Spotlight on: Richardson Romanesque Architecture

Aside from being a delightful tongue-twister, the Richardson Romanesque architectural style is an offshoot of the Romanesque revival style. Romanesque style dates back to medieval Europe, and while it is typically associated with Italian tradition, its influences span from Italy through Spain and even southern France.

The Richardson Romanesque style is attributable to Henry Hobson Richardson. He is the architect behind the famous Trinity Church in Boston, which was made in the style that bears his name.

One of the signature architectural elements of the style is a semi-circular arch that can often be seen above doors and windows. Buildings in this tradition also feature heavy stone construction and often include contrasting colors.

Richardson Romanesque style most popular between 1870 and 1895, which was right around the time that an influx of money from booming industry enabled some local titans to build their statement homes. The James J. Hill house, built in 1891 is a famous local example of the Richardson Romanesque style applied to a private residence.

The style was more frequently used for churches and larger buildings, perhaps due to the “grandness” inherent in the design elements. The Dacotah Building, located on Selby Avenue in Cathedral Hill, is a classic example of the style as it applies to a commercial building. The Dacotah Building was constructed in 1879 and has been painstakingly preserved, retaining much of its original architectural integrity. It currently houses a restaurant on the main floor (W.A. Frost) and office space on the upper floors.

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