Monday, April 16, 2007

Gimme Some Of That Old-Time Pagan Religion

Isn't it Romantic?
Actually, technically it isn't. It's really just Adam style colonial. Nice. That one's in Vermont. It's the only exuberant thing there, maybe. Chastely exuberant.

But we want Early Classical Revival today. The thing that replaced colonial style. Think Roman. Our Founding Fathers did. Especially that Jefferson fellow. Architecture was an amateur thing, and he was the patron saint of getting old design books like Palladio's Four Books Of Architecture and grabbing stuff out of there. I still grab stuff out of that book. They thought the freshly minted United States needed something that bespoke an important civilization. Rome seemed to fit. There were classical elements all over the preceding colonial styles, but they were little bits and pieces added on. Early Classical Revival was the whole design, and wasn't shy about it.
Of course Jefferson's own home is a signature example: Monticello. The place shown above is a great example, too. Sabine Hall in Warsaw, Virginia. It's got what looks like a systyle full height Roman temple rammed right into the facade. Systyle means you the gap between the columns is two column widths. The house was older, 1730, but they later lowered the roof and gave it the signature portico and gable front and wings so common to the type. It's a southern style, really, very rare North of Philadelphia. The crib notes version to delineate Early Classical Revival from the Greek Revival that followed it and overlapped with it is this : if it looks like Elvis and Nero had a Bed and Breakfast together, that's probably it.

It's post-revolutionary Republican monumental architecture. It lasted until about 1820, when the newspapers were full of stories of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, and people got all hopped up on Plato and Socrates and that hopeless dead Romantic Lord Byron and decided their houses should look more like this:
Isn't it Romantic? Yes, that one is.


Ruth Anne Adams said...


Anonymous said...

I'm learning more here than I ever did pursuing a degree in architectural drafting.

Oh, been meaning to ask, what's the story about that bench in your Sippican Cottage Furniture graphic on the right sidebar? I'm sure there's a story there...
-Deb in Madison

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Ruth Anne.

Hi Deb- That's Harry Longbaugh's Bench. I'll put the story of it on the blog tomorrow.

Internet Ronin said...

Yes, that last one is great. Almost bought something quite similar once. If I have time this week, I will post a shot of my former abode, a 1920's Dutch Colonial Revival. I think you will like the porch (at least, I hope you will - I sure did!).

That will harken back to your commentary on porches, so I will scout around for a good photo or two of my other houses: the one with the miniscule after-thought entry and the "Let's impress the neighbors" one I'm in now. Truth be known, I really like the porch for my current abode, although I do wish the columns were a tad further from the house, and the overhang at the end as in the original model and not like it ended up on my version.

SippicanCottage said...

The 1920s was an especially fertile time in American residential architecture. America built a lot of very small houses then that were very liveable between WW1 and the depression.

Yes, let's see pictures of your porch!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you know where I can find any of these old houses' floor plans.
They are amazing.
Please e-mail me at