History of Victorian homes in San Jose, CA

Explore what makes these Victorian Era buildings unique.

Two Victorian houses.

You’ll see many Queen Anne Victorians in the Hensley Historic District.

Photo by SJtoday staff

Table of Contents

Driving around San Jose, you’ll likely spot a range of architectural influences as diverse as our community is.

In this new series, we’re highlighting the history and characteristics of unique architectural styles found in San Jose — starting with Victorian homes.

🔍 This Olde House

While many use the descriptor “Victorian” to refer to any old house, the term specifically refers to a complex + irregular style of home roughly built between 1860-1900.

This style didn’t become popular in San Jose until the late 1880s and early 1890s. You’ll see many examples of three distinct Victorian stylesthe Queen Anne, the Stick, and the Shingle — in the Hensley Historic District, the Rose Garden neighborhood, and other areas around Downtown.

WinchesterMyseryHouse_Exterior 4 - Feature

Note the finials, turrets, gables, varied shingles, and ornamentation across the Winchester mansion.

Photo by SJtoday staff

✅ Spot that style

Queen Anne style
Inspired by pre-industrial homes built circa 1702-1714, this style is all about ornamentation + mix-matched designs. For example, Sarah Winchester’s infamous mansion was built in this style.

Key giveaways: Asymmetry, stained glass windows, tons of ornamental woodwork + protruding features

Stick style

This style combines decorative elements of the Queen Anne with the older Gothic Revival style.

Key giveaways: Wall ornamentation, “stickwork” trusses, fancy scroll wood work around gables + porches

Shingle style

Influenced by simpler Richardsonian Romanesque + American colonial styles, this home loses the decorative detailing, but keeps the Queen Anne’s decorative detailing.

Key giveaways: Shingles everywhere, curved shapes, a prominent front gable

A blue Victorian house with a front garden.

Note the curved window, prominent front gable, and extensive shingles on this Hensley Shingle-style Victorian.

Photo by SJtoday staff

🏠 Love it? Live it

If you’re looking for your next home, here are some Victorians on the market today.

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