The first Gothic Revival houses, built of brick or stone, resembled small castles and featured square towers, pointed arch windows and battlements (walls with regularly spaced openings extending above the roof). Later houses, which were cottages constructed of wood, are referred to as "Carpenter Gothic." The invention of the powered scroll saw made the wooden "gingerbread" ornamentation, which came to distinguish the style, easy to produce. Among this ornamentation are bargeboards (gable trim) and cut-out brackets and porch railings. Also characteristic are steep gable roofs, pointed arch windows, and vertical board-and-batten siding. Color schemes for Carpenter Gothic houses included tan with dark brown, and warm gray with slate gray.


The Gothic Revival, which originated in England in the early 19th century, came to this country in the 1840s. Style books such as Cottage Residences (1842) and The Architecture of Country Houses (1850) by Andrew Jackson Downing, were partially responsible for the popularity of Gothic Revival. The style had reached Cincinnati by 1850. Though the city was growing rapidly at that time, Gothic Revival houses are not common here. Perhaps the reason for this is that most of the growth between 1850 and 1870 took place in the basin, where much of the housing is urban row houses. Rural settings were recommended by Downing for Gothic Revival houses, and areas such as East Walnut Hills and Columbia-Tusculum, which were rural during the period of the style, are where the few examples can be found.