An A-frame house or other A-frame building is an architectural house or building style featuring steeply-angled sides (roofline) that usually begin at or near the foundation line, and meet at the top in the shape of the letter A. An A-frame ceiling can be open to the top rafters.
Although the triangle shape of the A-frame has been present throughout history, it surged in popularity around the world from roughly the mid-1950s through the 1970s. It was during the post–World War II era that the A-frame acquired its most defining characteristics.
A-frame buildings are an ancient form known in Europe (e.g. cruck frame construction or grubenhaus) China, and the South Pacific islands sometimes called a roof hut and were simple structures used for utilitarian purposes until the 1950s. In 1934, R.M. Schindler built the first modern A-frame house, for owner Gisela Bennati, in Lake Arrowhead, California. Architects Walter Reemelin, John Campbell, George Rockrise, Henrik H Bull, and Andrew Geller helped to popularize Schindler's idea in the early 1950s, designing A-frame vacation homes. In 1955, Andrew Geller built an A-frame house on the beach in Long Island, New York, known as the Elizabeth Reese House. Geller's design won international attention when it was featured in The New York Times on May 5, 1957. Before long, thousands of A-frame homes were being built around the world.
The Abbey Resort in Fontana-on-Geneva Lake, Wisconsin claims to have the world's tallest wooden A-frame.
Rise in popularity
The post–World War II popularity of the A-frame has been attributed to a combination of factors including Americans' extra disposable income, the inexpensiveness of building an A-frame structure, and a new interest in acquiring a second home for vacationing.
Another factor contributing to the rise of the A-frame included the adaptability of the structure itself, which enabled architects to experiment with more modern designs. A-frames were a useful medium in which architects could explore their creative side since they were relatively cheap to build.
Additionally, many people preferred the idea of a "modern-style" vacation home to that of a "modern-style" primary home. A-frames became available as prefabricated kits, lowering the cost even more, and were sold by Macy's department stores.
After the rise of the archetypal A-frame, architects soon began experimenting with new designs, which led to what became known as the modified A-frame style.
- Bennati House (1934), Lake Arrowhead, California, designed by Rudolph Schindler
- Elizabeth Reese House, Sagoponack, New York, designed by Andrew Geller
- Numerous examples in Washington state.
- Numerous examples, including historic kits and (recent?) "Yosemite-adjacent" ones, in Curbed
- 12 A-frame houses in Northcrest Historic District, Atlanta, Georgia
- Ranger cabin, Oregon, in Zig-zag Ranger District
- Park City, Utah ski houses (two being demolished, but do others survive?)
- Simpson Methodist Church (1957), Pullman, Washington
- Saint Joseph Church (c.1960), Lynden, Washington
- Yaddlethorpe Methodist Church, Yaddlethorpe? (see File:Yaddlethorpe Methodist Church - geograph.org.uk - 181813.jpg)
- Numerous older Wienerschnitzel stores are A-frames
- Whataburger stores
- IHOP restaurants
- Tastee-Freez stores
- Nickerson Farms stores (e.g., see File:Abandoned Nickerson Farms, Picacho, AZ.jpg)
- Travelers Rest Motel, near Everett, Pennsylvania
- Dick Lewis Pontiac-Cadillac (1964), Olympia, Washington
- The main building of Florida's Disney's Contemporary Resort, in which the Walt Disney World monorail has a station
- Lake Easton Resort (c.1963), Easton, Washington
- Tiki Lodge (c.1964), Spokane, Washington
- "A-frame" Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
- Randl, Chad. A-frame. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004. Print.
- "The (R.M.) Schindler List". Archived from the original on 2016-09-26. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
- Fred A. Bernstein, "Andrew Geller, 87, Modernist Architect, Dies", New York Times. December 27, 2011 Archived March 20, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. accessed 1/26/2014
- "Starting A Roofing Business". Archived from the original on 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2021-04-29. Thursday, 29 April 2021
- "A-frame / 1950 - 1990 / Washington State Examples". 8 July 2014. Archived from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- Alexandra Lange (September 22, 2017). "The A-frame effect: Not just another house, but a way of life". Archived from the original on October 14, 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- "Northcrest Historic District Listed in National Register of Historic Places". May 5, 2017. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
- "Agenda". Park City Municipal Corporation. October 16, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-04-16. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
- "Travelers Rest Motel". SAH Archipedia. 17 July 2018. Archived from the original on 17 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
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