Houses of this style are large, asymmetrical, two-and-a-half story, hip or gable roofed structures with rough-cut stone or brick walls. The chief feature of Richardsonian Romanesque buildings is the heavily emphasized round Roman arch. A round or square tower is commonly part of the composition. Also characteristic are robust columns, deeply recessed openings, large, low chimneys, and stone banding. Buildings are often polychromatic (exhibit a variety of colors) through the use of contrasting colors of stone.
The style is named for architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who practiced in the 1870s and 80s and who originated the style. It was based on 11th- and 12th-century Romanesque architecture of Western Europe, characterized by massive stone walls and round arches. Richardson was a Boston architect whose buildings influenced architects throughout the country. Because of its large scale and heavy appearance, Richardsonian Romanesque was most suited to public buildings and is less often seen in domestic architecture.
City Hall (1893), designed by local architect Samuel Hannaford, is the best Richardsonian Romanesque building in Cincinnati. While houses of the style are rare (they were expensive to build), good examples are found in Clifton, Walnut Hills, and North Avondale.