Colonial architecture is unique to the United States. It is something that we created out of necessity and our own grand ideas. Colonial Revival Architecture is the most popular type of architecture in the United States. It combines many unique to the country elements such as an symmetrical appearance, the homes may have a gabled, hipped, or gambrel roofline, they also are large homes, usually two stores and you may recognize them by their notable decorative entrance.
What started the Colonial Revival?
In the 1840’s people started thinking more about the past then they had previously. They were ready and willing to find items from the past not only to collect, but to use in their home decorating. This also helped to slowly fuel a need to preserve our past and historic homes in the 1920’s. During this time not only were many plantations saved from ruin, such as Monticello, Stratford Hall, Montpelier, and Oak Hill in Virginia, but this was also the time of the founding of Dearborn Michigan’s Greenfield village by Henry Ford and when John D. Rockefeller Jr started his preservation of Colonial Williamsburg.
The public felt at this time that America was at is best or had it’s Golden Age from the first Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock to about 1826 when the last 2 of the founding fathers passed. Furniture styles from the past such as Federal, Heppelwite and Sheraton were popular along with the more historic colonial style of William and Mary or Chippendale
During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s there became a new idea that the architecture and home furnishings would shape a persons character. People believed that if they wanted their children to be noble, honest, sincerity courage and strength, all colonial virtues, they need to surround them with colonial style homes and furnishings. At this time people believed that luxury and opulent furnishings would create lazy children who would crow into idle adults.
Now we know why this style of architecture and home furnishings became such a big part of American architecture, but how do you know your are looking at or living in a colonial revival home?
Features of a Colonel Revival Home
- A symmetrical façade, but may have side porches or sunrooms on either or both sides.
- Rectangular mass, most of the colonial revival homes are huge box looking structures. They don’t have much to them.
- They are usually at least two stories high, some are three
- Usually the will have a medium pitch, side-gable roof with narrow eaves. they may also have Hipped roofs and dormers.
- Multi-pane double-hung windows with correctly proportioned shutters, they may also have bay windows.
- The entrance is always centered and accented with columns, pilasters, pediment, and/or maybe hooded to create a covered porch.
- The door may have sidelights or panels
- Brick or wood clapboard is the most common siding found in Colonial Revival homes.
- Other design elements you will see in this type of home may include classical columns, two-story pilasters, quoins at corners, dentil trim under eaves, or Palladian windows.
Colonial Architecture is simple yet very beautiful in it’s understated way. We have come to know many of these homes as a symbol of wealth and they will continue to be beacons to remember the past and what made the United States the country it is today.