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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

Jeffersonian Architecture

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     There is only one United States president to date that was so beloved by his people and such a prominent figure in the construction of his own home that he had an architectural style named after him.  President Thomas Jefferson was given this honor after being extremely involved in designing several different architectural phenomenon.

     The Jeffersonian style is one like no other, though it falls somewhere between the Neo-classical and Neo-Palladianism styles.  The Jeffersonian style never spread overseas like many other styles, and was limited to a few different areas of the U.S., but it made its impact nonetheless.  While several places became famous due to their architect and the purpose behind them, there are dozens more private homes that few people pay any attention to.


     Perhaps the most famous example of this style is President Jefferson’s own personal home, named Monticello.  Monticello is located just outside of Charlottesville, VA, and has become a national landmark.  President Jefferson requested that he be buried on the property, an unusual request at the time (and today), but it was upheld anyway.  He also played a part in getting the Greek Revival Architectural style to gain popularity.

     Thomas Jefferson didn’t have any formal training in architecture or design, like many people originally thought, but his enthusiasm and natural ability made up for it.  He also came up with the design for the educational establishment he helped found, the University of Virginia, as well as that of his home-away-from-home, Poplar Forest.  The only example of Jeffersonian architecture that was built outside of the United States is the Grand Auditorium at Tsinghua Universtiy in Beijing, China.  Many Protestant churches throughout the East coast also exhibit the Jeffersonian style.

Written by antiqueswriter

June 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Empire Style of Architecture

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    The Empire style of architecture is often added on to the end of the Neoclassicism period with a lot of people.  This style took place in the late 19th century and unlike many other styles that focused on the exterior elements of a building, the Empire style was more about furniture, decorative, and visual arts.  The architecture itself still had a part in what makes the style so unique, but on a much smaller scale than with some of the other Neoclassical styles.  In the United States, the Second Empire style usually combined a rectangular tower, or similar element, with a steep, but short, mansard roof; the roof being the most noteworthy link to the style’s French roots. Prior to the construction of The Pentagon during the 1940s, the Second Empire-style Ohio State Asylum for the Insane in Columbus, Ohio was reported to be the largest building under one roof in the U.S., though the title may actually belong to Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.

     The style adopted its name from the first French emperor Napoleon I, and is known as the French Empire style there, but is also known by several different names throughout the United States and Europe.  For instance, many people refer to it as the Regency style in Europe, the Biedermeier style in Germany, and the Federal style in the United States.  While each area put their own general touches and flourishes to make it their own based on their culture, it is all generally the same exact style. The United States was particularly taken by this movement, and continued utilizing it to grace many of its metropolitan buildings long after the European countries had ceased.









Interior elements, such as those pictured above, may also share characteristics with the French Imperial style.

     The style was first influenced, like many other aspects of art, by the ancient Romans.  So much, in fact, that two French architects designed one of the most famous landmarks in France after another very famous one in Rome, Italy.  No, not the Eiffel Tower; the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (pictured below).  When it comes to decorating the homes built in this style the materials preference is generally richer woods, such as mahogany and ebony. Many of these materials were only available in certain parts of the world, making it necessary to have them imported, which made them more expensive.  Bronze gilding was also extremely popular.

The Arc De Triomphe du Carrousel may be the world's most well known example of French Empire Architecture.

Written by antiqueswriter

May 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Where Can I Find It?

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We have heard of several different well-known examples of the Neoclassicism style, but you can find examples in almost any part of the globe.  We’ve mentioned how popular it is in some parts of the world, but haven’t really given you a real idea of how it spread all over the rest of the world.

Many countries adopted this style at the end of later phase.  This phase actually became a sort of subcategory of Neoclassicism, inspired by etchings and engravings.  This style came to become known as the Greek Revival period.  In fact, it became so popular that by the mid 19th century several cities in Europe were almost overrun with examples of the architecture, cities such as Athens, Berlin, Munich, and St. Petersburg.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this style became extremely popular in the United States, and was nicknamed “Federal Architecture”.  One of the most significant facts about this style in America is that many of the buildings that have become famous examples were created and designed by who is considered to be the first professional American architect, Benjamin Harry Latrobe, who happened to have been born in Great Britain.  Many other architects became inspired by the influence and style of Latrobe, and went on to create such buildings as the National Gallery, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Roosevelt Memorial. Federal architecture features fanlights over doors (almost always rounded, rarely squared). Other features include Classical/Greek detailing of entryways, Palladian windows, as well as circular or oval rooms (the Oval Office) in high-style examples. Other famous examples include St. Stephens Church in Boston, Massachusetts and the White House.  Federal Architecture is also known as Adam-style architecture.

Some other locations around the world that embraced the Neoclassicism style are the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, otherwise known as the Soviet Union.  Like many other buildings in the Soviet Union, the tendency to over decorate their buildings and their elaborate styles, earning them the nickname of ‘wedding cake architecture’.  However, this unique quality has also made them some of the most famous buildings in the world. Wedding-cake architecture is typically found within Stalinist architecture

Stalin’s Seven Sisters” is the nickname given to a group of skyscrapers built in the Stalinist style of architecture, which is also known as a “wedding cake” style because of the skyscrapers’ tiered construction. Russia’s Seven Sisters reside in Moscow. Buildings in other countries formerly belonging to the Soviet Union also exemplify the style Stalin’s Seven Sisters are famous for.  American buildings such as Radio City Music Hall, The GE Building, The New Yorker and the Waldorf-Astoria are all examples of wedding-cake architecture, using many layers to construct a large building.

Written by antiqueswriter

May 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Highlights of Neo-Renaissance Architecture

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The Renaissance Revival period, sometimes called the Neo-Renaissance, is really a more generic term used to describe nearly all of the architectural styles used in the 19th century that were not Greek or Gothic in style.  Those two were better classified as the Greek Revival or Gothic Revival, respectively. The styles that are categorized as such are strongly influenced by various Italian styles.

The Neo-Renaissance started in the 19th century, and started nearly simultaneously in both the United States and England.  Instead of adhering to the strict guidelines that were set in place by the strict Italian influences of the 16th century, they allowed themselves o borrow features from other styles,  as well as the Flemish and French Renaissance periods.  While this does allow for more freedom of expression in architecture, it also caused, and causes, a lot of confusion when it comes to classifying different buildings as Neo-Renaissance.  Many times, these buildings and architectural wonders are categorized as Neo-Renaissance with influence by Gothic, French and Baroque designs.

Despite the fact that many aspects of the style already existed in some form, the Neo-Renaissance didn’t appear suddenly.  It actually took quite some time before people really took notice of all of the remarkable buildings that were popping up all over the place.  One of the first buildings to come about was the Wurzburg Women’s Prison, which had heavy Egyptian influence, as well as influence from American architects.

Some of the most decorated and famous buildings across the world were developed during the Neo-Renaissance, many of them prominent structures, including opera houses, government buildings, and universities.   Many of the other styles spread from England to North America and Australia and not too many other places in between, this style can be seen just as prominently in countries such as Hungary, Russia, and Germany.

The Neo-Renaissance style was in reality an eclectic blending of past styles, which the architect selected on the whims of his patrons

Written by antiqueswriter

May 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Jacobethan Architecture

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Another subcategory of Victorian is the Jacobethan architectural style. The name came around long after the style reached its height of popularity.  The name was coined in the 1930’s by John Betjemen, and may sometimes be referred to as Jacobean Revival.  The Jacobethan style is a combination of the Jacobean style and its predecessor the Elizabethan style.  The name stuck, and this is primarily how the style is now known.

The main details that exist in the Jacobean style include cusped Tudor arches, details carved into brick, steep roof gables, stone trim around doors and windows lighter than the rest of the home, porches supported by pillars, and high chimneys.  Terra-cotta brickwork can also be seen on some of the buildings.


This architectural style is found primarily around England, having never really traveled outside of the country.  There are several prominent U.K. landmarks that are wonderful examples, including Harlaxton Manor in Linconshire, Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, and Sandringham House in Norfolk.

Another very well-known building in England that has its roots in the Jacobean style is none other than the Houses of Parliament building.  There was a competition to see who could come up with the best Gothic or Elizabethan style for the new building, and of the nearly one hundred designs that were submitted only six of them were truly Elizabethan in style.  The rest were a combination of Gothic, Jacobean, or another style altogether.

It wasn’t until much later, the beginning of the 20th century in fact, that the Jacobean style made its way across the ocean into and into North America.  While the architectural structures never really caught on over there like they did in the U.K., there are still a few examples scattered throughout the United States and Canada that have the influence, as well as some of the government buildings in Australia.

Written by antiqueswriter

May 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Georgian Architecture in the United States (1720-1840)

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Georgian Roped Push Plate

Georgian Roped Push Plate

The Georgian architectural style became popular during the late eighteenth through the mid nineteenth century and it replaced the Baroque architecture that had been popular up to that point. It is a general term for many common themes that were occurring around the world at that time and was named after the English monarchs George I-IV.

One of the most prominent features of Georgian architecture is its focus on proportion and balance. Math was used to determine correct size and placement of windows and other adornments on the building. Symmetry was very important when designing a Georgian style building and a Georgian addition to an earlier architectural style was considered extremely unattractive and flawed. Much of the inspiration for Georgian buildings was derived from Roman and Greek architecture and buildings were traditionally constructed of stone or brick over other materials.

In the United States the principles of Georgian style architecture were combined with neo-Palladian style architecture which created a “Federal Style”. It was used most frequently in middle and upper class homes. Several examples of the influence of Georgian architecture can still be seen today in the United States.

Georgian architecture was replaced slowly with a series of revival movements. Georgian architecture was itself revived and this new style was referred to as “Colonial revival”. Today Georgian style architecture is most frequently used for residential construction only and most commercial properties have abandoned this style completely.

LookInTheAttic & Company offers a wide variety of Georgian and Colonial style hardware and they offer free design assistance and help. Look for balanced and symmetrical patterns and solid brass construction to ensure high quality and durability. The Georgian architectural style is a wonderful theme for any home because it offers a wide variety of patterns that can be introduced inside the home and out.

Written by miznomerz

November 20, 2009 at 7:46 pm