so of course, google came in handy. i found this explanation - along with tons of descriptions of other types of houses! i got kind of hooked.
architecture is interesting. it is fun to look at all the different styles of homes in minneapolis: cute tudors, colonial revivals, and cotswold cottages. (i learned that from the site!) and then to drive south through richfield and see the one-and-a-half stories. bloomington is ranch land. you can really see how the house architecture changed as people moved out of the city and into the suburbs. narrow city lots meant people built up, but wider suburban lawns meant people built out.
our house is a mystery. from the front it looks like a ranch, but there's a large half story on the back of the house. hmmm. in a class of its own? we like to think so. :)
(the back, before we ripped the porch off. looks almost like a two-story from here!)