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American Architecture

American Architecture

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Published by ChrisWhittle
A history of the American patriotic architectural style
A history of the American patriotic architectural style

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Published by: ChrisWhittle on Mar 12, 2012
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 Whittle 1Christopher R. WhittleProfessor Mike Gormley ENG 101: English Compostition and Literature IFINAL, December 20, 2010
Classical Architecture is Officially American
Every American dreams of purchasing a new home for his family, no matter how old or young, rich or poor, big or small. This was the belief of landscape architect
 Andrew Jackson Downing, who in the 1840‟s believed that all Americans had access to
morally-straight and beautiful homeownership (American Eras). Similar beliefs are held by many Americans today, whether or not they wish to transact in the city or country,suburbs or outskirts. But the common denominator in all of this is that chances are thedomicile purchased will have traditional mouldings and trimmings on the exterior andinterior, the shades or tints of red, white, and blue somewhere (Morrison 295), and
constructed with the “half 
-
timbered” technique
(Mendelowitz 68). Roofing is gabled, thefront door is decorative, and the windows are double-hung with shutters to both sidesper window (Anderson Ctr. 3). Chances are there is a brick chimney built-in to thestructure (
Columbia Encyclopedia
1), or a columned entryway on the front portico(Anderson Ctr. 1). A layperson generally does not know specific styles of art, architecture, or interiordesign or decoration, but the elements prescribed here are variants of Classicism.Chances are an American would purchase such residence because the classical styles of architecture resemble the image of the United States of America.
 
 Whittle 2Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, to date has been theonly architect to win the White House, which was designed by Irishman James Hobsonof Kilkenny, based on Leinster House, which is home to the Dail Eireanu (IrishParliament) (Sweeney).
He was the owner of “three copies of [Andrea] Palladio‟s books”,
and applied his tastes into the plans of Monticello and the original buildings of theUniversity of Virginia (LaChiusa). Along with George Washington, Jefferson took architecture very seriously (
Columbia Encyclopedia
2), and both were inspired by Sir
Christopher Wren‟s London Reconstruction Plan as a model for the new national capital
(Morrison 281).
Pierre Charles L‟Enfant, a French born civil engineer, was hired by 
President Washington to design his namesake city in the District of Columbia, based onthe school of Wren (Aikman 17).
Jefferson coined his own work “Classicism” after
diplomating in France, with the inspiration of the Parisan Greek Revival, which of most were actually based on Palladian thoughts. The federal government followed suit(Glancey).
This style, called Jeffersonian Classicism, was a variant of “Roman”, popular
from 1770-1830 (Foster 228).However, Jeffersonian Classicism was not the sole variant of Roman during thefoundation of our nation. Massachusetts architects Charles Bulfinch of Boston andSamuel McIntire of Salem were the most popular practitioners of the Adamesque, orFederal Style, attributed from the Georgian styles of Scottish architect and furnituredesigner Robert Adam and his brothers (
Columbia Encyclopedia
2). The term
“Georgian” comes from the style of houses that were built during the reign of the first
four Georges on the B
ritish throne, hence the “Colonial Georgian” designation
(Mendelowitz 70).
This evolved into the “American Federalist”
(Craven) style after the American Revolutionary War (Anderson Ctr. 1). The Federal Period overlapped the
 
 Whittle 3Classical Period, lasting from 1875-1820 (Mendelowitz 189). Its Georgian origins in thecolonies make the use of brick as the chief building material, visible from the exterior, were have said to have begun in Virginia (Morrison 140)
, “the wealthiest and most
architecturally advanced of 
the colonies”
(Mendelowitz 121).Colonial Georgian began to appear around 1700 in seaport cities like Boston,Newport, Philadelphia, Williamsburg, and Charleston (Morrison 4). This was preceded
 by the “cottages” made at Jamestown, Plymouth, and Salem during the early 1600‟s
(Mendelowitz 66), which were remnants of the Gothic homes back in England, albeit ina destructive and naked form:In truth Colonial architecture was entirely traditional, andalmost entirely unprogressive. Structurally and aesthetically,it was the late English Gothic transplanted to a new anddifferent climate (Morrison 96). Alan Gowans also explains: American folk art collectively embodies a medieval tradition which formed on the first common stratum of civilization of  America. But on the other side, this folk art belongs, too, tothe particular histories of differing cultures [which]transplanted from the Old to the New World (16).Influenced by the work of Britons Inigo Jones, Sir Christopher Wren, and James Gibbs,architecture began to form like the mother country, with the colonists paying tribute toKing George I (Mendelowitz 107). Motifs of the English court were Renaissance andBaroque architecture, where Jones, Wren, and Gibbs designed from Roman(Mendelowitz 93). Hugh Morrison explains that:The exterior of [St. Martin-in-the-Fields] approaches theideal of the classical temple shape, with a full portico of columns rising from steps to a pediment fronting the mainroof slope. The tower [has] a square story embellished by arches and pilasters, classic urns, clock faces under curvedcornices, and a small octagonal story carrying the spire. The

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