History Of Customized Homes In America

The history of the custom home runs deep in American architecture. Just how deep? Let’s find out!

Pattern Books

What is a “pattern book”? That’s a great question! In the field of architecture, a pattern book is a collection of design that allowed builders and clients to have a basis for what they want before making subtle changes here and there to make the house customized for the family living in it. Sound familiar? It should! Urban LUX is one of the best customized home builders in Hill Country Texas. Our model works similarly, where clients can choose a floor plan that matches their needs best before adding their own customizations.


The first architect to create a pattern book was actually Vitruvius in Ancient Rome! He is credited as the father of standardized architecture. He is known for not only planning but also constructing various military bases and towns across the Roman Empire, as well as creating a coding system for different architectural elements.

American Architecture

Architectural style in America from the 1600s to the present, can be categorized into roughly seven families of design — each of the families have their own categories with specific, definitive elements.

The Colonial Family (1600 – 1850)
1620 – 1740Postmedieval English
1600 – 1850Spanish Colonial
1625 – 1840 Dutch Colonial
1700 – 1830French Colonial
1700 – 1850Georgian
1780 – 1840Federal
The Folk/Vernacular Family (1620 – Present)
1620 – 1940Pre-Railroad
1700 – 1930National
1930 – PresentManufactured
The Romantic Family (1825 – 1885)
1825 – 1860Greek Revival
1840 – 1880Gothic Revival
1840 – 1885Italiante
The Victorian Family (1855 – 1910)
1855 – 1885Second Empire
1860 – 1890Stick
1880 – 1910Queen Anne
The Eclectic Family (1880 – Present)
1880 – 1980Colonial Revival
1890 – 1935Italian Renaissance Revival
1890 – 1920Mission
1890 – 1940Tudor
1895 – 1955Neoclassical
1910 – PresentPueblo Revival
1915 – 1940Spanish Revival
1915 – 1945French Eclectic
1925 – 1955Monterey
The Modern Family (1900 – Present)
1900 – 1920Prairie
1905 – 1930Craftsman
1920 – 1940Art Moderne
1935 – 1950Minimal Traditional
1935 – 1975Ranch
1945 – 1990Contemporary
1950 – 1975A-frame
1950 – PresentOrganic
1965 – 1990Shed
1965 – PresentPostmodern
1980 – PresentDeconstructivist
1990 – Present21st Century
The Neo-Eclectic Family (1935 – Present)
1935 – 1985Styled Ranch
1940 – 1985Mansard
1985 – PresentNew Traditional
1990 – PresentMcMansion

Starting in the 1800’s, pattern books became crucial to American architecture. Almost like an almanac of building designs, there were also advertisements for companies that offered paint, furniture, and other important things to furnish and decorate the property of the new homeowners.

Big names to know that made history with the pattern books they created and published were Asher Benjamin, Alexander Jackson Davis, and Andrew Jackson Downing. In fact, according to this article, “ In 1842, Downing and Davis collaborated on Victorian Cottage Residences, which addressed the importance of color, irregularity and variety in residential design.”

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre House

Yes, you read that right. This beautiful Victorian house was the set and filming location for the original 1973 cult classic, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When they found the house for the film, it was in dilapidated condition in La Frontera, Texas. That’s why today you may not recognize the house in all her restored glory in Kingsland, Texas. Yes! In a surprising turn of events during 1998, the original and broken down “Chainsaw House” was sliced into six sections, moved, and restored by master carpenter Anthony Mayfield. Now there is a delicious restaurant named Grand Central Cafe that doesn’t hide it’s history, with a popular drink named, “Leatherface lemonade.”

Before the renovation, the house is estimated to have been built around 1908 and is credited for being a pattern book house — ordered out of a catalog and constructed from materials sent from a local lumber company. How do we know? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre House has a twin! Another home that moved frequently (especially considering its size and inanimate state), the Frisk house was built across the street from the Chainsaw House before being moved to another location in the same town, La Frontera. It also deteriorated to the same condition but suffered from dense overgrowth of trees and went unnoticed until 2006. That’s when Don Martin and Bill Smalling moved the house to Georgetown, Texas where it is currently being used as an office.

Urban LUX Custom Builders

Are you surprised? Who knew there was such a rich history of customized houses in America! Urban LUX is proud to carry on the tradition with our high quality, comfortable, customized homes in Hill Country Texas. Contact us today to start building the home of your dreams.

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