A gothic style house is one made in a style of architecture that reached its peak in medieval times. This style experienced a revival in the 18th century. The architecture is characterized by leaded glass, steep gables, gingerbread trim, and arches that come to a point at the top instead of arcing smoothly.
Although the gothic style of architecture has been around since the 12th century, it mostly existed in cathedrals, castles, palaces, and universities. Houses of this style did not become popular until the 1740s. It is largely believed that the English writer Sir Horace Walpole made the style popular again, and created the Gothic Revival, when he reconstructed his country home in Twickenham, England, in the old gothic style. By the 1770s, this look had become so sought-after that architects were designing in the genre again. Features that can be found in a gothic style house include leaded glass windows with decorative tracery — the stone that supports the glass; buttresses that mimicked those on the old castles; a one-story veranda; and grouped chimneys. Also, windows typically did not have exterior shutters in order to showcase the ornate designs of the glass.
By the time the gothic style house trend reached the United States, the features had been toned down and adjusted to take people's budgets into consideration. Most could not afford the complicated stonework and sculpted windows that characterized the more ornate gothic style of Europe. Instead of the traditional stone materials, gothic style houses in the United States were often made with brick. The vaulted ceilings and pointed arches of the grand churches and universities in England were merely suggested in these by pointed windows and steep gables. The ornate ornamentation was also pared down to gingerbread trim. Homes in this style are usually referred to as Victorian style houses.
A well-known gothic style house was made famous by the Grant Wood painting American Gothic. It exhibits the stripped-down style, called carpenter gothic, that became popular in American homes of the era. It is characterized by windows that come to a point at the top of the arc, and a roof with a steep pitch. It is also made of wood, which was another way the architecture was adapted to make a gothic style house more affordable for the average homeowner. The actual home is located in Eldon, Iowa.