20TH CENTURY

MINIMAL TRADITIONAL (1940 1960)

The Minimal Traditional style, sometimes referred to as the Minimal Tract, is loosely based on the Tudor style.  Minimal Traditional buildings are very simplified versions of the other higher style buildings.  Minimal Traditional style homes were in response to the country’s emergence from the Depression.  The style was built in large numbers throughout the country immediately proceeding and following World War II.  The style reached its peek in popularity throughout the 1940s.  The building is a transition between the deep set bungalows and the horizontally orientated ranch homes.  Stylistic features derive from the Tudor style.  In larger examples of the style, colonial elements (porches, balustrades, and columns) are incorporated into the design.

Primary Stylistic Features
  • Compact in size, typically one or one and a half story in height.
  • Moderately pitched gable or hip roofs with minimal overhangs, if any.
  • Simplified details to reflect modernity.
Secondary Stylistic Features
  • Side gable buildings often have an intersecting gable to shelter the main entrance.
  • Clad in narrow horizontal wood siding, wood shingles, or in rare cases birch or stone.
  • Windows are typically wood and modest after the World War II.  In some cases, one large picture is incorporated on the street facing elevation.
  • Multi-lite windows are common in the style before the World War II.
  • Simple floor plan.
  • Traditional building materials (wood and brick) used in cladding to emphasize the street facing elevation.

Evaluation Considerations

In most cases, the Minimal Traditional building will gain significance as a component of a historic district. Minimal Traditional homes may be found in Alaska as early components of tract development. In many cases, newer development grew around these homes. To be found individually eligible, the building must embody all the primary features, reflect a majority of the secondary features, be associated with a prominent builder or developer, and be a rare architectural type in the locality. In a district, Minimal Traditional buildings must embody all the primary features and a majority of the secondary features.

Minimal Traditional homes were intended to be flexible in design. In a district, small additions should not render a building ineligible, either as part of a district or individually. Additions must maintain the small building feel embodied in the style. The addition must be carefully considered to ensure that the building is still able to convey its significance. Additionally, each building must maintain enough primary and secondary features to maintain eligibility.


For Further Information

Checkoway, Barry, "Large Builders, Federal Housing Programmes, and Postwar Suburbanization," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 4(March 1980), 21-45.

Albrcht, Donald, ed., World War II and the American Dream: How Wartime Building Changed a Nation, Washington: National Building Museum, and Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995.