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Posts Tagged ‘Italianate

Second Empire Architecture

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     The Second Empire architectural style was named after the French-inspired elements that appeared during the Second French Empire.  The style was at the height of its popularity between 1865 and 1880, and while it was most popular in the United States, a variation can be seen in parts of France where it is called the Napoleon III Style.  The Second Empire style has many elements specific to this time period, but, just like with any other style, some of the elements were influenced by other architectural time periods, like the Gothic Revival and Italianate styles.

     In the United States, the style tends to be portrayed through rectangular towers with a steep mansard roof, which is the most typical of the French style from which it was derived.   Most often, these roof crests have an iron trim, and sometimes they also have decorative lightening rods attached.  The façade of the home is generally composed of wood, brick, or stone, and may also have paired columns.  Most of the floor plans for Second Empire houses fit one of two styles: symmetrical with the tower in the middle or asymmetrical with the tower off to one side.  Just like many things French, the more elaborately decorated and expensive-looking the better!

     While there are a multitude of homes that were constructed in this style during the height of popularity, and most are still standing, the majority of the more well-known buildings are commercial properties, or government ones.  In fact, so many government buildings were constructed during President Grant’s time in office that they were actually said to be created in the “General Grant Style”, rather than the Second Empire.  The reason that so many large buildings were constructed in the Second Empire style is due to the versatility of their size.



Written by antiqueswriter

June 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

Italianate Architecture in the United States

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     The Italianate style holds a specific place within the 19th century Classical style.  Just like many other architectural styles, this one developed within a much larger style, yet has such distinct features and decorative elements it is in a class all its own.  The basis of this style is 16th century Italian Renaissance, but many buildings and monuments built under this style also exhibit Palladianism and NeoClassicism.  Because of this, the Italianate style is also sometimes called the Neo-Renaissance style.

     This style started at the very beginning of the 19th century in Great Britain by the British architect John Nash.  His first project in this style was a small country house in a small village in the West Midlands portion of the country.   This was possible by adopting certain aspects of both the Regency and Victorian styles.  Nash passed the torch to another British architect in the 1830’s, Sir Charles Berry.  Some of Berry’s creations had such a uniqueness of their own that they have been dubbed “Berryesque”.  Many of these buildings incorporated less of the Palladian style an more of an Italian Renaissance feel despite the overall rustic look of most of Nash’s buildings.

     Like many other architectural styles that originated in the United Kingdom, the Italianate style quickly spread throughout Europe and parts of the globe.  Around the same time that Nash was making a name for himself the Italianate style was making a name in the United States.  From 1840 to the 1890’s is when it was at the height of popularity, and was promoted primarily by architect Alexander Jackson Davis.

     The United States used the style mostly to build houses, and unfortunately few of them still stand today.  The oldest example of this style is the home of a former governor of North Carolina John Motley Morehead.  This home is located in Greensboro, North Carolina.  The popularity of Italianate architecture in the time period following 1845 can be seen in Cincinnati, Ohio, the United States’ first boomtown west of the Appalachian Mountains. This city, which grew along with the traffic on the Ohio River, features arguably the largest single collection of Italianate buildings in the United States in its Over-the-Rhine neighbourhood, built primarily by German-American immigrants that lived in the densely populated area.

Cincinnati Over The Rhine

Written by antiqueswriter

June 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Italianate Architecture in Europe and Australia

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John Nash made a huge name for himself all throughout England and Wales when it came to designing new Italianate structures.  Heavily influenced by Italian villas, he made this feature the primary focus of the majority of his buildings.  This helps to distinguish his style from many of the other architects that made the Italianate style their own.  Perhaps one of the reasons Nash became so popular is because he took so long to truly develop his own style.  Many of his earlier pieces were a mish mash of other architects interpretations of the Italianate style, never having anything particularly characteristic of himself.

Some other architects dabbled in this style as well, despite having already made a name for themselves in other styles.  One perfect example of this is Sir Charles Berry, who had made his name known for creating the House of Parliament building that we know today.  Some of the more popular points of Italianate architecture were series of columns and arches decorating the front of the buildings, exemplary of the Italian Renaissance style, and an abundance of balconies accented by wrought iron and stone.

The Italianate style was also very popular in Australia, specifically for homes of governors.  One very significant feature of the Australian architecture is its use of white and ivory for the exterior of the buildings.  This gives them a much cleaner look, while giving a nod to its ancient influences.

The interior design aspect of Italianate style features clean lines and everything built in.  That is to say instead of creating basic rooms with little to no decoration and having to adhere it separately, everything is incorporated during the building process.  Wood is not varnished or painted, but is displayed in its natural colors, there are no mitered corners.  Furniture features straight, clean lines, and is strong in style.

Written by antiqueswriter

May 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm