Architecture for Kids


Georgian was the dominant style of the English colonies from 1700 until about 1780 in the area from Southern Maine to south of Savannah, Georgia. Many thousands of Georgian homes survive today, although most havbe been lost from the major Eastern cities which exploded in growth in the 19th century, particularly Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

Large collections of Georgian homes can be found today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Newport, Rhodes Island, Marblehead, Massachusetts, New Castle, Delaware, Annapolis, Maryland, New Bern, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. Many southern planation houses have also survived.

You can, also, of course, find more modern homes designed in the Georgian style.

People designing and building homes in the colonies during the 18th Century were heavily influenced by English architects of the same period. Indigo Jones had discovered Andrea Palladio who had built palaces, villas, and monumental buildings a hundred years before in Italy. His influence and those who followed, Christopher Wren and James Gibbs, changed not only the architecture of England, but also exported their ideas to the New World through architectural building manuals called pattern books. These included expensive treatises stressing Italian models to carpenters handbooks showing how to construct fashionable doorways, cornices, windows and mantels.

Georgian homes were built of wood or brick depending upon materials locally available. Characteristics include symmetry around a central entrance, pedimented dormers, pedimented windows, and quoints at the corners. After 1750, additional elaborations might include a roof balustrade, a centered front gable or pediment, a shallow projecting central facade, and two story pediments.

Identifying features include:

Georgian homes are the most elaborate residential structures built in the colonies during the 18th Century.
This house is called Sylvester Manor. It is on Shelter Island in New York State. Nathaniel Sylvester bought Shelter Island in 1652 for its wood to supply kegs for his rum trade. This house was built by his grandson, Brinley Sylvester in 1733. It is a grand home, but it was basically a four over four. The front door opens into a grand hall with an elegant staircase on the left. 
Peter Harrison, a self trained architect operating in the Boston area in the mid 1700s, built this house on Brattle Street in Cambridge in 1760. Please note all of the similarities to Sylvester Manor: symmetry, fenestration, and size. Houses similar to this were built not only in New England and the mid-Atlantic colonies, but also as plantation homes throughout the South.
With the end of the Revolution and independence, the country began to develop new building styles (Adam and Early Classical Revival) based on changing European fashions.

Classical Revival
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