Little House in History

Little House in History

little house in history

A.M. one of the Tiny House Blog’s regular readers has discovered some really neat historical homes in some old publications and has started sending them to me. I wanted to share with you one that really caught my eye. Here is what A.M. has to say:

This little house is from an 1878 architectural publication, called “American Architect and Building News” that is supposedly out of copyright. (I would imagine anything from 1878 probably is!) It featured illustrations of designs that were actually built in America, including public buildings (city buildings, hospitals, churches), as well as projects that were privately commissioned. That makes this not only cute, but perhaps (assuming this one really was built as well) even a snapshot of history!

This one is from the April 13, 1878 issue of the publication.


  1. That’s a wonderful picture. As it’s out of copyright, any chance of a higher resolution version? I’d like to make it my desktop!

  2. Not only lovely, but important:

    “The first published design by an American woman architect was an 1878 student project for a workman’s cottage by Margaret Hicks…”

    from Designing for Diversity: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Architectural Profession, By Kathryn H. Anthony, pg. 48

    • Tim: that’s the 1st thing I noticed, too! NO bathroom is the deal breaker for me!!!! I grew up in a farm house with NO bathroom or running water, for 10 years of my life. It is NOT fun nor pretty when you are sick…picture the scenario. And for women vs. men, sitting is necessary unless you use a funnel, and come on, HOW many women would want to use a funnel 3-4 times per day?

  3. My kind of house! Wish the pics of the floor plan were a tad bit bigger, but from what I can see, it would a perfect, small home for a couple maybe even a small family.

  4. What’s interesting in historical floorplans, is that while so many are not tiny in terms of the room dimensions they were designed with (speaking of other plans, at least), there are so many designs with only 2, 3 or 4 rooms per floor that could be downsized to make absolutely awesome tiny/small homes that would be practical for people who have families and such. In some cases, you could even remove a room here or there, downsize it and the rest would be perfect. The super-narrow “shotgun” home designs might be awesome for manufactured homes.

    In modern homes, there is a lot of wasted space, but in historical plans, at least, you won’t find too many closets taking up the space of entire bedrooms, or bathrooms doing the same, and so on. The exteriors were just beautiful, in many cases, (details which are also very worth miniaturizing!) and most of the time you could convert one of the existing rooms to a bathroom and have just an awsome tiny house floorplan, if only they were downsized in terms of dimensions. Which I assume any professional architect could do.

    I got lucky with this one, though, as it seems so small already!

  5. Here’s a slightly bigger copy, and one I tried to color in photoshop.

    Going to see if I can get an image to pop up directly for the colored in one. Not sure if it’ll work or not…


      • No problem!

        Now, if only Four Lights or Tumbleweed would start producing/designing minature Victorians! lol

        I have a crazy dream of a cozy Victorian in miniature, complete with a tiny wrap around porch… I know where to get the wardrobe that goes with it, but unfortunately, I can afford neither. Pity. ^_^

    • The version of this house in color is just beautiful. I’m a letter carrier currently delivering to a new housing development of mini mcmansions. What I adore about this Victorian is craftsmanship, pure and simple, evident even in the drawing, here. I simply cannot understand why someone today would want to buy a house just because of something called a ‘pop out breakfast nook,’ i.e., that popped-out eyesore on the back of the house that always looks to me as if it’s, understandably, begging to be set free (I would if I were it); I cannot fathom why someone would want to buy such a cheaply, poorly built, characterless home, a house in which no one, in any aspect of its construction, has given any imaginative thought nor bothered concerning themselves with craft in any way. The gables of this small Victorian, the slight arches of the stone over its windows, are shapes maybe not unique in architecture, but together, their forms are unique to this house in a way that makes the pretty structure so charming and inviting. I don’t think I want to live in a 100 square foot house, but what I love about this blog, after a day spent wending my way through the modern home and its unfortunate backyard barnacle in which one is meant to ‘breakfast,’ the things I like about the surprising diversity of the houses showcased here, are the things all these houses share in common. Good, sometimes surprisingly creative design. Thoughtful choice of building material. And, finally, pride. Pure and simple.

  6. I would also appreciate being able to get a larger view of the floorplans to see more clearly, the notations, and if there are any measurements included! I to would like to have this for my desktop! I would like to have some resources for finding these Pre-Turn of the Century, Tiny House plans!

    • Just click one of the links in my above post, and you should be able to see it better. It’s a bit bigger than the one that got posted.

      First floor has kitchen and living room, pantry? (“P”) and hall, second floor has two bedrooms (“bed room” written as two words … the writing is a little hard to read), and a hall.

      Being an 1800’s house, there was no indoor bathroom or water closet in this one.

  7. I adore this cottage. I wish that I lived in a small home just like this. Thank you and I hope to see more like this in the near future!!!!!

    • Hmmmmm…I like the square footage of the “Barn for Cornell”, actually. Nice and cozy. (said with a smirk)

      Thanks, Johnny, for the much larger version of this wee house. Anyone care to hazard a guess as to the dimensions? Typically, rooms were 10’x10′ back then, so I’d say the interior was 20′ long by 15′ wide. I’d turn the ?hall? upstairs into a reading suite. With today’s costs and labor it would probably be around $150,000 to replicate this in the materials shown, excluding land, of course.