House Tours

Oh, those amazing builders of Victorian homes! Born during the Industrial Revolution, these designers embraced new materials and technologies to create houses like no one had ever seen before. Mass-production and mass-transit (think railroads) made ornamental parts affordable. Victorian architects and builders applied decoration liberally, combining features borrowed from many different eras with flourishes from their own imaginations.

Victorian Architecture

Victorian architecture refers to several styles developed during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901).

Everyone has seen them - those huge old historic homes that reflect the genteel days of the Victorian era and invite imaginations of what lies behind stately doors. While imagination is great, it's not always required. Many of these stunning structures in Belvidere will be open during Victorian Days 2018 to the public and will provide glimpses into the past.

A common mental image of a "Victorian" home looks much like a dollhouse with elaborate trim and bright colors. There's a reason Victorian homes have descriptors like "storybook," "gingerbread," and "whimsical" — their otherworldly designs and color palettes evoke a childlike delight. But the term "Victorian architecture" actually refers to styles that emerged during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Victorian era spawned several well-known styles, including Gothic revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, stick style, Romanesque style and shingle style. The Victorian styles evolved largely from the imposing, elaborate Gothic style, which appealed to the romantic Victorian idea that fashion, architecture and furnishings should be beautiful rather than practical. A wealthy Victorian woman's clothing, for example, involved corsets, hoop skirts and dresses that used yards of fabric. It made sense for the trendy home designs to reflect that excess as well.

Architects took the ideas of Gothic architecture and added French, Italian, Tudor and even Egyptian details. Designers were free to combine the styles to create several different well-known styles -- and combine the styles as they saw fit. As a result, there are few Victorian homes that look the same.

Ideas from the Gothic style may have started the Victorian styles, but a kick from the Industrial Revolution nationalized the trend. Steam-powered sawmills could create elaborate materials cheaper and faster. As a result, late Victorian homes became increasingly ornate. Even lower-income families could afford trim and patterns to turn their existing homes into "folk Victorians."

The Queen Anne style came into fashion in the 1880s, at the height of the mass-production of architectural trim. These elaborate, brightly colored homes are the image most people think of when they picture a Victorian home.

As the Arts and Crafts Movement began to hit America, critics accused the Victorians of needless complexity and clutter, advocating a more streamlined, handcrafted home. The style fell out of fashion, but is still very prevalent in historic communities around the country.

2018 House Tours

At this year's Victorian Days you will have the opportunity to tour many gorgeously decorated and lovingly cared for homes, which feature a variety of Victorian architectural styles. We wholeheartedly thank the many residents who have agreed to open up their properties so that we may enjoy their historic ambiance during Victorian Days.

2018 House Tour Ticket

A ticket is required in order to enjoy the time-honored tradition of Victorian House Tours.

In-Person Tickets Available

Although online ticket sales for these tours have ended, there are still tickets available. Please visit our TICKET TENT during Victorian Days to purchase a House Tour Ticket for $25 per person.

Host A House Tour

Inspirational Photo Gallery

Registration Form

Please submit a completed form if you would like to host a Victorian Home Tour.

Who Can Host A House Tour

Victorian, historic and artistic homes, structures and other areas are permissible, such as:

  • Victorian & Historic Homes
  • Historic Banks and Other Structures
  • Gentleman's Caves or Lounges
  • Elaborate Sheds, Garages and Storage Barns

If you're not ready to open all or part of your home, perhaps you will consider hosting a Victorian Porch or Garden Tea. You may also host both.

Many thanks to our friends at HGTV for some of the informational content on this page.