American Architecture


17th-century English colonial architecture


Most resembles the late medieval forms that survived in rural England.


Houses were built in a range of sizes


The Parson Capen House (1683), in Topsfield, Massachusetts


Gables, overhangs, and lack of symmetry reflected the late medieval flavor of Europe.


In Virginia and Maryland, brick construction was preferred for the typically story-and-a-half homes with chimneys at both ends and a more nearly symmetrical façade


Thomas Rolfe House (1652), in Surry County, Virginia.


The Senate House (1676-95), in Kingston, New York


The manor house, Fort Crailo (1642), in Rensselaer, New York


Aside from fortifications, the principal nondomestic structures in the 17th-century colonies were churches


Cities founded in the 17th century, such as Boston were chaotic in plan.


18th-century colonial architecture


With the turn of the 18th century, the colonies began to take on a more permanent and established character, as the hardships of the wilderness were overcome, and increasing commerce and production permitted the growth of prosperous cities.


Newly founded cities, such as Williamsburg, Virginia, Annapolis, Maryland, and especially Philadelphia, were laid out on a regular grid, with public squares—the kind of logical organization that had eluded planners in London during the same period.


Architects began building larger and much more ambitious buildings that were modest versions of London’s early baroque styles.


. Wren Building (begun 1695) at William and Mary College, in Williamsburg,


The Capitol (1699-1705), in Williamsburg


The Philadelphia Courthouse (1709)


Architects began building more sophisticated churches


Christ Church (1727-44), in Philadelphia


Saint Michael’s (1751-53), in Charleston, South Carolina,


The first quarter of the 18th century is represented in domestic architecture by the McPhedris-Warner House (1718-23), in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, two rooms deep with a central-stair hall.


Around mid-century, country houses were designed in the English Palladian style


Drayton Hall (1738) near Charleston.


Important public buildings were also treated in the Palladian style


The Pennsylvania Hospital (begun 1754) in Philadelphia


Early 19th-century Architecture




The social and economic dislocations of the American Revolution brought building virtually to a halt.


A resurgence in art and architecture, as well as the establishment of a new national style, occurred during the quarter century from 1785 to about 1810.


In the 1790s the postwar prosperity of such cities as Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, New York, Baltimore, Maryland, and Savannah, Georgia, produced much building activity in a distinctive style termed Federal


The Federal style reflects the delayed acceptance of the British architect Robert Adam’s version of English neoclassical architecture. Large flat surfaces, simple columns, the refined classical detail were characteristics of the Federal style


The stuccoed homes of Savannah, such as the Richardson-Owens-Thomas House (1817-19).


Thomas Jefferson was a leader in introducing to the colonies a more advanced neoclassical design.


His home, Monticello (1770-75),


The new state capitol at Richmond was desined directly after a Roman temple, the Maison-Carrée at Nîmes, France.


The neoclassical, based primarily on Roman sources and the work of Adam and the English architect Sir John Soane, became the official and popular style of the new nation, and it filled the new city of Washington, D.C.


Benjamin Latrobe, born and schooled in England, was the first fully trained neoclassical architect to work in the U.S.


The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1806-18) in Baltimore.


neoclassical style was followed by the Greek Revival, which reflected the heavier taste of the late Regency in England and became (1820-50) what might be called the national style.


The Greek-temple form was preferred for public and domestic structures alike


The southern plantation houses.


About 1850 a wider range of romantic revival styles was being employed as well; Gothic and Tuscan revivals, which display asymmetrical floor plans and picturesque groupings of architectural components, were favored. The financial panic of 1857 and the disruptions of the American Civil War, however, brought to a close this building phase


Late 19th-century early 20th-century architecture


The two predominant developments of post-Civil War architecture were the polychromed "muscular" High Victorian Gothic and the mansard Second Empire style.


The popularity of these styles signaled a fundamental shift toward French influence and away from the English styles that had dominated American architecture, painting, and sculpture until that time.


It became easy and customary to study abroad, and many major American artists at the end of the century did so, drawn by the superior quality of art instruction in Paris.



Superior training and