Top 10 Victorian Architecture & Pattern Books

Find Your Victorian Home in these Plan Books

Architectural plan books, pattern books, and catalogs became popular during the Victorian age when industrialization made it possible to mass produce building parts. Pre-cut architectural details were shuttled across the country. Some builders followed the published plans faithfully. Some mixed ideas borrowed from several plans and added special flourishes of their own.

Several publishers have reprinted historic pattern books with original drawings. While historic house plans don't contain the detailed specifications required by modern builders, they are a valuable resource for anyone who wants to recreate Victorian styles.

Palliser Palliser & Co. was a leading publisher of house plans during the Victorian era. Reprinted from their 1878 catalog, American Victorian Cottage Homes contains floor plans, elevation drawings, and practical designs for classic Victorian cottages of the 1800s.
Subtitled, Floor Plans and Line Illustrations for 118 Homes from Shoppell's Catalogs. One of our readers comments: "I found this book in a middle school art class and it has been my Victorian Architecture guidebook ever since. It inspired my lifelong obsession with architecture and blueprints and Victorians, and leads my design decisions now that my husband and I are remodeling."
Originally published in 1897, this house plan catalog has drawings, floor plans, and descriptions of 40 Victorian houses and cottages. Contains dimensions, exterior materials, interior finish, and 120 illustrations.
This reprint of the classic 1911 manual has 183 authentic, measured and scaled drawings for a wide range of architectural features. William A. Radford, author. John Mojonnier, Designer.
From George E. Woodward, a noted American planbook architect of the Victorian era, reproduction plans and elevation drawings.
Seventy-five plates are reproduced from the 1886-1894 Scientific American Architects and Builders Edition. The book is colorful and non-technical, with plenty of floor plans and detailed drawings. Blanche Cirker, Editor.
Reprint of Woodward's 1869 plan book with specifications for 20 structures, ranging from humble cottages to an ornate brick villa. More than 580 illustrations. By George E. Woodward and Edward G. Thompson.
Subtitled "Rediscovered Plans for 19th Century Farmhouses, Cottages, Landscapes, Barns, Carriage Houses & Outbuildings." Author Donald J. Berg has compiled more than a hundred historic etchings and building plans for this 160-page paperback. Also find information about planbook architects and 19th century architectural trends.

"Allow the lady of the house to have considerable say-so in the floor arrangement especially," says architect Herbert C. Chivers. "She lives in the house day and night. A poorly-planned house is usually more expensive than a modern practical plan." This Dover Publication is a reprint of the 1905 Artistic Homes by St. Louis architect Herbert C. Chivers (1869–1946). Read the original for free, but purchase the paperback for posterity!

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Mrs. Howard's Farmhouse Design

19th century home designed by a farm wife
1847 Farmhouse Designed by Matilda W. Howard. Image from the Transactions of the New-York State Agricultural Society, Vol. VII, 1847

Who drew the plans for these charming Victorian homes? Most were drawn by successful designers and builders of the day. However, many were created by homeowners with a flare for design or, at least, the cleverness to adapt published plans to meet their own wishes and needs. Here's a country cottage designed by a farm wife. The plans aren't for sale, but you view them here for an interesting peek into the past.