Colonial Style Homes

Builders Borrowed Colonial Ideas to Create Refined Colonial Revival Homes

America's colonial period encompassed a number of housing types and styles, including Cape Cod, Saltbox, Georgian, and Dutch Colonial. However, when we speak of the Colonial style, we often are referring to a rectangular, symmetrical home with bedrooms on the second floor. The double-hung windows usually have many small, equally sized square panes. During the late 1800s and throughout the 20th century, builders borrowed Colonial ideas to create refined Colonial Revival homes with elegant central hallways and elaborate cornices. Unlike the original Colonials, Colonial Revival homes are often sided in white clapboard and trimmed with black or green shutters.

American colonial architecture includes several building design styles associated with the colonial period of the United States, including First Period English (late-medieval), French Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial, German Colonial and Georgian Colonial. These styles are associated with the houses, churches and government buildings of the period between about 1600 through 1850.

Colonial Style - Another Treena Crochet book written for homeowners who are pleased about the historic makeup of their old home, no matter if it's Colonial, Saltbox or Cape Cod, style. The many examples are from real homeowners who went about updating the 17th or 18th century houses they own while keeping the character of bygone days without foregoing today's luxuries or amenities. It was written as an inspiration to homeowners who want to gain more knowledge about the innate qualities of these old homes while keeping them livable and still loveable for themselves into the 21st century.


Several relatively distinct regional styles of colonial architecture are recognized in the United States.

Building styles in the 13 colonies were influenced by techniques and styles from England, as well as traditions brought by settlers from other parts of Europe. In New England, 17th-century colonial houses were built primarily from wood, following styles found in the southeastern counties of England. Dutch Colonial structures, built primarily in the Hudson River Valley, Long Island, and northern New Jersey, reflected construction styles from Holland and Flanders and used stone and brick more extensively than buildings in New England. In Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas, a style called "Southern Colonial" is recognized, characterized by 1-1/2-story brick houses, often with large chimneys projecting from the ends of the house. Along the lower Delaware River, Swedish colonial settlers introduced the log cabin to America. A style sometimes called Pennsylvania colonial appeared later (after 1681) and incorporates Georgian architectural influences. A Pennsylvania Dutch style is recognized in parts of southeastern Pennsylvania that were settled by German immigrants in the 18th century.

Early buildings in some other areas of the United States reflect the architectural traditions of the colonial powers that controlled these regions. Architectural styles of Louisiana and French Canada are identified as French colonial, and reflect medieval French influences. The Spanish colonial style evokes Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles of Spain and Mexico; in the United States it is found in Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California

First Period English (late-Medieval)

First Period is a designation given to building styles used in the earliest English settlements at Jamestown, Virginia (1607) and Plymouth, Massachusetts (1620) and later in the other British colonies along the Eastern seaboard.

These buildings typically included medieval details including steep roofs, small windows (usually due to a scarcity of glass in the colonies), minimal ornamentation and a massive central chimney

French Colonial

Bequette-Ribault House in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri, built 1778, French colonialDeveloped in French-settled areas of North

America beginning with the founding of Quebec in 1608 and New Orleans, Louisiana in 1718, as well as along the Mississippi River valley to Missouri.

The early French Colonial house type of the Mississippi River Valley region was the "poteaux-en-terre", constructed of heavy upright cedar logs set vertically into the ground. These basic houses featured double-pitched hipped roofs and were surrounded by porches (galleries) to handle the hot summer climate.

By 1825, in areas prone to flooding the "raised cottage" was developed with the houses being constructed atop raised brick walls, typically eight feet tall for protection from flood waters. In dry times, the basement remained cool and was used for cooking and storage.

By 1770, the basic French Colonial house form evolved into the "briquette-entre-poteaux" (small bricks between posts) style familiar in the historic areas of New Orleans and other areas. These homes featured double louvered doors, flared hip roofs, dormers and shutters.

Spanish Colonial

Gonzalez-Alvarez House, St. Augustine, Florida, built 1723, Spanish colonialDeveloped with the earlier Spanish settlements in the Caribbean and Mexico, the Spanish Colonial style in the United States can be traced back to St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest established city in the country, founded in 1565. The style would also develop in the Southwest and in California with the founding of the missions by the Spanish between 1769 and 1823.

The early type of dwelling in Spanish Florida was the "board house", a small one-room cottage constructed of pit-sawn softwood boards, typically with a thached roof.

During the 1700s, the "common houses" were covered whitewashed lime mortar with an oyster shell aggregate. Typically two-story, the houses included cooling porches to accommodate the Florida climate.

Dutch Colonial

Developed from around 1630 with the arrival of Dutch colonists to New Amsterdam and the Hudson River Valley in what is now New York. Initially the settlers built small, one room cottages with stone walls and steep roofs to allow a second floor loft. By 1670 or so, two-story gable-end homes were common in New Amsterdam.

In the countryside of the Hudson Valley, the Dutch farmhouse evolved into a linear-plan home with straight-edged gables moved to the end walls. Around 1720, the distinctive gambrel roof was adopted from the English styles, with the addition of overhangs on the front and rear to protect the mud mortar used in the typically stone walls and foundations. 

German Colonial

Developed after about 1675 or so, when the Delaware River Valley area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware) of the United States was settled by immigrants from Sweden, Finland, Scotland, Ireland, Germany (Deutsch) and several other northern European nations. The early colonists to this region adapted the "half-timber" style of construction then popular in Europe, which used a frame of braced timbers filled-in with masonry (brick or stone). However, the colonists modified the method to typically include a first floor of field stones, and a second floor and roof system of timbers or logs. Eventually, field stones became the building material of choice for the entire homes, as they grew from one-room cottages to larger farmhouses.

The "bank house" was a popular form of home during this period, typically constructed into a hillside for protection during the cold winters and hot summers of the region.

The two-story "country townhouse" was also common around Pennsylvania during this time.

Georgian Colonial

(New England and mid-Atlantic Regions) (1720-1780) The defining characteristics of Georgian architecture are its square, symmetrical shape, central door, and straight lines of windows on the first and second floor. There is usually a decorative crown above the door and flattened columns to either side of it. The door leads to an entryway with stairway and hall aligned along the center of the house. All rooms branch off of these. Georgian buildings, in the English manner were ideally in brick, with wood trim, wooden columns and entablatures painted white. In the US, one found both brick buildings as well as those in wood with clapboards. They were usually painted white, though sometimes a pale yellow. This differentiated them from most other structures that were usually not painted.

A Georgian Colonial-style house usually has a formally-defined living room, dining room and sometimes a family room. The bedrooms are typically on the second floor. They also have one or two chimneys that can be very large.

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