The enduring charm of the American foursquare house

Perhaps you haven't heard of a foursquare house. Maybe the first thing that came to mind when you heard “foursquare” was the game you used to play as a school kid. (You know, the game that literally consists of four squares.) Well, in much the same way, foursquare homes are distinguished by the fact that they have four square rooms on each of their two main levels, and it all fits inside a square building.

Architecturally speaking, the blueprint for these houses looks a lot like the one used in the game foursquare.

Now, you might be thinking this sounds rather dull. But in its simplicity, the foursquare house boasts some real iconic beauty and style associated with the early part of the 20th century. The American foursquare house is also known for its large porch with full-length stairs, large outdoor columns, and if it's been properly maintained, its interior usually features some superb wood work in the ceiling beams, banisters, doorways and more.

While foursquare houses were built across the nation, a great many were built right here in Cedar Rapids (as you may have noticed). Here they have often been called the Prairie Box, and if you’re looking for a historic-style house, you can’t get more iconic than one of these.

Restoration and upgrades

Because many of the Prairie Boxes on the market may be near 100 years old, it’s likely they’ll need some work. The good news, however, is that they have great bones and solid foundations.

In addition to the repairs you might normally expect to make on an old house, here are a few of the most common upgrades people tend to make on these old fixer-uppers.

  • Modern insulation – Because it’s a larger house, you’ll want to do everything in your power to keep the heat from seeping out. This might mean replacing the windows and adding insulation between the walls and the attic.
  • Restore woodwork – As previously mentioned, wood is part of the charm with these houses. However, you may have quite a bit of woodwork to replace or restore, from the columns on the porch to the interior wainscoting and the brackets under the roof. This can be a labor of love, and sometimes more labor than love.
  • Take out the toxins – You may have to deal with lead pipes, lead paint or even asbestos.

If you have your heart set on one of these classic houses, talk to a Coldwell Banker Hedges Realtor® today for expert advice so you can track down the perfect American foursquare.

Blog Archives