In the 18th and early 19th centuries American architecture was mostly influenced by architecture of Great Britain. But the War of 1812 caused Americans to lose taste for most things British, and architecture was no exception. A new style was needed to replace the suddenly unfashionable Federal and Georgian styles (which were “imported” from the UK).
In 1821 the Greeks began fight for their own independence from the Turks, arousing interest and much sympathy from the newly independent United States. The favorable opinion that democratically-minded Americans formed of the Greeks was amplified by the fact that democracy was “invented” in ancient Greece. And as luck would have it, ancient Greece also had some cool architecture! Independence and democracy symbolized in bold lines and grandiose columns – our young nation found its new favorite style.
Greek Revival homes are easily recognized for their boxy shape, symmetrical façade, simple yet bold lines, and, of course – the columns (most commonly Doric). Wood was the preferred construction material, and white the most popular color (since ancient Greek temples were made of white marble). Homes of this style are further characterized by a low-pitched roof (gabled or hipped), roof cornice with wide trim, and large, rectangular windows and doors. Arches are not present anywhere as they were not used in ancient Greece.
Greek Revival architecture became so popular that for a while it was called the National Style. And then it became a little too popular. By the 1850’s this style was so dominant that Americans started to get tired of it. New, more ornate styles, such as Gothic and Italianate, appeared, and the golden age of Greek Revival architecture soon came to an end.
Starting in 2003, this blog series ran for 11 years. Click on the images below to read some of the posts.