Dutch Colonial Revival “Twins,” Mt. Sterling, Kentucky

Have you ever noticed two historic houses side-by-side and thought they looked identical? “Twin” dwellings are common in early 20th century residential development in many Kentucky towns – often an example of small scale speculative development. Pattern books and catalogs from titans of the “mail-order home” business like Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward (among many others) made plans and illustrations available across the country. Many local builders or lumber companies adapted these plans and designs to suit the lot or the prospective new owner.

Dutch Colonial Revival “twins,” Mt. Sterling, Kentucky.

I first spotted these charming houses on a “walk-about” with my youngest nephew two summers ago (it’s never too early to try and influence the young on the marvels of historic architecture and the importance of historic preservation!). Although there are slight differences between the two, from the exterior, they do look like twins!

A section of the 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the houses.

The two-story dwellings incorporate a gambrel roof – a necessary characteristic of the Dutch Colonial Revival style – with a brick first floor, and frame on the upper. Both houses were built between 1901-1908, replacing an earlier dwelling and subdividing its lot.

Each house has these wonderful stone posts on rusticated stone piers, and handsome stone lintels above the windows and door on the facade.

Fishscale shingles contrast with the weatherboards on the second story, while front gable dormers provide light to the upper level on the side elevations.

Unfortunately, I don’t know who built these houses, nor the origins of the design and plan. There were hundreds of catalogs – and hundreds of house designs – issued in the decades before World War II. And it would be very rare to find a mail-order or kit house today in its original condition.

A Dutch Colonial Revival design from Sears, Roebuck and Company.

The house design in the above illustration appeared in Sears catalogs in 1912, 1913, 1916-1918. It was described as suitable for 25-foot lots, with the front door opening into a “large living room, which has an attractive open stairway.”

Although there are many differences between this design and the “twins,” it is easy to see how styles like the Dutch Colonial Revival spread across the United States – and in countless communities, a design like this was tweaked, modified, and changed, becoming its own wonderful example of an early 20th century dwelling.

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  1. Billie Garcia says:

    My husband & I live very close to these two houses as we live on Virginia Ct. #11. One of my former neighbors and a dear friend who lived on our street told me the name of our house, but today I cannot remember it. I have been searching again after reading your article, but have not seen the name. I have seen it in the past via internet searching. It seems to me that it started with an S or maybe a P, but S stands our more in my mind. None of the names I have seen today ring a bell . Might you know what the name is ? Thank you.

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