Elaborate, bold and colorful, Victorians are a departure from houses with symmetrical lines. They come in a variety of styles, such as painted ladies, Gothic Revivals and Italianates. Features may include irregularly shaped roofs, decorative gables, gingerbread trim, textured or clapboard siding, turrets and wide, wraparound porches.
Named for the era when they originated -- during the reign of Queen Victoria of England, from 1837 to 1901 -- Victorians have special appeal to certain buyers, says Lisa Leib of Realty Connect USA, who is marketing the 1914 home in Smithtown featured here (far right). "They are for a particular buyer who can really appreciate Old World charm and their historic importance," adds Maria Babaev of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, broker of the 19th century Sea Cliff house on these pages.
"I think many people are attracted to the fine woodworking details, as well as bright color paint and intricate trims with elaborate detailing," says Tracy Boucher of Coach Realtors, the listing broker of the featured Bayport house, which was custom-built in 1994.
For Penny Strong, it's the appeal of a wraparound porch. Strong, an artist and agent for Douglas Elliman Real Estate and the owner of the Northport house pictured here, grew up in Bay Shore on a block lined with Victorians. "Everybody had a porch," Strong reminisces, noting they exude an inviting feeling that has stayed with her. She eventually moved to Northport, where she owned two homes before getting the porch of her dreams. She bought a lot and worked on plans to build a Victorian that would look like it had stood in the village since the 1880s.
While some buyers are on a mission to restore an oldie but goody, others simply enjoy a replica that doesn't require such things as new heating and plumbing systems, agents say. Currently, there are several Victorians on the market that fit either bill. Here's a sample of what's out there.
NORTHPORT, 11 Summit Ave., $949,000
People are always astonished when they learn that this authentic-looking Victorian was built in 1987 rather than 1887, says owner Penny Strong, noting it took about 19 months to complete. Set on a foundation that is about 10 feet high, the well-insulated painted lady -- about 2,500 square feet -- is three stories tall, with cedar shingles and a steel beam roof. Strong estimates that the wraparound porch extends out about 12 feet deep. "It's wide," she says, noting it keeps the house dry, as well as in the shade in the summer, while windows and skylights provide warmth from the sun streaming in during the winter. "The house is energy-efficient all by itself."
And it's painted in elegant, subtle colors: blue spruce on the body, with teal trim and teal and schoolhouse red accents. All 48 Andersen windows are in a tree-bark Terry tone, and the double doors are also red. Inside, the interior has an open concept. "It was way ahead of its time," says Strong, adding that it's an easy house to entertain in. It has three bathrooms and four bedrooms, including the master, which accesses the upper porch. Total taxes (including village) are $12,708.
Penny Strong, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 917-817-2948
SEA CLIFF, 115 Central Ave., $1,199,000
Placed on the local, state and national historic registries, this four-story circa 1890 Gothic-style Victorian was built by John Wood and designed by Oliver Combs. Features of this restored and renovated home include a slate fish-scale gabled roof, painted diamond and crisscross siding and a hand-carved, painted balustrade, as well as a gingerbread-accented wraparound porch. There is another porch (not wraparound) and two verandas. Period doors open to the foyer, where there are original working gas sconces. The parquet floors were installed during the Depression to give a local craftsman a job, says the listing agent. Smooth plaster walls, intricate moldings, tall windows and two fireplaces are among the details of the main level. The updated kitchen is designed with wood countertops, a center island with seating, a large sink, another sink for prep and a working antique stove.
On the second floor, there are five bedrooms and two bathrooms, including one with a free-standing cast-iron tub, while the third floor has two bedrooms with dormer windows, a full bath, a study and a playroom. The basement -- mostly above ground -- is finished with a guest suite and family room. The house is on its own block on a 190-by-120-foot lot. Total taxes, including village, are $16,411.
Maria Babaev, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 516-621-3555
BAYPORT, 130 Gerritsen Ave., $899,000
With all the grace of a vintage painted lady, this three-story Victorian was custom-built in 1994. "The woodwork is incredible," says the listing agent, noting the homeowners chose every piece, including the crown molding, wainscoting and rich wooden panels. Antique lighting fixtures can be found in most rooms, while others have custom-made reproduced lighting fixtures with glass imported from France. Glass doorknobs accent interior doors, while stained-glass windows complement the master bath and the finished granny attic. Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper is hung in the living room, library, dining room, kitchen and hallways. Other features include a fireplace in the living room and new appliances in the kitchen, as well as three bedrooms and 21/2 baths. "A lot of thought went into the house," the agent says, noting the classic design lends itself equally to antique or modern furniture and decor. Outside, the one-acre parcel is landscaped with English gardens and an in-ground pool. Taxes are $20,683.
Tracy Boucher, Coach Realtors, 631-766-3861
SMITHTOWN, 169 Edgewood Ave., $549,000
Watch the world go by from the granny porch of this circa 1914 Victorian, which is on almost one acre. Interior features include wood floors, a fireplace, all-new leaded glass windows, a dumbwaiter and a 1930s Magic Chef Oven. The first floor includes a foyer, two parlors (or living rooms), a dining room, the kitchen and guest quarters with a bathroom. There are four bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. From here, a narrow staircase ascends to the finished third-floor attic, where there are closets and a skylight. Amenities include a new gas Burnham Burner and a detached one-car garage. The circular driveway can accommodate up to 10 cars, says the agent. Taxes are $12,307.
Lisa Leib, Realty Connect USA, 631-678-5794
WADING RIVER, 278 Sound Rd., $449,999
As grand as its history, this 17-room Victorian was built in 1895 as a summer hotel, says Laurine Tuleja, the daughter of the sellers, who grew up there. Soon after, "Dr. James Fleming of Brooklyn purchased the house and rented rooms to his patients for the healing effects of the fresh, salt air and the serene country living," Tuleja adds. In 1908, the house appeared on the front page of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to accompany a story about Wading River.
From about the 1920s through the 1950s, the house, under different ownership, served as the Cedar Crest Lodge. Tuleja's parents purchased the house in 1972. Before they moved in, they spent about a year reconstructing and modernizing the home's mechanics, Tuleja says.
Today, it retains some original features, including the front and rear staircases, original stained-glass windows and wide plank floors on the third floor, pocket doors, a fireplace in the Victorian-style parlor and a claw-foot tub in one of 31/2 bathrooms. There are seven bedrooms.
Original room numbers are on 10 rooms on the second and third floors. Outside, the covered porch offers views of Long Island Sound and a preserved meadow. About a quarter-mile from the beach, the house -- about 4,052 square feet -- is set high on 1.30 acres. Taxes are $12,709.
Maryann Iacono, Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty, 631-734-5439