Moving to DC: A Newcomer’s Guide to the Architectural Styles That Dominate Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is famous for many things, but none are as exciting as its rich architectural history. With homes ranging from stately Federal-style mansions and charming Victorian mansions to bungalows, Craftsman residences, and modern condos, there is a lot to explore. If you want to invest in Capitol Hill real estate, here are the most prominent architectural styles you will encounter.


Many of the older homes for sale in Capitol Hill are Federal-style buildings. Inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, this style was one of the first construction movements to take over DC and remains a prominent piece of the architectural fabric of Capitol Hill. Homes built in this style feature refined arcades, straight lines, an often modest scale, and low stoops. Available in row-house and single-family formations, Federal-style homes are usually two floors with two or three bedrooms.


Colonial architecture is famous in the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic suburbs. Essentially a combination of different styles and influences, colonial architecture has undergone multiple revivals and has existed in various iterations. The style is most prominent in Capitol Hill and is characterised by ornamental window shutters, rectangular facades, centred front entrances, symmetrical lines, paired chimneys and doorway pillars. Many colonial homes are also two-story.


Also called Revival homes, Tudor homes are an offshoot of the Colonial style that became popular in Washington, DC, in the early 1900s. The style is considered a link and transitional style between the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Characteristic features include exposed dark woods, rich wood trims, pointed roofs, intricate motifs, and an overall medieval appearance.


The Victorian mansion is highly distinctive for its size, although it is not an architectural style on its own. Victorian homes come in various styles and sub-styles, including Queen Anne, Italianate, Mid-Century Modern, and Gothic Revival. Their massive size is their most prominent feature, with most homes featuring five bedrooms or more, multiple bathrooms, tall ceilings, large curved stairs, and carriage houses. Other notable features include breakfast nooks, elaborate embellishments, turrets, brick exteriors, traditional towers, front-facing gables, and steeply pitched roofs.


Contemporary homes in Capitol Hill stand out against the landscape of classic traditional architecture in the area. The style is prominent in public buildings, with the most famous example being the National Museum of African American History. Characteristic features include clean, long lines, large floor-to-ceiling windows, open concepts, airy interiors, and modernist facades.


A sub-style of the Neoclassical and Greek Revival styles, Beaux-Arts is an ornate style that originated from the Renaissance movement. Typical features of this design include balustrades, balconies, columns, symmetry, grand designs, and some level of formality. The interiors will often have animal motifs, floral decorations, and ornate sculptures, among other features.

Explore Capitol Hills Homes for Sale with The Rutstein Group

The quality and variety of homes available in Capitol Hill means you are sure to find a house that meets your needs. And the homes are only part of the equation. Homes in the area are set on tree-lined streets, with large welcoming porches, vibrant gardens, and breathtaking skyline views. Whether you are planning to move here, move to another neighbourhood, or even buy a second home, contact the Rutstein Group today for expert advice on how to buy a home in Capitol Hill.