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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Historic Preservation & Archaeology > Learn About Topics > Buildings & Bridges > Architectural Styles > Romanesque Revival Style Romanesque Revival Style

Features to Look For:

  • Castle or fortress-like exteriors; heavy, rough stone or brick walls
  • Steeply pitched hip roofs
  • Bold, heavy half-round arches around doorways and windows
  • Towers or projecting bays

The architecture of the Romanesque era (A.D. 800-1150) in Europe presented Victorian builders with simple, sturdy models that could be adapted to 19th century needs. Towns, church congregations, and railroads were the most frequent clients of this style, popular for large-scale public buildings, such as courthouses, city halls, train depots, and churches. Few homeowners chose to build in the Romanesque Revival mode.

Romanesque Revival buildings usually have compact plans and blocky massing. The single most characteristic feature of the style is the use of heavy masonry (brick or roughly finished stone) walls pierced by massive, multiple coursed round arches. Architects placed massive corner towers and lofty hip roofs to give buildings a medieval fortress impression.

The Romanesque Revival style first appeared in Indiana as early as the 1850s. This early phase of the style was imported by German architects and was influenced by a new interest in Romanesque architecture, which developed in Europe during the mid 1800s. Later in the century, American architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-86) greatly popularized Romanesque-inspired buildings. Structures that follow his designs closely are often termed "Richardsonian Romanesque" style buildings. The style remained popular in Indiana until about 1910.

Examples of Romanesque Revival Style

Click to enlarge

Hack and Simon Building
Hack and Simon Office Building
Vincennes, Knox County
Photo - 2003

Elwood Operahouse
Elwood Opera house
Elwood, Madison County
Photo - 2002

Marshall County Infirmary
Marshall County Infirmary
Plymouth, Marshall County
Photo - 2000

Alonzo-Purviance House
Alonzo-Purviance House
Huntington, Huntington County
Photo - 1994

Frazer-Isham Law Office
Frazer & Isham Law Office
Fowler, Benton County
Photo - 2000