From the early colonials direct from England to the varied home styles of today, New England has a varied landscape of residences that memorialize the builders, the owners and the times in which they were built.
From left to right: Jackson House – 1664; Mulford House - 1680; Nathan Wade House – 1751*
Functional: Colonial Style
When the first British settlers came to North America in the 1500s and 1600s, they brought with them the traditions of house-building from their home country. The few original colonial houses we can see dotting the landscape in New England today show the main features: one or two-story building with low ceilings, a steep roof with ridge side facing the street, narrow eaves and a large chimney at the center of the house. Those that have been maintained with their original features have narrow clapboard or shingles. small casement windows – some with diamond-shaped panes – and the exterior in general shows little ornamentation.
Many of the early colonials in Connecticut are stained with the dark red stain used in earlier times.
Renaissance interpretation: Georgian Style
Also known as Georgian Colonial, houses designed originally in England during the reigns of King George I through IV, were copied in New England. The English interpretation of renaissance architecture manifested itself in symmetry, the prominence of the front door and in detailing – often copying stone detailing in wood. Roof slopes became shallower, a pattern of 5 windows on the facade became the norm and pilasters and a pediment over the front door strengthened its presence at the center of the house. Doors were now paneled, larger window panes now possible with greater technology were arranged in 9 over 9 or 12 over 12 panes.Chimneys were now paired at each side of the house and more detail on the exterior was visible – dental molding along the eaves, thicker window trim and sills.
This period style can further be divided into low, middle and late Georgian (or Federal) style, where the elements became more and more elaborate.
From left to right: Captain Francis West House – 1834; Russel House; “House” – 1833
A return to the Classical: Greek Revival
In the early 1800s, public buildings in Philadelphia and elsewhere, were being designed with the inspiration of Greek temples, thought to be the embodiment of Democracy. Soon most public or private buildings were being built with some elements of Greek Revival. In New England homes, the immediate change was that the gable side of the building now faced the street. A low-pitched gable rested on columns and the entrance was often moved to the side, so as to create a parlor at the front of the house. In some cases, true classical columns and all the elements of classical proportioning and detailing were used. Elsewhere, square columns or pilasters were used, creating a more relaxed style.
Many of the stately inns of Vermont and New Hampshire were built in this style.
*All images from The Abrams Guide to American House Styles by William Morgan, Photography by Radek Kurzaj
Read about a specific house right in our neighborhood: The Whitfield House in Guilford, Connecticut.
Tags: Captain Francis West House, Colonial, Colonial Style House, Connecticut Architecture, French's Tavern, Georgian Style, Guilford Connecticut, Historic Homes, Historical Home Series, Jackson House, Joseph Jenckes, Karin Patriquin, Mulford House, Nathan Wade House, New England Historic Homes, New Hampshire Architecture, New Haven Architect, New York Architecture, Rhode Island Architecture, Russel House, The Whitfield House, Wentworth Gardner House