where housing was built in small subdivisions by a variety of builders, often following the rectilinear urban grid, and where subdivision boundaries are not necessarily signaled by changes in architectural style, housing type, or street design.

Recording Field Observations

Following the itinerary and using current and historic street maps as a guide, proceed in two stages. First, drive through as many subdivisions as possible making general notes and taking photographs. Second, for each major subdivision, neighborhood, or distinctive cluster, record field observations incorporating information gathered from maps, plats, and other field reference materials.

Surveyors should be prepared to take photographs, annotate field maps, and complete survey forms as they proceed through each subdivision. It is important to note the presence of distinctive features of architecture, landscape design, and community planning that might be attributes of historic significance and should receive further documentation during an intensive survey. This includes unusual house types, distinctive architectural types, characteristic streetscapes, evidence of professional principles of landscape design, important vernacular trends in housing or yard design, or highly distinctive site plans. Similarly, note interesting historical associations or observations on community life, such as annual traditions, the role of a citizens' association, or the presence of a community center.

One can expect to find a huge variation in the size and design of neighborhoods. Those subdivided before World War II may be relatively small in size, often consisting of little more than a single, rectilinear street with a handful of rectangular lots to either side. In these cases it may be useful to develop a system of classifying such subdivisions by attributes-such as street pattern or architectural variety-to define local patterns and establish a set of local property types, or to look for common characteristics that link subdivisions into larger historic neighborhoods.

Analyzing Survey Results:

Survey data should be incorporated into the written statement of context, and connections made between broad patterns of local suburbanization and the development of specific suburbs and neighborhoods. At this point, the master list of subdivisions can be annotated to include information about developers, builders, architects, site planners, and other designers and to note important events in social history that illustrate locally important themes or trends. Also, note the condition of specific subdivisions and the general nature of changes that each area has undergone since the end of the historic period.

Information about distinctive characteristics of site planning, housing, or landscape design should be used to define significant local patterns, to document the work of important designers, and to identify properties that should be more closely examined for significance in architecture, landscape architecture, or community planning during the intensive survey. Likewise, information about events in the neighborhood's cultural or social history should be used to identify neighborhoods associated with significant patterns of community life and social change. Survey information about condition of local residential suburbs and housing types will help establish thresholds for evaluating historic integrity in the local area.

From this synthesis, it is possible to 1) define the set of locally important property types, 2) formulate registration requirements for National Register listing, and 3) compile a list of subdivisions, neighborhoods and other properties that appear eligible for the National Register and merit intensive-level survey.

Analysis of survey data will also suggest areas of further research, appropriate research methods, and special concerns for significance or integrity. For example, observations about the range of housing types may suggest clues about the relationship of subdividers and builders, the period of development, sources of design, and use of restrictive deeds, which can be substantiated through further research conducted during the intensive-level survey. The presence of original home owners or an active neighborhood organization may indicate opportunities for conducting oral history or viewing community records.

Identifying Significant Patterns of Development

While the significance of a residential suburb depends to a large degree on the local or regional context, the following characteristics generally indicate aspects of a neighborhood's history that may reflect important local or metropolitan trends and should receive further study through an intensive-level survey to verify National Register eligibility.

• The neighborhood's planning and construction related to the expansion of local industry, wartime industry, important stages in metropolitan development, or broad national trends such as returning GI's, the Better Homes movement, and the bungalow craze.
• The neighborhood-through its site plan, overall landscape design, and house design-reflects historic principles of design or achieved high artistic quality in the areas of community planning, landscape architecture, or architecture.
• The subdivider and site planners responsible for the platting and construction of the subdivision figured prominently in the suburban development of the locality or region and made substantial contributions to its character and the availability of housing.
• The neighborhood's design represents the work of one or more established professional designers-site planners, landscape architects, architects, or engineers.
• The subdivision design resulted from the collaboration of professionals representing several fields of design, such as landscape architecture and architecture.
• The neighborhood exemplifies the role that a certain type of developer (subdivider, home builder, community builder, operative builder, or merchant builder) played in the growth and development of the locality or metropolitan region.
• The neighborhood was designed to conform to FHA-standards and represents one of the "earliest," "most successful," "largest," "finest," or "most influential" examples locally.
• Historic neighborhoods possessing a high degree of integrity and exhibiting distinctive elements of design in the subdivision plan, landscape architecture, or domestic architecture.
• Historic neighborhoods reflecting important advances, established principles, or popular trends in community planning or landscape architecture.
• Neighborhoods containing homes in a variety of period styles, or representing the work of one or a number of noted architects.
• Neighborhoods whose housing represents one or more locally important housing types (e.g., bungalows and foursquares).
• Residential neighborhoods associated with important local industries or local events and activities that are known to have stimulated suburban growth and development.
• Neighborhoods historically associated with important events in the Civil Rights movement to provide equal access to housing.
• Neighborhoods associated with important patterns of ethnic settlement that contributed to local growth and development.
• Neighborhoods with homes that received recognition or awards from professional organizations, trade organizations, architectural journals, popular magazines, or housing research foundations.
• Neighborhoods that introduced or established patterns of subdivision design, housing, financing, or building practices that became influential in the local community, metropolitan area, or elsewhere.

Conducting an Intensive-Level Survey and Compiling National Register Documentation:

Intensive-level survey provides a comprehensive study of selected neighborhoods and gathers the detailed information necessary to document properties for National Register listing and make determinations of eligibility. Building upon the general observations made during the reconnaissance survey, the intensive-level survey provides detailed, factual information about the history and physical evolution of one or more subdivisions or neighborhoods believed to be eligible for National Register listing.

The intensive survey closely examines the neighborhood's historic significance, integrity, and boundaries, firmly establishing its place within the local historical context. Survey at this level gathers sufficient information to confirm National Register eligibility and to document the property according to National Register standards.

Documenting the Physical Evolution of a Historic Residential Suburb

During intensive-level survey, additional field observations and research provide an in-depth record of the current character and condition of a historic neighborhood and document its physical evolution and history. The guidelines in Figure 7 list the information that should be gathered during the intensive-level survey and reported on the National Register registration form.

Several historical documents provide valuable comparative data for tracing the physical evolution of a historic neighborhood. A comparison of the neighborhood as it exists today and the original plat helps determine the extent to which the plan was carried out and the periods of time when housing was constructed. Such a comparison will also help determine whether the neighborhood was developed by a subdivider, who consequently sold unbuilt lots to builders, or, by a community builder, who not only sold lots but also supervised the construction of houses. Historic photographs, illustrations, maps and aerial photographs also reveal changes. In addition, fire insurance maps, such as Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps, drawn soon after the completion of the subdivision, can be compared with more recent maps to identify later construction. Recorded deeds and sometimes tax records provide reliable dates of construction, which can be used to create a series of period maps showing the neighborhood's evolution.

During the intensive-level survey, it is important to document the physical evolution of the neighborhood, identifying who was responsible for the subdivision plan as well as the design of houses and landscape features. This means:

• Determining which profile of developer (e.g. subdivider, home builder, community builder, operative builder, or merchant builder) the developer most closely fits.
• Explaining the relationship between the developer and any site planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and home builders who contributed to the design of the neighborhood.
• Documenting the specific contributions of each professional group and of individual designers collaborating on the neighborhood's design.
• Providing documentary evidence that deed restrictions were used, mentioning specific provisions of such restrictions and explaining how they influenced the character of the subdivision.
• Indicating whether the original developer remained in charge of executing the plan and, if not, describing any major changes made by subsequent developers.

Classifying House Types for Inventory Purposes

An intensive survey of one or more residential suburbs often covers an area of considerable extent and literally hundreds of houses and other resources. Decisions need to be made about how houses and streetscapes can be surveyed most efficiently so that determinations can be made about district boundaries and the classification of contributing and noncontributing resources. Sufficient information should be drawn from the reconnaissance survey to determine whether a building-by-building survey is needed or whether there are sufficient similarities of construction and design so that resources can be grouped in categories based on common housing types. Such a typology can then be used to define significant patterns as well as facilitate the collection of information about condition and integrity which is needed to complete the building-by-building inventory of contributing and noncontributing resources.

Many subdivisions, especially during and after World War II, offered prospective owners a limited number of house types, sometimes being distinguished only by the number of rooms, roof design, or exterior wall materials. For this reason, when conducting an intensive survey in a neighborhood of similarly-designed houses, perhaps designed by a single architect and constructed by a single builder, it makes sense to classify houses or housing units by type and provide a general description of each type. An inventory can be compiled by listing each house by street address or building number and indicating its type according to the general classification scheme and noting its condition, any major alterations or additions, and status as contributing or noncontributing.

For example, in an FHA-approved neighborhood having a dozen house types, the description of House Type 2-B might read:

House Type 2-B is a six-room, two-story hipped roof variation of the standard 1144 square foot home whose lower-story is clad with painted brick and upper story wooden clapboard. The house originally featured metal casement windows, a side porch, and a side chimney. A pedimented doorway, paneled door, and a moulded entablature reflect minimal Colonial Revival styling.

An inventory entry for one such house could then read:

1212 Columbus Street, an example of Type 2-B, having an enclosed porch, matching aluminum siding over wooden clapboards on upper story, and replacement double-hung, vinyl windows on principal facades. Otherwise house is in good condition. Contributing.

For more information on documenting historic suburbs, refer to the Documentation and Registration section and the National Register Bulletin, How to Complete the National Register Registration Form.

Figure 7. Guidelines for Surveying Historic Residential Suburbs
The following list should be used as a guide for gathering historical facts and recording field observations that can be used to expand the historic context and to identify National Register eligible properties. Characteristics or evidence noted during the reconnaissance survey should be documented during the intensive-level survey.
1. Relationship to transportation routes and other factors influencing location of subdivision
• Identify the modes of transportation that residents historically used to travel between home and work.
• Note the proximity to former streetcar routes and other transportation corridors, including ferry crossings, boulevards, parkways, major arterials, highways, railroad lines, bus routes, and subways.
• Mention common destinations for commuters other than the center city, for example, centers of defense industry.
• Mention other factors, including demographic patterns, politics, economics, and natural topography, that influenced the subdivision's location and design.



continued Figure 7. Guidelines for Surveying Historic Residential Suburbs
2. Site plan and subdivision design
• Date and describe the subdivision plan, including the date of plat, boundaries, location, approximate size (acreage and/or number of blocks), the approximate number and type of streets (curvilinear or rectilinear), the provision for pedestrian walkways or sidewalks, overall density, and general lot size.
• Identify the developer, site planner, or engineer responsible for the subdivision design. Note any indications that the plan resulted from the collaboration of designers from different fields.
• Describe the circulation network, indicating whether the street pattern is rectilinear or curvilinear and whether it follows the urban gridiron plan or natural topography. Indicate whether a hierarchy of roads is evident (from wide collector streets to narrow cul-de-sacs), noting the presence of entrances, wide collector streets, side streets, courts and cul-de-sacs, circles, and peripheral arterial streets.
• Note evidence of established principles of landscape design or important trends in community planning (e.g., radial plans with circles and circular drives indicating the influence of City Beautiful movement or curvilinear streets and cul-de-sacs characteristic of FHA standards).
• Describe the nature and location of improvements made by the subdivider (e.g. utilities, paved roads, public parks, and reservoirs). Indicate physical evidence of the use of deed restrictions (e.g., mandatory setbacks, uniformity of housing type).
• Note variations between the subdivision plan as drawn on the plat and as carried out. Note any evidence indicating that subdivision was developed in distinct stages (e.g. noticeable changes in street design or house types).
• Describe major alterations since the historic period, including street closures or widenings, consolidation of lots, out-of-scale additions, further subdivision of lots (infill), and new land uses or incompatible activities.
3. Character and condition of housing
Because great variation exists in house types, surveyors should make detailed observations and photographs making sure that information is gathered on the types of housing associated with all social groups and income levels historically associated with local history and development. Although published style guides are useful for describing general housing styles and types, surveyors should look for local and regional variations and confirm dates of construction using local records. Surveyors should also consider the influence of local firms of small house architects, FHA standards, local home building practices, and availability of ready-cut houses in examining house types.
• Describe the general pattern of housing (dwelling types, chronological distribution, sources of design and construction, building materials, and income range).
• Indicate the approximate number of dwellings, noting whether they are single-family (detached) houses, multiple family (attached and semi-detached) units, or a combination of the two.
• Describe the architectural styles and types represented by the dwellings and garages, noting similarities and variations that reflect the relationship between a developer and builder or exhibit characteristics of a particular period or method of construction.
• Identify architects and home builders responsible for the design of houses.
• Estimate the approximate span of years represented by housing types, noting the character of predominant or distinctive house types and styles. Describe the various periods of construction and provide a general chronology of housing types from the earliest to most recent types. (More accurate dates can be added during intensive-level survey). Note evidence of gaps and changes in construction due to events such as the Great Depression, World War II, bankruptcies, or changing ownership.
• Note distinctive aspects of design and construction, such as materials, size, elements of architectural style, use of prefabricated components, provision for scenic views, and relationship between house and its setting.
• Indicate if housing collectively serves an important design element (e.g., through common set backs or architectural materials, giving the neighborhood a cohesive yet varied character).
• Describe the general condition of housing, including the nature of alterations to individual homes (houses and lots)-e.g., siding, raised roofs, enclosure of carports, construction of garages and additions, changes to windows (materials and fenestration), porch enclosures, and addition of porches, dormers, and nonhistoric garages.
4. Distinctive aspects of landscape design
Field observations are often the best source of information about street plantings, yard design, and the relationship between a subdivision plat and natural topography. Adherence to principles of landscape design may be evident through the careful arrangement of streets to follow the natural topography, an irregular artistic division of land into house lots, the provision of parks and parkways to accommodate water drainage as well as enhance the neighborhood's beauty, and the presence of a unifying program of landscape plantings. These characteristics help identify subdivisions that may be the work of established masters of design or have high artistic values and, therefore, merit further study and contextual development.
• Describe the relationship of street design and overall site plan to the natural topography, noting distinctive street patterns, the way site is divided into house lots, and provisions for site drainage and parks.
• Describe elements of landscape design seen in entrance ways, street plantings, boundary demarcations, recessed roadways, treatment of corner lots, traffic circles, historic gardens, and the grading of community facilities.
• Identify principal types of vegetation, noting distinctive patterns such as use of ornamental or shade trees, shrubbery, and specimen trees. Indicate principal species using common, and, if known, Latin names. Although plants and trees are best identified during seasonal displays of flowers or foliage, they can be recognized at other times of the year by their bark and fruit.
• Note evidence of deed restrictions seen in uniform setbacks, similarity of architectural style, and open, unfenced yards.
• Describe distinctive materials and evidence of workmanship in entrance signs or portals, ornamental plantings, curbs, bridges, gutters, walls, and walkways.
• Note distinctive features associated with utilities and street improvements, including lighting, absence or presence of telephone poles and power lines, reservoirs and water towers, sewer, curbs, sidewalks, gutters.
• Describe the general size of lots and the placement of houses on each lot, including the arrangement of corner lots.
• Note whether streetscapes have uniform setbacks, form a regular or irregular pattern, or exhibit striking vistas.
• Describe distinctive patterns of yard design: open lawns, perimeter fences or hedges, stairways and walls, patios and outdoor terraces, gardens, specimen plants, and foundation plantings.


continued Figure 7. Guidelines for Surveying Historic Residential Suburbs
5. Presence of community facilities, such as schools and stores.
• Describe and date community buildings, shopping areas, parks, civic centers, club houses, country clubs, schools, and other facilities that were built within or adjoining the neighborhood.
• Explain whether these facilities were part of the neighborhood's original design, and describe how they served and supported suburban life.
• Note any distinctive elements of design present in the architectural styles, landscape design, or methods of construction, and identify architects or landscape designers responsible for their design.
6. Patterns of social history
• Provide a general profile of original or early home owners, noting typical occupations, income group, and ethnic or racial associations. (Keeping in mind that prior to the end of the 1940s, deed restrictions were often used to exclude residents on the basis of income, profession, race, and religion.)
• Mention the presence of a citizens' association and established community traditions.
• Note whether or not the subdivision is part of a larger historic neighborhood, and define the characteristics that link it to the larger area.
• Name local industries or institutions (such as colleges or defense plants) that created demand for housing.
• Note changing patterns of ownership, indicating approximate dates of general trends and describing the effects of change on the physical character and social history of the neighborhood.
• Note possible significance in social history and suggest directions for further research, such as oral history and or the review of community held records.




The evaluation process entails three major activities: defining significance, assessing historic integrity, and selecting boundaries. Information gathered during the intensive survey about the history and condition of a neighborhood is related to the historic patterns of suburbanization that shaped the locality or metropolitan area where it is located. Ultimately the evaluation process verifies whether or not a property meets the National Register criteria for evaluation and is eligible for National Register listing.

The written statement of historic context containing information about the local or metropolitan patterns of transportation, subdivision design, and housing-makes it possible to determine the extent to which a neighborhood represents local or regional patterns and is associated with important events, activities, or persons that contributed in important ways to the growth and development of the community. The reconnaissance survey, furthermore, provides comparative information about the condition of historic neighborhoods and subdivisions, enabling researchers to eliminate from further consideration those that have lost their historic integrity.

Decisions about significance, integrity, and boundaries depend on the historical record as well as the presence of physical features of subdivision design and housing. Aspects of design such as spatial organization present in the general plan of development, the layout of streets and pedestrian paths, and the arrangement of house lots, may be important as indicators of historic patterns of development as the styles or design of housing.

Historic period, relationship to transportation corridors, cohesive planning principles, socioeconomic conditions, real estate trends, and architectural character usually impart distinctive characteristics that distinguish the historic neighborhood from the development that surrounds it. Recognition of these factors early in the process makes it possible to place a particular suburb in the national context for suburbanization as well as local or metropolitan contexts. Knowledge of these factors can be used in making comparisons among neighborhoods of similar age, understanding local patterns of history and development, and in defining historic districts that meet the National Register criteria.

Early identification of the type of residential suburb (e.g. railroad suburb, streetcar suburb) will help the researcher identify areas of significance as well as characteristic features that may be present. Knowledge of the dates when a neighborhood was subdivided and its dwellings constructed will provide a foundation for understanding its physical layout, the design of its housing, its relationship to important stages of local history and development, and its association with important local events.

Although the residential subdivision is a logical unit for study, historic neighborhoods are not necessarily defined by lines drawn on a historic subdivision plat. Historic districts meeting the definition of a historic residential suburb may consist of one or a group of subdivisions, or they may occupy a small portion of a large subdivision. Decisions about significance, integrity, and boundaries, therefore, should take into consideration factors concerning social history and community development of large areas of residential development that broadly meet the definition of "historic residential suburb," as well as the architecture and site planning of individual subdivisions.


Figure 8. How Residential Suburbs Meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation
Criterion A

•Neighborhood reflects an important historic trend in the development and growth of a locality or metropolitan area.
• Suburb represents an important event or association, such as the expansion of housing associated with wartime industries during World War II, or the racial integration of suburban neighborhoods in the 1950s.
• Suburb introduced conventions of community planning important in the history of suburbanization, such as zoning, deed restrictions, or subdivision regulations.
• Neighborhood is associated with the heritage of social, economic, racial, or ethnic groups important in the history of a locality or metropolitan area.
• Suburb is associated with a group of individuals, including merchants, industrialists, educators, and community leaders, important in the history and development of a locality or metropolitan area.
Criterion B
• Neighborhood is directly associated with the life and career of an individual who made important contributions to the history of a locality or metropolitan area.
Criterion C
• Collection of residential architecture is an important example of distinctive period of construction, method of construction, or the work of one or more notable architects.
• Suburb reflects principles of design important in the history of community planning and landscape architecture, or is the work of a master landscape architect, site planner, or design firm.
• Subdivision embodies high artistic values through its overall plan or the design of entrance ways, streets, homes, and community spaces.
Criterion D
• Neighborhoods likely to yield important information about vernacular house types, yard design, gardening practices, and patterns of domestic life.
In certain cases, a single home or small group of houses in a residential subdivision may be eligible for National Register listing because of outstanding design characteristics (Criterion C) or association with a highly important individual or event (Criterion A or B).


Defining historic significance requires a close analysis of information about the development and design of a particular historic neighborhood and an understanding of local, metropolitan, and national trends of suburbanization. The property is viewed in relationship to the broad patterns of suburbanization that shaped a community, State or the Nation, and to determine whether the area under study meets one or more of the National Register Criteria for Evaluation.

Applying the National Register Criteria and Criteria Considerations:

To be eligible for National Register listing, a residential suburb must possess significance in at least one of the four aspects of cultural heritage specified by the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. In addition, neighborhoods less than 50 years of age must meet Criteria Consideration G by possessing exceptional importance and figure 8 outlines some of the ways neighborhoods typically meet the National Register criteria.

Association with Important Events and Persons

Historic residential suburbs typically reflect the outward spread of metropolitan areas and the growth and development of communities. For this reason, residential districts are commonly evaluated under Criterion A for their association with important events or patterns in community history or with groups of residents (not specific individuals) who collectively made important contributions to the area's prosperity or identity as a place of industry, government, education, or social reform.

Criterion B applies to neighborhoods directly associated with one or more individuals who made important contributions to history. Such individuals must have exerted important influence on the neighborhood's sense of community or historic identity and they must have gained considerable recognition beyond the neighborhood. This includes prominent residents, such as a leading political figure or social reformer. Criterion B also applies to neighborhoods that are associated with important developers and best represent their contributions to significant local or metropolitan patterns of suburbanization. Subdivisions representing the work of prominent site planners, architects, or landscape architects should be evaluated under Criterion C, unless they also served as their residence during an important period of their career. For more information about applying Criterion B, refer to the National Register bulletin, Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Properties Associated with Significant Persons.


Distinctive Characteristics of Design

Historic residential suburbs often reflect popular national trends in subdivision design, such as the Picturesque style of the nineteenth century or FHA-recommended curvilinear plans. They may also reflect popular architectural styles, housing types, and principles of landscape architecture. Such districts are evaluated under Criterion C to determine if they embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, style, or method of construction; or represent the work of a master architect, landscape architect, or community planner. Historic neighborhoods that form "a significant and distinguishable entity whose components," including streets and homes, "lack individual distinction" are also evaluated under Criterion C.

Qualifying physical characteristics, under Criterion C, may be present in the overall plan, the architectural design of dwellings and other buildings, and the landscape design of the overall subdivision or of individual homes, parks, or parkways. Significance under Criterion C requires that the features that mark distinction in planning, architecture, and landscape design remain intact and recognizable.

Organization of space is a key factor in ascribing significance in community planning and landscape architecture. Visible in the general or master plan and aerial photographs, spatial organization is defined by the relationship between design and natural topography, the arrangement of streets and house lots, the arrangement of buildings and landscape features on each lot, and the provision of common spaces, such as walkways, playgrounds, and parks. The recognition of important local patterns may require examining records held by the local planning or zoning office, the development company, or architectural firms involved with construction, as well as making comparisons with other suburbs in the local area from the same period of time. Significance in landscape architecture may also derive from special features such as a unified program of street lighting or tree plantings; the landscape design of yards, entrance ways, or roadways; the presence of scenic vistas; or conservation of natural features.

Distinctive architectural design may be present in a variety of building types-dwellings, garages, carriage houses, community buildings, gate houses, and sheds. Buildings may reflect a cohesive architectural type and style with some variation (e.g. Cape Cod or Ranch) or they may reflect a variety of period or regional styles such as Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, or Mediterranean. Homogeneity or diversity of housing types and style may be an important architectural characteristic and be an important indicator of the overall design intent of the suburb as well as its period of development. Information about the developer and the various architects and landscape architects involved in the design of a subdivision is important to understanding the character of a residential subdivision, ascribing design significance, and placing a suburb in a local, metropolitan, State, or national context.

Ability to Yield Important Information

Criterion D is applied to the evaluation of pre- or post-contact sites, such as remnant mills and farmsteads that predate land subdivision and remain intact in parks, stream valleys, flood-plain, or steep hillsides. Such sites may provide information important to historic contexts other than suburbanization. In addition, historical archeology of home grounds may provide important information about the organization of domestic grounds, vernacular house types, gardening practices, or patterns of domestic life. When used in tandem with documentary sources, historical archeology helps define data sets and research questions important in understanding patterns of suburbanization and domestic life. For additional guidance, consult the National Register bulletin, Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Archeological Sites and Districts.

Evaluation under Criterion Consideration G

Criterion Consideration G states that properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years may qualify for National Register listing if they are an integral part of a historic district that meets the criteria or if they have exceptional importance.

The post-World War II building boom, spurred by the availability of low-cost, long-term mortgages for home owners and financial credits for builders, resulted in the widespread development of suburban subdivisions that were not only large in size but vast in number. In coming years as many of these approach 50 years of age, there will be increasing pressure to evaluate their eligibility for listing in the National Register. Their evaluation raises several questions concerning Criterion Consideration G and the National Register's 50-year guideline.

When must a historic subdivision or neighborhood possess "exceptional importance" as a requirement for National Register listing? Specific dates for the overall site design and the construction of component resources are needed to determine when a case for exceptional importance is necessary to support eligibility or listing. Such a case must be made for subdivisions which were platted and laid out and where the majority of homes were constructed within the last 50 years. It is also required for neighborhoods importantly associated with events that occurred within the past 50 years even though the homes were built during an earlier period, for example an older neighborhood importantly associated with the Civil Rights movement.

Is "exceptional importance" a requirement for a neighborhood whose construction began more than 50 years ago but was completed within the past 50 years? Because subdivisions were typically constructed over a period of many years, it is not uncommon to encounter a subdivision where streets and utilities were laid out and home construction begun more than 50 years ago, but where construction continued into the recent past. As a general rule, when a neighborhood as a whole was laid out more than 50 years ago and the majority of homes and other resources are greater than 50 years of age, a case for exceptional importance is not needed. In such cases, the period of significance may be extended a reasonable length of time (e.g., five or six years) within the less-than-50-year period to recognize the contribution of resources that, although less-than-50-years of age, are consistent with the neighborhood's historic plan and character.

When the majority of homes and other resources, however, are less than 50 years of age, a case for exceptional importance is required. Subdivisions of this type found not to possess exceptional importance should be reevaluated when the majority of resources achieve 50 years of age.

Regional contexts should be developed in areas where suburbanization was widespread and numerous planned subdivisions took form during the postwar era. Such a context can help 1) establish a chronology of the region's suburban development, 2) target neighborhoods to be surveyed, and 3) identify exceptional examples that may be nominated before the majority of dwellings reach 50 years of age. To determine exceptional importance within a local, metropolitan, or regional context, it is necessary to consider a neighborhood's history in relationship to the overall local trends of post-World War II suburbanization as well as national patterns. Comparisons with other neighborhoods of the same period make it possible to identify distinctive or representative examples and to determine the extent to which they possess historic integrity.

For further guidance, you may wish to refer to the National Register bulletin, Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties That Have Achieved Significance Within the Last Fifty Years.

Selecting Areas of Significance:

Area of significance is that aspect of history in which a historic property through design, use, physical characteristics, or association influenced the history and identity of a local area, region, State, or the Nation. The following areas of significance are commonly applied to historic neighborhoods important under Criterion A or B for their association with important events and persons.

Government applies to those that reflect early or particularly important responses to government financing, adherence to government standards, or the institution of zoning by local governments.
Education, medicine, or government may be areas of significance when a significant concentration of residents was associated with a locally important center of government, hospital, or university.
Industry applies when a suburb, by design or circumstance, served the need for housing for workers in a particular industrial activity, such as defense production during World War II.
Transportation recognizes the direct association of a neighborhood or community with important advances in transportation and incorporation of innovative transportation facilities, such as a railroad station or circulation system that separates pedestrian and motor traffic.
Social history recognizes the contributions of a historic neighborhood to the improvement of living conditions through the introduction of an innovative type of housing or neighborhood planning principles, or the extension of the American dream of suburban life or home ownership to an increasing broad spectrum of Americans.
Ethnic Heritage recognizes the significant association of a historic neighborhood with a particular ethnic or racial group.

The following areas are commonly applied to historic suburbs important for their design under Criterion C:

Community planning and development applies to areas reflecting important patterns of physical development, land division, or land use.
Landscape architecture applies when significant qualities are embodied in the overall design or plan of the suburb and the artistic design of landscape features such as paths, roadways, parks, and vegetation.
Architecture is used when significant qualities are embodied in the design, style, or method of construction of buildings and structures, such as houses, garages, carriage houses, sheds, bridges, gate houses, and community facilities.

Where subdivision design resulted from the collaboration of real estate developers, architects, and landscape architects, significance in all three areas-community planning and development, architecture, and landscape architecture-should be recognized and the contributions of designers representing each profession documented. Historic suburbs may be eligible under Criterion C for their reflection of important design characteristics or as the work of a master; those that made important contributions to the theory of landscape design or community planning may also be significant under Criterion A.

Defining Period of Significance:

Period of significance is the span of time when a historic property was associated with important events, activities, persons, cultural groups, and land uses, or attained important physical qualities or characteristics. The period of significance defined for a historic district is used to classify contributing and noncontributing resources.

Neighborhoods significant under Criterion A often have historic periods spanning many years to correspond with important historic associations and events in community life. The historic period for neighborhoods associated with an important person under Criterion B should be based on the years when the person resided in the community or was actively involved in community affairs. The period of significance for neighborhoods qualifying under Criterion C generally corresponds to the actual years when the design was executed and construction took place; this will vary depending on the type of suburb and the circumstances under which it took form. For example, suburbs built by merchant builders after World War II are likely to have shorter periods of significance than those laid out earlier in the century by subdividers who were in the business of selling empty lots in improved subdivisions.

Period plans and maps are useful for gaining an understanding of how a neighborhood evolved and for determining the corresponding period of significance. Generally the period of significance for a historic suburb important under Criterion C begins with the date when the streets, house lots, and utilities were laid out and extends to the date when the plan was fully realized or the construction of homes substantially completed. The date of the historic plat may be used as the beginning date only when site improvements were begun shortly afterwards.

National trends of suburbanization as well as local economic factors, including the impact of major worldwide events such as the Great Depression and World War II, influenced the length of time in which historic suburbs formed and the extent to which earlier plans were carried out or modified. Such factors should be considered in defining an appropriate period of significance. Where development was interrupted resulting in lengthy periods when no construction occurred (e.g., a decade or more), it may be appropriate to define several periods of significance.

Where construction occurred over the course of many years, the period of significance may be extended to include more recent construction than 50 years provided it is in keeping with the suburb's historic design and evolution and satisfies the National Register's 50-year guideline. To determine an appropriate closing date for the period of significance, several questions should be answered: What factors (e.g. early plat, deed restrictions, availability of financing) defined the neighborhood's social history and physical character during its early development? How long did these factors continue to influence the character or social history of the district? Are the more recently constructed dwellings of the district, by their location, size, scale, and style, consistent with the suburb's overall historic plan and earlier housing? To what extent do the dwellings, by their architectural style or landscape design, contribute to the historic character of the district? To what extent do they reflect later patterns of suburban development or community history and to what extent are these patterns important? If they occurred within the last 50 years, do they reflect trends or events of exceptional importance?

Determining Level of Significance:

Properties related to the same historic context are compared to identify those eligible for listing in the National Register and to determine the level-local, State, or national-at which the property is significant. Many residential districts will be eligible at the local level for their illustration of important aspects of community growth and development and their reflection of the broad trends that shaped suburbanization in the United States.

State level of importance is generally attributed to those that 1) established a precedent or influenced subsequent development within a metropolitan area or larger region within one or several adjoining states; 2) possess outstanding characteristics of community design, landscape architecture, or architecture within the context of design statewide; or 3) represent the work of one or more master planners, landscape architects, or architects, whose work in subdivision design or suburban housing gained professional recognition in that particular State.

National level of importance is attributed to suburbs whose plan, landscape design, or architectural character introduced important innovations that strongly influenced the design of residential suburbs nationwide; it also applies to examples possessing outstanding artistic distinction or representing pivotal examples of the work of master designers who received national or international acclaim for their contributions to the design of residential suburbs.


Assessing historic integrity requires professional judgment about whether a historic subdivision or neighborhood retains the spatial organization, physical components, aspects of design, and historic associations that it acquired during its period of significance. When assessing integrity, consider both the original design laid out in the general plan and the evolution of the plan throughout its history. Keep in mind that changes may have occurred as the plan was implemented and that these changes may also be significant. In instances where the period determined to be "historic" bears little or no relationship to the original design or construction, assessments of historic integrity should be based on 1) a knowledge of changes that occurred during the period of significance, and 2) a comparison of the neighborhood's current condition with its condition at the end of the significant period.

The period of significance becomes the benchmark for identifying which resources contribute to significant aspects of the neighborhood's history and determining whether subsequent changes contribute to or detract from its historic integrity. Alterations introduced after the period of significance generally detract from integrity. Their impact on the district's overall integrity, however, depends on their scale, number, and conformity with the historic design.

The final decision about integrity is based on the condition of the overall district and its ability to convey the significance for which it meets the National Register criteria. Weighing overall integrity requires a knowledge of both the physical evolution of the overall district and the condition of its component elements, including the design and materials of houses, the character of streets, and spatial qualities of community parks and facilities. Those making evaluations should take into consideration the extent to which landscape characteristics remain intact or have been altered. They should also be prepared to assess the cumulative effect that multiple changes and alterations may have on a neighborhood's historic integrity.

Applying Qualities of Integrity:

Historic integrity is the composite of seven qualities: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. Historic integrity requires that the various features that made up the neighborhood in the historic period be present today in the same configuration and similar condition. These qualities are applied to dwellings, as well as roadways, open spaces, garages, and other aspects of the historic design.

The presence of certain characteristics may be more important than others. Where the general plan of development has importance, integrity should be present in the original boundaries, circulation pattern of streets and walkways, and the division of housing lots. Where architectural design is of greatest significance, integrity will depend heavily on the design, materials, and workmanship of individual houses. Elements such as roadways, the arrangement of house lots, walls, plantings, walkways, park land, ponds, statuary, and fountains may likewise contribute strongly to importance in landscape architecture. Although historic plantings generally enhance historic integrity, it is important to recognize that as trees, shrubs, and other vegetation mature, they may sometimes erase intended vistas.

The amount of infill and other changes that a historic neighborhood can withstand before losing integrity will depend on its size and scale,the presence of significant features, and the suburban context in which it developed. The division of suburban lots beyond that specified in historic plans and deed restrictions threatens a historic neighborhood's integrity of design and should be viewed as a compatible pattern of development only if the subdivision occurred as a result of historically important events during the period of significance.

Seven Qualities of Integrity

The seven qualities of integrity called for in the National Register criteria can be applied to historic neighborhoods in special ways.

Location is the place where significant activities that shaped the neighborhood took place. This quality requires that to a large extent the boundaries that historically defined the suburb remain intact and correspond to those of the historic district being nominated. It also requires that the location of streets and the size and shape of the house lots have remained constant.

The location of historic suburbs was often determined by proximity to transportation corridors (streetcar lines, commuter railroads, parkways, or highways) and accessibility to places of employment. While the presence of historic transportation systems may add to a district's historic significance their loss or relocation does not detract in a major way from the integrity of the district.

Design is the composition of elements comprising the form, plan, and spatial organization of a historic neighborhood. This includes the arrangement of streets, division of blocks into house lots, arrangement of yards, and construction of houses and other buildings. Design may have resulted from conscious planning decisions set forth in the historic plat, project specifications, building contracts or deed restrictions, or it may be the result of the personal tastes and individual efforts of homeowners to shape their domestic environment.

Integrity of design can be affected by changes to the size of housing lots by recent subdivision or consolidation and alterations to individual dwellings in the form of additions, siding, window replacements, and other changes.

Small-scale additions, such as the construction of modest porches or garages, may not detract in a major way from the historic character of individual homes and the neighborhood. Large-scale additions, however, that double the elevation, add substantially to the mass of a historic house, or alter the spatial relationship between house and street generally threaten integrity of design.

Setting is the physical environment within and surrounding a historic suburb. Many historic neighborhoods were designed to provide a semi-rural environment within commuting distance of the city, joining nature and urban amenities. A semi-rural character was often created through the design of an open, parklike setting of landscaped streets, private yards, and sometimes public parks. Subdivisions were often surrounded by buffers of trees or bordered by undeveloped stream valleys to reinforce the separation of city and suburb.

Integrity of setting requires that a strong sense of historical setting be maintained within the boundaries of the nominated property. This relies to a large extent on the retention of built resources, street plantings, parks and open space. Elements of design greatly affect integrity of setting, and those consistent with the neighborhood's historic character or dating from the period of significance add to integrity. Small-scale elements such as individual plantings, gateposts, fences, swimming pools, playground equipment, and parking lots detract from the integrity of setting unless they date to the period of significance.

The setting outside many historic neighborhoods will have changed substantially since the period of significance. Evidence of early streetcar or railroad systems in large part has disappeared, and arterial corridors have been widened and adapted to serve modern automobile traffic. Historic train stations, stores, churches, schools and community buildings, however, may still be present, and may be nominated separately, or, if located within or on adjoining parcels, may be included within the boundaries of a historic residential suburb.

Materials include the construction materials of dwellings, garages, roadways, walkways, fences, curbing, and other structures, as well as vegetation planted as lawns, shrubs, trees, and gardens. The presence of particular building materials (e.g., stone, stucco, brick, or horizontal siding) may be important indicators of architectural style and methods of construction that give some neighborhoods a cohesive historic character.

Integrity of materials in an architecturally significant neighborhood requires that the majority of dwellings retains the key exterior materials that marked their identity during the historic period. The retention of original materials in individual dwellings may be less important in assessing the integrity of a neighborhood significant for its plan or landscape design. Original plant materials may enhance the integrity, but their loss does not necessarily destroy it. Vegetation similar in historic species, scale, type and visual effect will generally convey integrity of setting although integrity of materials may be lost.

Workmanship is evident in the ways materials have been fashioned for functional and decorative purposes to create houses, other buildings and structures, and a landscaped setting. This includes the treatment of materials in house design, the planting and maintenance of vegetation, as well as the construction methods of small-scale features such as curbs and walls.

Integrity of workmanship requires that architectural features in the landscape, such as portals, pavement, curbs, and walls, exhibit the artistry or craftsmanship of their builders and that the vegetation historically planted for decorative and aesthetic purposes be maintained in an appropriate fashion and replaced in kind when damaged or destroyed.

Feeling, although intangible, is evoked by the presence of physical characteristics that convey the sense of past time and place. Integrity of feeling results from the cumulative effect of setting, design, materials, and workmanship. A streetcar suburb retaining its original street pattern, lot sizes, and variety of housing types and materials will reflect patterns of suburban life reminiscent of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Association is the direct link between a historic suburb and the important events that shaped it. Continued residential use and community traditions, as well as the renewal of design covenants and deed restrictions, help maintain a neighborhood's integrity of association. Additions and alterations that introduce new land uses and erase historic elements of design threaten integrity.

Integrity of association requires that a historic neighborhood convey the period when it achieved importance and that, despite changing patterns of ownership, it continues to reflect the design principles and historic associations that shaped it during the historic period.

Classifying Contributing and Noncontributing Resources:

Buildings, structures, objects, and sites within a historic residential suburb are classified as "contributing" if they were present during the period of significance and possess historic integrity for that period. Those resources built or substantially altered after the period of significance are classified as "noncontributing" unless they have individual significance that qualifies them for National Register listing.

When a district's period of significance extends to a date within the past 50 years (see discussion of Criterion Consideration G on page 96 { above on this page}), resources less-than-50-years of age are classified as contributing if they were constructed or achieved significance within the defined period of significance, and by function, historic associations, and design, reflect important aspects of the neighborhood's history and physical evolution. For example, a Colonial Revival home built in 1954 would contribute to a historic residential suburb whose period of significance extends from 1926, the date of platting, to 1958 when the last house following the original plan was constructed, providing the house was built on one of the original lots and was in keeping with the historic design character set by early deed restrictions. Conversely in the same neighborhood, a 1960s Ranch house on an original lot and a 1990s house imitating the Colonial Revival style on a newly subdivided lot would both be classified as noncontributing because their location and design departed from the neighborhood's historic plan and their construction occurred outside the period of historic significance.

Nonhistoric Alterations and Additions

Alterations and additions since the period of significance affect whether an individual dwelling contributes to a district's significance. Designed to be small but expandable, the houses built from the early 1930s through the 1950s have typically been enlarged as home owners have added garages, porches, sun rooms, family rooms, and additional bedrooms. Houses with relatively modest additions that have little effect on the historic design of the original dwelling are classified as contributing. Those with additions that alter the original building's massing and scale, introduce major noncompatible design elements, and interrupt the spatial organization of the streetscape and neighborhood, however, are classified as noncontributing.

When evaluating the extent to which the addition changes the dwelling's individual character and the character of the streetscape of which it is a part, it is important to consider the size, scale, and design of the addition as well as its placement on the house lot. Information such as original setback requirements, historic design guidelines, and deed restrictions may also be useful in assessing the effect of additions on historic integrity. Whereas the construction of dormers on a Cape Cod house is unlikely to affect the dwelling's integrity in a serious way, the addition of a full, second story by "popping up" the roof substantially alters the character of both house and streetscape.

Replacement siding poses a serious threat to the historic character of residential neighborhoods. Not only have wooden clapboards and shingled surfaces given way to a wide array of commercially available siding in aluminum and vinyl, but the asbestos-based materials of many World War II era and postwar subdivisions, now considered unsightly and unhealthy, are being covered. Whether new siding is the result of maintenance, health, aesthetic or energy saving concerns, it can have a substantial, cumulative impact on the character of historic neighborhoods, especially those with architectural distinction.
However, classifying all homes with nonhistoric siding as noncontributing is often too strict a measure. A wise approach is to consider the effect siding has on the character of the individual dwelling, and the character of the neighborhood as a whole. When determining whether a house with nonhistoric siding contributes, consider the following:

• The extent to which the new material visually approximates the house's original material, design, and workmanship. Siding made of horizontal aluminum or vinyl boards would have less effect on the visual integrity of a house originally sheathed in clapboards or novelty siding than one built of brick or stone.
• The degree to which other distinctive features or architectural styling are obscured or lost by the application of the siding. The negative effect of siding is minimized if features such as window surrounds, purlins, wood detailing, barge boards, and brackets remain undamaged and visible.
• The extent to which new siding is accompanied by other alterations or additions that substantially or cumulatively affect the building's historic character.

In general, houses may be classified as contributing resources where new siding: 1) visually imitates the historic material; 2) has been thoughtfully applied without destroying and obscuring significant details; and 3) is not accompanied by other alterations that substantially or cumulatively affect the building's historic character.

Replacement siding is not a new phenomenon, and when evaluating the integrity of a historic neighborhood, one must consider the date when materials such as form stone, imitative brick sheathing, asbestos shingles, and other materials were added. Where these materials were installed during the period of significance, either by original home owners or later ones, they may reflect important aspects of the neighborhood's evolution.

In sum, determining a reasonable threshold for evaluating the integrity of component resources begins with considering the reasons why the district meets the National Register criteria, and extends to examining the resource not only for its individual characteristics, but also for its contribution to the historic character of the overall neighborhood.

Weighing Overall Integrity:

The final decision about integrity is based on the condition of the overall district and its ability to convey significance. The integrity of historic characteristics such as the overall spatial design, circulation network, and vegetation as well as the integrity of individual homes should be considered. Integrity depends to a substantial degree on the context of a metropolitan area's pattern of suburbanization and the condition of comparable neighborhoods in the area. The loss or relocation of a few features usually does not result in the loss of integrity of an entire historic neighborhood; however, the loss of entire streets or sections of the plan, cumulative alterations and additions to large numbers of dwellings, the subdivision of lots, and infill construction all threaten the integrity of the historic plan and the neighborhood's overall historic character.

The integrity of a historic residential subdivision relies in part on the cohesion of the historic plan and aspects of spatial organization, including street design, setbacks, and density. For this reason, integrity cannot be measured simply by the number of contributing and noncontributing resources. The retention of historic qualities of spatial organization, such as massing, scale, and setbacks, and the presence of historic plantings, circulation patterns, boundary demarcations, and other landscape features, should also be considered in evaluating the overall integrity of a historic neighborhood. Historic and contemporary views may be compared through old photographs, correspondence, news clippings, and promotional brochures to determine the extent to which the general design, character, and feeling of the historic neighborhood are intact and to measure the impact of alterations.


The selection of boundaries for historic residential suburbs generally follows the guidelines for historic districts found in National Register bulletins, How to Complete National Register of Historic Places Forms and Defining Boundaries for National Register Properties. Dwellings by noted architects, distinctive examples of a type or method of house construction, or designed landscapes, such as a park or parkway, may be nominated separately if they possess significance for which they individually meet the National Register criteria.

Defining the Historic Property:

Boundaries are typically defined by the extent of a historic subdivision or group of contiguous subdivisions, particularly where significance is based on design. Factors such as identity as a neighborhood community based on historic events, traditions, and other associations may be more relevant and should be considered when defining the boundaries of neighborhoods important in social history or ethnic heritage.

Deciding What To Include:

Boundaries should be clearly drawn on the basis of physical characteristics, historic ownership, and community identity as a neighborhood. In cases where a plan was only partially completed, the district boundaries should correspond to only the area where the plan was realized. Areas annexed or added to a historic plan may be included in the boundaries if such additions are shown to be historically important aspects of the overall suburb's evolution and therefore possess historical significance. If sections of a historic neighborhood have lost historic integrity, it is necessary to determine whether the sections lacking historic integrity can be excluded from the boundaries and whether the remaining unaltered area is substantial enough to convey significance.

For residential suburbs that developed in several stages, perhaps as a single farm was sold and subdivided in segments, boundaries are generally drawn to encompass the largest area that took form during the historic period and that possesses historic importance. The nomination should document the sequential stages of development, indicating the boundaries of each stage on a sketch map or period plan. Areas added within the past 50 years should be excluded from the district's boundaries unless they are shown to have exceptional importance. Peripheral areas lacking integrity should also be excluded from the boundaries, for example, in the case of a recently zoned commercial corridor on the edge of a historic subdivision where the relationship of individual dwellings to the original plan and to the historic neighborhood have been lost. However, "donut holes" are not acceptable.

Natural areas such as ponds or woodlands may be included in the boundaries when they have recreational or conservation value and were included in the historic plan. Preexisting resources such as farmsteads may be included in the boundaries when they are integral to the design of the subdivision, were clearly designated for preservation in the subdivision plan, or have individual importance that is documented in the nomination.

Selecting Appropriate Edges:

Lines drawn on historic plats, legal boundaries, rights-of-way, and changes in the nature of development or spatial organization are generally used to define the edges of a historic neighborhood. In general, the boundaries should be drawn along historic lot lines or boundary streets. An explanation of the relationship between the historic plan or subdivision and the proposed National Register boundaries should be given in the boundary justification.



Where the history of suburbanization for a metropolitan area is studied for the purpose of identifying a number of historic suburban neighborhoods, the National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form (NPS-10-900b) may be used to document the context, property types, registration requirements, and study methodology. Individual registration forms are then used to document each eligible neighborhood. Instructions for completing the form are found in the National Register bulletin, How to Complete the National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form, and videotape, The Multiple Property Approach.


Nominations are made on the National Register Registration Form (NPS-10-900) and processed according to the regulations set forth in 36 CFR Part 60. The form is intended as a summary of the information gathered during identification and a synthesis of findings concerning significance, integrity, and boundaries. General instructions for completing the form are found in the National Register bulletin, Guidelines for Completing the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. Guidelines for documenting nationally significant properties for NHL designation by the Secretary of the Interior are found in the National Register bulletin, How to Prepare National Historic Landmark Nominations. The following section provides supplementary instructions for each part of the form.


Historic residential suburbs are historic districts and may be named in various ways relating to their history and significance: historic name given in the original plat or plan, name used by the community during the period of significance, or name based on geographical location such as a town, village, or street. The name can include the term "historic district" or "historic residential suburb."


A historic subdivision is generally classified as a historic district because it is a collection of buildings, structures, and other features. The land covered by the overall plan is generally counted as a single site, and all buildings and structures substantial in size or scale therein are counted separately as contributing or noncontributing resources. The count should include bridges, freestanding garages, and outbuildings of sufficient size and scale to warrant being counted separately. Landscape features such as curbing, roadways, paths, tree plantings, ponds, and storm drains are generally considered integral features of the overall site and are not counted separately, unless they are substantial in size and scale or have special importance such as a central landscaped avenue or a designed park.


The narrative description documents the physical evolution and current condition of the historic neighborhood being registered. Figure 7 (Guideline for Surveying Historic Residential Suburbs) can be used as a checklist for describing residential districts. In summary, the description documents:

1) The historical relationship of the suburb or neighborhood to the growth and development of the local community or metropolitan area, including the location of major transportation corridors; the provision for public utilities, such as power and water mains; the location of civic centers, business districts, schools, and parks and parkways; and local planning measures, such as subdivision regulations and zoning ordinances.

2) Neighborhood's relationship to the area's natural topography and physiography, including natural features comprising and surrounding the district, such as streams, canyons, rivers, escarpments, mountains, floodplain, and geological features.

3) The subdivision plan and its component features, including the circulation system, entrance features, arrangement of blocks and house lots, provision of sidewalks and pedestrian paths, landscape plantings, and community facilities such as parks, playgrounds, and recreational centers. Developer's role and relationship to architects, landscape architects, and home builders involved in the neighborhood's design and development. Principles of landscape design characterized by the overall plan or by specialized areas within the plan. Improvements provided by the developer, including water and septic systems, roads, and parks. Terms of deed restrictions that provided a form of "private control" over aspects such as the cost of construction, required setbacks, architectural style, and future alterations. The presence of street plantings, lampposts, curbs and gutters, entrance portals or signs, memorials, sculpture, landscape elements, principal vegetation, and important natural features.

4) Principal house types, architectural styles, and methods of construction, including predominant characteristics, such as scale, proportions, materials, color, decoration, workmanship, and quality of design. Significant groupings of dwellings, as well as distinctive individual examples. Architectural types, styles, and methods of construction evident in houses, garages, sheds, and community buildings. Housing may be classified by type based on housing models, architectural style or period, or other descriptive means. Principal architects and home builders, and representative examples of their work should be identified.

5) Design and function of schools, churches, commercial centers, and transportation facilities within the boundaries of the historic neighborhood.

6) Principles of landscape design and historic landscape features evident in yard design, such as open lawns, border gardens, specimen trees, fences and walls, hedges, shrubbery, and foundation plantings. Identity of landscape architects involved in the design and development of the neighborhood, noting any landscape features that represent their work.

7) Appearance of the district during the period when it achieved historical significance and any subsequent changes or modifications. This includes alterations and additions to the plan or to the dwellings and other buildings, noting the types of changes and the degree to which alterations affect the integrity of individual resources. Identify threats to the integrity of the overall plan, such as infill, consolidation and redevelopment of lots, the clearing of previously built-upon lots (commonly called "scraping"), widening of interior roads, widening of circumferential roads, loss of street trees, construction of fences, and traffic calming measures (e.g. traffic circles). Patterns of alterations that markedly alter the historic appearance of the housing (e.g. siding; window replacements; the raising of roofs to add stories, commonly called "pop ups"; and porch enclosures). Any restoration or rehabilitation activities.

8) Factors considered in classifying contributing and noncontributing resources. Because historic neighborhoods typically embody the tastes, economic conditions, and lifestyles of several generations of American home owners, preservationists need to carefully consider the nature of the alterations, the period in which they occurred, and the effect they have on the ability of the neighborhood to reflect important historic associations or aspects of design.

9) A list of contributing and non-contributing resources keyed to a sketch map for the entire district. This list should provide the address, date of construction, and condition for all principal buildings, as well as streets, avenues, parks, playgrounds, and recreational areas that are part of the historic neighborhood. Because many residential districts will have a large number of component resources, which often share common aspects of size, plan, and style, it may be useful to develop a typology of housing types that can be used in listing contributing and non-contributing resources and locating examples on sketch maps. Many computer programs are particularly helpful in formulating such a list.

Statement of Significance:

The statement of significance explains the ways in which the historic district relates to the theme of suburbanization locally and reflects the national trends presented in this bulletin and sets forth the reasons the district is significant within this context. The statement addresses the National Register criteria, and if applicable, criteria considerations. The greater the importance of certain features-such as the overall plan and circulation network-the more detailed the explanation of their role should be. The reasons for selecting the period of significance and the areas of significance in which the district meets the National Register criteria must be justified.

Unless provided on a related multiple property form, a statement of historic context should identify one or more themes to which the property relates through its historic uses, activities, associations, and physical characteristics. The discussion of historic context should:

1) Explain the role of the property in relationship to broad historic trends, drawing on specific facts about the district and its community.

2) Briefly describe the history of the community where the neighborhood is located and explain the various stages in the community's suburbanization, the factors leading to the development of suburban neighborhoods, and the characteristics of historic subdivisions locally or regionally. Explain how local trends and examples relate to the national context for suburbanization.

3) Explain or discuss the importance of the suburban neighborhood in each area of significance by showing that it is a unique, important or outstanding representative when compared to other neighborhoods of the same period or type or with similar historical associations.

4) Explain how housing types, architectural style, landscape design, materials and methods of construction reflect important trends in the design and technology of the American house and yard. Note sources of plans (e.g., factory-made houses, pattern books, mail order plans, Small House Architect's Bureau, FHA-recommended designs, or professional firm).

5) Establish the importance of the developer, principal home builders, architects, and landscape architects in the history of the local community or metropolitan region.

For districts significant under Criterion A, provide an explanation of how the events, or pattern of events, represented by the district made an important contribution to the history of the community, State, or Nation. For districts significant under Criterion B, explain how the person with whom the property is associated is important in the history of the community, State, or Nation. For districts significant under Criterion C, the statement of context may be developed in one or more of the following ways:
1) as a type, period, style, or method of construction;
2) as the work of a master;
3) possessing high artistic values; and
4) representing a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.

The documentation of neighborhoods that achieved significance within the past 50 years requires a justification of exceptional importance. An explanation of the dates when the subdivision was laid out and the housing constructed should be given in the nomination to support the period of significance and to indicate whether or not a justification of exceptional significance is needed. As a general rule, a majority of resources must be at least 50 years of age, before the district as a whole can be considered to meet the 50-year guideline. The nomination of a suburban neighborhood whose design was begun and substantially completed more than 50 years ago, although some resources within the district were built within the last 50 years, does not require a justification of exceptional importance.

Maps and Photographs:

The general requirements for maps and photographs are given in the National Register bulletin, How to Complete the National Register Registration Form. Maps include a U.S.G.S. quadrant map identifying the location and coordinates of the historic district and a detailed sketch map indicating boundaries and labeling resources as contributing or noncontributing. In addition, the sketch map should identify the names of streets and community facilities, such as schools, community buildings, shopping centers, parks, and playgrounds. The map should include street addresses or be cross-referenced by resource number or name to the list of contributing or noncontributing resources in the Description (Section 7). The number and vantage point of each photographic view should be indicated as well as the relationship of the district to surrounding streets or nearby transportation facilities.

Photographs should illustrate the character of principal streetscapes, representative dwelling types, and significant aspects of landscape design. Community facilities, such as schools and parks, and representative examples of noncontributing resources should be depicted.

If possible, supplement the required documentation with copies of historic plats, plans, and photographs. Period plans that show the extent to which housing and landscape design were completed at various intervals of time are also useful for graphically depicting the neighborhood's physical evolution and can supplement the narratives in Sections 7 and 8.



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