In honor of the United States of America’s Independence Day, we proudly celebrate the unique architectural styles which were invented right here in the good ol’ USofA. Like the can opener, the credit card and musical theatre, these styles are distinct American inventions. The following houses are are some of our designs which represent our rich American history:
Carpenter Gothic, also called Carpenter’s Gothic, and Rural Gothic, is a North American architectural style-designation for an application of Gothic Revival architectural detailing and picturesque massing applied to wooden structures built by house-carpenters. The abundance of North American timber and the carpenter-built vernacular architectures based upon it made a picturesque improvisation upon Gothic a natural evolution.
Like much of America’s architecture, the Federal (or Federalist) style has its roots in the British Isles. Three Scottish brothers named Adam adapted the pragmatic Georgian style, adding swags, garlands, urns, and Neoclassical details. In the newly formed United States, homes and public buildings also took on graceful airs. Inspired by the work of the Adam brothers and also by the great temples of ancient Greece and Rome, Americans began to build homes with Palladian windows, circular or elliptical windows, recessed wall arches, and oval-shaped rooms. This new Federal style became associated with America’s evolving national identity.
Adirondack Architecture refers to the rugged architectural style generally associated with the Great Camps within the Adirondack Mountains area in New York. The builders of these camps used native building materials and sited their buildings within an irregular wooded landscape. These camps for the wealthy were built to provide a primitive, rustic appearance while avoiding the problems of in-shipping materials from elsewhere.
In the mid-19th century, many prosperous Americans believed that ancient Greece represented the spirit of democracy. Interest in British styles had waned during the bitter War of 1812. Also, many Americans sympathized with Greece’s own struggles for independence in the 1820s. Greek Revival architecture began with public buildings in Philadelphia. Many European-trained architects designed in the popular Grecian style, and the fashion spread via carpenter’s guides and pattern books. Colonnaded Greek Revival mansions – sometimes called Southern Colonial houses – sprang up throughout the American south. With its classic clapboard exterior and bold, simple lines, Greek Revival architecture became the most predominant housing style in the United States.
The Shingle style is an American architectural style made popular by the rise of the New England school of architecture, which eschewed the highly ornamented patterns of the Eastlake style in Queen Anne architecture. In the Shingle style, English influence was combined with the renewed interest in Colonial American architecture which followed the 1876 celebration of the Centennial. The plain, shingled surfaces of colonial buildings were adopted, and their massing emulated.
Aside from being a style of design, the style also conveyed a sense of the house as continuous volume. This effect—of the building as an envelope of space, rather than a great mass, was enhanced by the visual tautness of the flat shingled surfaces, the horizontal shape of many Shingle-style houses, and the emphasis on horizontal continuity, both in exterior details and in the flow of spaces within the houses.
Enough with the history lesson! Have a happy Fourth of July and, during the holiday, enjoy some other American inventions: air conditioning, breakfast cereal, cream cheese, chewing gum and rolled toilet paper.