Early Twentieth Century Styles (22.214.171.124.5)
American Foursquare (126.96.36.199.5.4)
The American Foursquare house was the most popular vernacular form of the Prairie Style, which was developed by the so-called Chicago School of architects of which Frank Lloyd Wright was the most influential. Its hallmark is a boxy two-story square, double-pile form covered by a low hip roof with deep overhanging eaves; the design emphasis is on the horizontal plane. The style, which came into local popularity during the prosperous 1910s and 1920s, is particularly numerous along West Church, West Main, and North Road streets. The Isaac P. Perry House (901 Maple Street, 1924) is a notable example of the style in its most basic form, with a broad two-bay porch carried by tapered pillars on brick pedestals, a gable dormer, and deep eaves accentuated by exposed rafter ends. All local examples are of frame construction and most are covered with weatherboards. Wood shingles are sometimes used on the upper story to emphasize the horizontal dimension, as illustrated by the city's finest example, the Fearing-Gaither House (806 West Church Street, ca. 1912), and the A. B. Houtz House (114 East Colonial Avenue, 1914-1923); the design of the latter is attributed to New Bern architect Herbert W. Simpson.
Elizabeth City's American Foursquare houses often incorporate elements of the concurrently popular Colonial Revival and Craftsman Bungalow styles. These usually include tapered porch pillars on brick pedestals, exposed rafter ends, and one-over-one sash windows. An example is the Luther D. Overton House (608 South Road Street, ca. 1920), which has Colonial Revival boxed cornices and porch pillars. Several American Foursquare houses have brick porch pillars inset with stucco panels. Often the porch is further enlivened by a broad arch composed of square-in-section matchstick members spanning the width of the porch between large masonry pillars. Excellent examples are seen on the nearly identical Pinner-Balley House (1002 West Main Street, ca. 1914) and the George Pritchard House (907 West Church Street, 1925); on each the sturdiness of the porch is conveyed with brick balusters supporting a cast concrete hand rail. Sometimes similar but solid spandrels were used as exhibited by the Frank Kipp Kramer House (1016 West Main Street, 1919) and the Munden-Overman House (715 North Road Street, I922). The two similar houses were erected by Joseph Perry Kramer, one of Elizabeth City's leading builders during the early twentieth century; he was the youngest son of lumberman D. S. Kramer and the uncle of Frank Kipp Kramer.