What You Need to Know About Architecture and Home Styles in Boston

Ricardo Rodriguez & Associates|April 10, 2023
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Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the oldest cities in the United States, established in the early 1600s. History buffs can follow the Freedom Trail’s bricked pathway or head to one of the sites dating back to the American Revolution to soak in the history.

If you are planning to purchase a house for sale in Boston, Massachusetts, you will also find a number of neighborhoods with high walkability ratings. Many luxury homes in the area are close to shops, restaurants, nightlife, and cultural events. Outdoor enthusiasts will be thrilled with the proximity to Boston Harbor and the beauty of Boston Common. With all of these amenities at your fingertips, your next step will be to narrow down the type of architecture and home style that most appeals to you. Read on to find out more.

City architecture

The rich history of Boston has created a city with a striking mix of classic, traditional, and modern architecture. For history buffs, Boston is widely known as the origin of the Federal Style. The Massachusetts State House is a classic example of Federal architecture, known for its smooth facades and large, symmetrical windows. Compare this to the sleek, stylized art deco influences on the Berkeley Building, also known as the Old John Hancock Building. Modernists may appreciate The Hancock, the all-glass skyscraper at 200 Clarendon Street. Add in the influence of Victorian, Greek, Georgian, Colonial, and Brutalist architectural styles to round out this diverse landscape.

Home styles

The unique combination of architectural styles also applies to the houses for sale in Boston, Massachusetts. Buyers have an immense array to choose from, depending on their lifestyle and personal preferences. Here are a few of the options.


The Federal style not only applies to formal and business buildings but to individual homes too. This style was popular until the early 1800s, lending its influence to several iconic Boston neighborhoods. Head to Beacon Hill if you are hoping to purchase a Federal style house. Expect symmetrical two-story homes, often with red brick exteriors and classical columns. Elaborate, formal doors are centered with a small porch surrounding the entrance. Inside many Federal homes, you will also find a rounded or oval room and a domed ceiling.


If you prefer a home with more character, you may want to consider a Victorian. These homes are known for their asymmetrical features, including towers, turrets, balconies, and wrap-around porches. Victorian homes pride themselves on the details, including ornamental woodwork and multiple house colors to show off their distinctive lines. Although the Queen Anne Victorian style was one of the most popular at the turn of the century, it now may be harder to find within the Boston metropolitan area.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod architecture arose in response to the wintry winds of its namesake in the late 17th century. They are typically one to two stories, with the second story often occupying only the back half of the home. These homes are characterized by their gabled roofs and symmetrical styling. A central chimney often pushes through roof shingles specific to the Cape Cod style. These homes typically have clapboard, wood shingle, or brick exteriors and can be found throughout Boston.


Check out Tudor architecture if you like a striking mix of facades. These homes are large and spacious, typically with two stories. Tudors often display a dark brick or stone on the first story, then change to stucco with wood accents on the second. Detailed wood designs also appear inside the home too. Roofs are gabled and sharply angled. Tudors often have tall chimneys and multi-paned windows too. If you are hoping to purchase a Tudor home, you are in luck, as they are prevalent in the Boston area.


The brownstone townhome may be one of the most recognizable styles of the different houses for sale in Boston, Massachusetts. Also known as row homes, brownstones have identical red brick facades. They are built side by side with shared walls in long rows. They rise three to four stories, with flat roofs offset by the occasional rooftop garden or deck. Some of the area’s most coveted brownstones are in the highly desirable Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. As many of these buildings date back hundreds of years, some are even included in the National Historic Registry.


The Colonial home style is also popular in the Boston area. These homes run large, typically two to three stories, with at least one chimney. While similar to the boxy rectangular style of the Federal home, the Colonial differs with its elaborate entrance. Expect to pass through a portico with stately columns and long windows flanking either side. When you enter a Colonial home, you will first notice the grand staircase rising up from the foyer. Depending on your preferences, you may also be drawn to its more strict room design. Colonials do not have open-floor plans, so expect numerous doorways closing off the different rooms.


Those who prefer mid-century modern and contemporary architecture will also find numerous options throughout the Boston area. Although modern styles demonstrate the most variety, you can typically expect to find a more streamlined façade. These homes showcase bold angles, floor-to-ceiling windows, and striking details. Contemporary homes often have increased square footage, although this can range from sprawling ranch homes to asymmetrical split-level designs.

Which home style speaks to you?

Now you know more about the different architectural and home styles available in the Boston area. Are you drawn to the dramatic lines of a mid-century modern, contemporary home? Or would you prefer to purchase a house for sale in Boston, Massachusetts, with Federal or Colonial lines? No matter your preference, when you are ready to start your home search, you need to enlist the services of a real estate agent who is highly familiar with the area. Ricardo Rodriguez & Associates has served the Boston area for almost 20 years. Our proven track record and exceptional customer service have led to our recognition as one of the top teams in the northeast for Coldwell Banker. Contact us to start your Boston home search today!

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