The Different Types of Building and Home Architecture in North America
The Native Americans were the first inhabitants of North America. The different tribes of Pre Columbian America were as the Apache, Huron, Cherokee, Sioux, Delaware, Algonquin, Choctaw, Mohegan, Iroquois and Inuit. It would be right to assume that the first homes built in what is known today as United States of America, were tepees. The Mississippian culture were not as advanced as the Mesoamerican cultures of the South so North America did not have the outstanding and magnificent ruins similar to those of the Incas or Aztecs. For the most part, the Mississippians were mound-building Native Americans.
Colonial House Styles (1600-1800)
The coming of the first Europeans began the colonial history of the United States. The colonizers brought with them their country's traditional building designs and materials. American colonial architecture may be divided into: First Period English (late Middle Ages); French Colonial; Spanish Colonial; Dutch Colonial; German Colonial and Georgian Colonial.
- First Period English was the name given to the houses erected in the first English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 and Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. These buildings had very steep roofs, small windows and big chimneys. The small windows may be attributed to the fact that glasses were scarce in the colonies.
- French Colonial architecture began in the Mississippi where early French settlers set roots. The architecture style was a combination of French, West Indies, and Caribbean building traditions. Homes were built to accommodate the hot weather. French colonial homes were surrounded by porches, had French doors, built of timber and had the living quarters built above ground.
- Spanish Colonial architecture presented itself with materials such as rocks, adobe bricks, coquina and stucco. The early Spanish colonial homes were one-story, had flat or low pitch clay or thatch roof, small windows and thick walls. Later designs were two-storey affairs with inner courtyards and balconies and Greek revival details.
- Dutch Colonial homes were first built in what is known today as New York. The first Dutch settlers built one-room cottages with stone walls and steep roofs for lofts. Later on two-storey gable roof homes were built.
- German Colonial homes used the half-timber method of construction. This meant that a frame braced with timber was filled with mortar.
- Georgian Colonial homes were defined by its square and symmetrical plan, central door, and sets of straight windows on the first and second floors. A decorative crown is usually set above the door and flanked by flat columns.
Early National and Romantic House Styles (1780-1860)
The Romantic house styles evolved at the time when America was breaking off from the English colonizers. The English had their Georgian period in architecture (1730-1800) which was a revival of classical Greek and Roman architecture; it was only at this time that Americans were reverting to the classics as evident in Thomas Jefferson's home called "Monticello". The Greek Revival period was dominated by designs such as: pedimented Gable covering entry supported by columns, symmetrical shape, decorative pilasters, and bold but simple mouldings.
In the 1840s there was a swing towards Gothic revival. The dawn of the Industrial Revolution was at hand and many decorative details and ornaments were easy to procure because they were being mass-produced. The period could be summarized by:
- Asymmetrical Floor Plan
- Grouped Chimneys
- Steeply Pitched Roof
- Quatrefoil and Clover Shaped Windows
- Pinnacles, Battlements, and shaped Parapets
- Oriel Windows
The Italianate was the final Romantic house style. The style is much like the same as Greek revival but with the floor plans mostly asymmetrical.
Victorian House Style (1840-1900)
The Victorian style corresponds with the historical Victorian period. This was during the reign of England's Queen Victoria. The era was the start of the Industrial Revolution so there were many new inventions and innovations that brought forth new methods of construction, production and invention. The period or style was characterized by:
- Irregular shaper steeply pitched roof with the a gable roof for the main entry
- Introduction of textured shingles and other materials
- The addition of partial asymmetrical porch, one storey high and extending on one or both side walls.
- An asymmetrical facade
There were other sub-styles that also became prominent during this period in America. They were Second Empire, Queen Anne, Stick, Shingle, and Richardsonian Romanesque.
Gilded Age House Styles (1880-1929)
The boom of industrialization brought on a new wave of young-rich-Americans who can't wait to show off their wealth by out-building their neighbours and friends. The Gilded age was indeed the Golden age for the wealthy businessmen who build extravagant and palatial homes. The styles that were evolved during this period were under the school of thought of Beaux Arts (grandiose and massive), Renaissance revival, Tudor revival and the Neo-Classical style. Neo -Classical style was defined by Federal style (Romantic style), Greek revival and Georgian revival.
Modern House Styles (1901 to present)
The turn of the 20th century brought on a myriad changes in the political, social, economical, and cultural aspects of the Americans. The New World is no longer "new" in terms of wealth and education. New architects blossomed and with the blossoming came new concepts in designs and structure. In a nutshell the modern era could be divided into the following categories.
1901-1955 Frank Lloyd Wright House Styles
1. Prairie Style
2. Usonian Style
3. Hemicycle Design
4. Organic Design
1905-1945 Early 20th Century House Styles
1. Arts & Crafts (Craftsman)
1945-1980 Post War House Styles
1. Ranch Style
1930- present Modern House Styles
1965 - present Neo House Styles
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