Everything you need to know about Victorian Townhouses

Victorian Townhouses are the architectural artifacts of American history—however, as with any historic home, there are pros and cons to owning one.
Written by Kathryn Mae Kurlychek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Victorian Townhouses are recognizable for their colorful façades, ornate moldings, and distinct historic auras. If you have a passion for old abodes and architecture, a Victorian Townhouse could be the home for you. 
Whether you appreciate their bright and unusual colors, unique details, or historic charm, there’s a lot to love about Victorian-style homes. They are especially enticing for homeowners who want their house to reflect their quirky personalities—if they’re okay with dealing with some house quirks as well. 
That’s where
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. From the varying Victorian styles to the delights and complications of owning a Victorian build, we’ve put together this guide to everything you need to know about Victorian Townhouses. 
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What is a Victorian Townhouse?

As with all architecture, Victorian townhomes are representative of a particular period and reflect the economic and social values and experiences of people at that time. The Victorian architectural style became popular in the 19th century under Queen Victoria’s rule of Great Britain and the British-American colonies. 
This era also saw unprecedented economic growth among members of the middle class, who poured their newfound capital into constructing elaborate homes as a display of rising status. Many affluent families at the time lived in detached/semi-detached townhouses that showcased opulence and spoke to the rising wealth of the middle class. 

The different styles of Victorian Townhouses

When we picture quintessential Victorian townhouses, we may envision wide bay windows, high arched doorways, and colorful façades—but these generalized features are not shared by every Victorian townhome. 
“Victorian” is more of an architectural umbrella term under which a range of home styles exist. Below, we’ll summarize each one—and maybe even help you discover your favorite style! 

Gothic Revival 

Recognizable for their pointed roofs, ornate trim, and cathedral-like windows, Gothic Revival houses were the first of many Victorian-style homes introduced to the American landscape. These homes are aptly named to reflect their classic Gothic roots and many draw inspiration from the cathedrals and castles of medieval times. 
Gothic Revival-style homes rose in popularity in tandem with the 19th-century Romantic movement, which highlighted appreciation of culture, theatre, and the arts. 

Queen Anne

The classic Victorian home, Queen Anne-styled houses are colorful and dreamy, with high-peaked roofs, elegant turrets and towers, and wide bay windows. The exteriors of Queen Anne houses are often painted in bright and fantastic colors—sometimes even three or more, as with
San Francisco
’s famous Painted Ladies—and speak to the vibrancy and grandeur of its historic moment. 
So popular was this style that Queen Anne homes continued to be built well past the end of  Victoria’s reign. 


Distinct from its sister styles is the Italiante, a Victorian-era home inspired by the classic Italian villa. While Italianate homes are flat-roofed and lack medieval charm, they are no less grand or impressive: you can recognize this style of home by its rectangular shape, large bay windows, carved eaves, and elaborate trim

Second Empire 

Somewhat less popular, but no less distinguishable for its Victorian influences is the Second Empire, a style of home characterized by its colorfully-tiled mansard roofs and brick façades
Whereas the Italianate pulled from Italian architecture, Second Empire homes were inspired by the French and were often embellished by American architects to include elements of medieval flair like iron crests and crenulations, corner quoins, and belt courses.

Stick Style

The Stick Style home is most notable for the small planks of wood laid vertically, horizontally, or diagonally across the exterior walls—although many also boast elaborate second-story porches. The Stick Style draws on the architectural styles of both Gothic Revival and Queen Anne homes and tends to also feature large windows and ornate trim. 

Folk Victorian

As Victorian-style homes gripped the fancies of a growing middle-class, members of the working class began to construct homes that mirrored the key elements of these larger and more elaborate builds. 
The result was the Folk Victorian, a modest sister to the elaborate homes explored above. Folk Victorians employed pre-fabricated embellishments to achieve their Victorian charm, and were generally less elaborate—all the same, they remain today a beautiful and distinct relic of the 19th-century architectural moment. 

How much do Victorian Townhouses cost?

Generally speaking, Victorian-style Townhouses can range in price from $250,000 to $600,000—but fully-restored properties can sell for upwards of $1 million. The cost of a Victorian Townhome depends on market-related factors like location, condition, and property size (to name a few) and as such tends to vary place-to-place.
Homeowners interested in investing in a Victorian Townhouse should also be aware of the costs to maintain one. Historic homes appeal in natural charm and character, but may also come with a host of problems as a result of their age. 
Many owners of Victorian-style homes share complaints of draftiness, dampness, and poor lighting and ventilation—but more elaborate problems with a home’s foundation or subsystems could result in hefty maintenance bills.  

Pros and Cons of Victorian Townhouses

Now that we’ve covered the details of Victorian Townhouses, it’s helpful to review the basics. 

Pros of Victorian Townhouses

  • Character and charm: Victorian homes are nothing if not unique! Each one comes packed with its individual charm, and they all reflect the romantic impulses that characterized the historical era from which they hail. 
  • Many architectural styles: The variety of home styles that fall beneath the “Victorian” umbrella make the options virtually endless—no matter what your preference is, there’s sure to be a Victorian home out there that speaks to your tastes. 

Cons of Victorian Townhouses 

  • Maintenance costs/old house problems: As previously mentioned, maintaining a Victorian home can get expensive—and that’s on top of paying top-dollar for the property itself. With some builds nearing two centuries old, experiencing maintenance problems in Victorian homes is more of a matter of “when,” not “if.” 
  • Not conducive for every lifestyle: On top of costly maintenance, Victorian homes tend to share a variety of features that may not appeal to everyone, such as closed floor plans, old-timey parlors, and lots of weird angles. While these elements add to the historic value of the home, for some, they may not make the ideal living environment.

How to find affordable home insurance 

Whether you’re searching for a historic build packed with charm or something more modern,
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Victorian houses gained prominence between 1860-1901, under Queen Victoria’s reign—making most builds between 100-180 years old.
While Victorian homes tend to offer unexpectedly spacious living in otherwise densely populated areas (like cities), they may also bestow costly problems on homeowners as a result of their old age.
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