Renaissance Revival enjoyed two periods of popularity. Buildings of the first phase have smooth stone fronts and are cube-like forms. Doors are centrally located and symmetry predominates. Low-pitched hip roofs are sometimes accented with balustrades (railings) above full entablatures (decorative horizontal bands) at the roofline. Carved stone window trim often varies in design from floor to floor. Other ornamentation may include quoins (vertical rows of brick or stone defining the corners of buildings) and horizontal banding between floors.
Houses of the second phase differ from those of the first in size and degree of ornamentation. Second Renaissance Revival houses are generally larger, and, in addition to the decorative treatments of the first phase, are enriched with arched openings supported by columns, full entablatures between floors, and balconies, First floors are often rusticated stone (stone with beveled edges, causing joints between stones to be deeply recessed).
Renaissance Revival was based on the architecture of 16th-century Renaissance Italy. The style was best suited for very grand houses, as well as public and commercial buildings. In Cincinnati, Renaissance Revival is more common in public buildings than in houses. Because of the expensive materials required in building houses of this style, they were affordable only to the wealthy. Perhaps the most familiar local example is a house of the first phase, the old Cuvier Press Club, now known as Butterfield Center, on Garfield Place