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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Also known as cornbelt cube, two-story pyramid, prairie square, prairie house, two-story square, and other names, the foursquare farmhouse is part of the Oklahoma landscape. This square or nearly square building normally has at least two full stories, each with four major rooms. The roof is pyramidal or steeply hipped, and sometimes the pyramid is truncated. Brackets often support a substantial roof overhang, and basements, large porches, dormers, and rear additions are numerous. White is by far the most common color, but others are seen. Most of these structures are built of wood, but some are of brick, stucco, and concrete block. This house is substantially built, but its lack of ornamentation conveys stark simplicity.

The foursquare house is present in town and country alike, and it is associated with prosperity. Maintenance is usually good, and these homes tend to be assessed at a high value. This is not a folk house, built from local tradition, but a popular style found across the country, especially the Midwest. Most foursquare houses were erected between 1900 and 1930 from plans available in pattern books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. Furthermore, the foursquare house was among the dwellings that could be purchased in their entirety from catalogs.

John A. Milbauer

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Charles R. Goins and John W. Morris, Oklahoma Homes, Past and Present (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).

Thomas W. Hanchett, "The Four Square House Type in the United States," in Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, ed. Camille Wells (Annapolis, Md.: Vernacular Architecture Forum, 1982).

Arn Henderson, Frank Parman, and Dortha Henderson, Architecture in Oklahoma: Landmark and Vernacular (Norman, Okla.: Point Riders Press, 1978).

Virginia McAlester and A. Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
John A. Milbauer, “Foursquare House,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=FO056.

Published January 15, 2010

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