Political forces were also at work changing accepted architectural styles for institutional buildings. The British Education Act of 1874 took away the stranglehold that church schools had on education, and opened up universal education to all.
That significant political change called for a new architectural style. Gothic – long associated with churches – was no longer appropriate for schools. Queen Anne – a style not associated with any religion – was the preferred choice for schools now managed by the newly-established School Boards. Red-brick schools with white sash windows symbolically rose above crowded terrace house neighbourhoods in London and other cities, as beacons of universal education.
That political influence for schools continued in Canada through the late 1800’s and into the twentieth century. Queen Anne was the preferred style for new school buildings in many cities, as red-brick landmark buildings were constructed for the newly-established Board system of education in North America.
Queen Anne in North America
When the Queen Anne style flew across the Atlantic, it was embraced by stylish enthusiasts in both Canada and the United States. The style gave rise to a different sort of dwelling than those seen in England, but Queen Anne homes are now instantly recognizable as being the epitome of “Victorian” architecture.
The Queen Anne style shone brightest in single family homes. There, the true individuality of the style was given free reign, both inside and out. Exuberant exteriors used every available architectural device to make a statement of richness, asymmetry and design. An undecorated surface was apparently frowned on by the architects of the day.
Typical features of Queen Anne included towers or semi-towers, and extensive and elaborate woodwork – often using typical motifs such as fan shapes or ‘sunbursts’ – resulting in richly decorated surfaces, using shingles, siding, turned work and more.