This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950

PA Architecture Federal Style 1780 -1820

Identifiable Features

1.  Symmetrical form and fenestration
2.  Elliptical fan light over paneled front door
3.  Side lights flanking front door
4.  Classical details, similar to the Georgian style, but more delicate in size and scale
5.  Flat lintels over windows, often with bull’s eye corners
6.  Cornice with decorative moldings, often dentils
7.  Low pitched side-gable or hipped roof
8.  Double hung windows with thin muntins separating the panes (6 panes over 6 most common)
9.  Decorative front door crown or entry porch
10.  Tripart or Palladian window
11.  Curving or polygonal projections

federal_style

The Federal style is also known as the Adam style, after the Adam brothers, British architects who developed this style in England. It is really a refinement of the Georgian style, which was popular in the years preceding the Federal style. Like the Georgian style, the Federal style is designed around center hall floor plan, or side hall for narrow row houses.  The Federal style has many of the same elements of the Georgian style—symmetry, classical details and a side gabled roof—yet it is different in its ornamentation and sophistication. Federal details are more delicate, slender and finely drawn than their Georgian counterparts and may feature swags, garlands and urns. Also, more formal elements were introduced in the Federal style, such as the front door fanlight window, sometimes with flanking sidelights, and more elaborate door surrounds and porticos. The Federal style is also known for dramatic windows, three-part or Palladian windows with curved arches. Another outstanding—yet less common—Federal feature is the use of curving or polygonal window projections.

The Federal style became popular throughout the colonies after the American Revolution and was dominant until about 1820, when it was supplanted by the Greek or Classical Revival Style. The easiest way to identify a Federal style building from a Georgian one is to look for the elliptical fan light over the front door or the Palladian windows—not that those design features do not appear in later styles as well. The Federal house in Pennsylvania is usually a brick two or three story building.

This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950

PA Architecture Late Victorian Period 1850 – 1910

The Late Victorian Period covers the later half of the 19th century, for a portion of the true reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria (1837-1901) for which this era is named. This was the time period in American architecture known for intricate and highly decorative styles such as the Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne, Stick/Eastlake, Shingle, Renaissance Revival and Chateauesque. All of these style are often described as “Victorian” and indeed may buildings of this era borrowed stylistic elements from several styles, and were not pure examples of any.

The Late Victorian Period was a time of growth and change in America. Advances in building technology such as the development of balloon framing and factory-built architectural components made it easier to build larger, more complex and more decorative structures. The expanding railroad system allowed these products to be transported across the country at a more reasonable cost. Heretofore luxury elements could be employed in a wide variety of more modest buildings. It was an expansive time in American culture and the buildings of this period reflect this. Most Victorian styles look to historic precedents for inspiration, but the architectural designs of the era were not exact replicas of those earlier buildings. The tall, steeply roofed, asymmetrical form of Victorian era buildings is based on a Medieval prototype, with a variety of stylistic details applied. Elements of the Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, and Italianate styles continued to appear, but often in a more complex form, in combination with one another. New stylistic trends like the Second Empire style, Queen Anne style, Stick/Eastlake style, Romanesque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Chateauesque style, borrowed from those previous styles, but offered new shapes, forms and combinations of decorative features.

 

Every May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation picks a new theme for their National Preservation Month.  This year, they’ve built it around: “See! Save! Celebrate!” to encourage us to see our historic places, save the threatened ones, and celebrate the vital role they play in our communities.

To support that goal, we’re going to do a three-part blog series with each post focusing on one aspect of the theme.  First we’re going to focus on “See!” since Pennsylvania’s historical architecture is certainly worth seeing.

 

Traditional/Vernacular Architecture 1638 – 1950

Traditional/Vernacular Architecture 1638 – 1950

Photo by PA Historical & Museum Commission

–  Form and design derived from commonly shared construction tradition
–  Not architect or pattern book design
–  Reflect the ethnic or regional heritage and cultural traditions of the builders
–  Usually strictly utilitarian built from affordable, readily available materials

 

 

Georgian Architecture 1640 – 1800

–  Symmetrical form and fenestration
–  Multi-pane windows (6-20 panes in each sash)
–  Side-gabled or hipped roof
–  Stone or brick walls
–  Transom window over paneled front door
–  Pediment or crown and pilasters at front entry
–  Cornice with dentils
–  Water table or belt course
–  Corner quoins

More information about the Georgian Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

 

Federal Style 1780 – 1820

–  Symmetrical form and fenestration
–  Elliptical fan light over paneled front door
–  Classical details, delicate in size and scale
–  Flat lintels, often with bull’s eye corners
–  Cornice with decorative moldings, often dentils
–  Low pitched side-gable or hipped roof
–  Double hung 6-over-6 windows with thin muntins
–  Decorative front door crown or entry porch
–  Tripart or Palladian window
–  Curving or polygonal projections

More information about the Federal Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

Greek Revival 1820 – 1860

 
–  
Front gabled roof
–  
Front porch  with columns
–  
Front facade corner pilasters
–  
Broad cornice
–  Attic or frieze level windows

 

 

More information about the Greek Revival Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

 

Gothic Revival Style 1830 – 1860

historic building preservation

Photo by PA Historical & Museum Commission

–  Pointed arches as decorative element and as window shape
–  Front facing gables with decorative incised trim
–  Porches with turned posts or columns
–  Steeply pitched roof
–  Gables often topped with finials or crossbracing
–  Decorative crowns over windows and doors
–  Castle-like towers with parapets on some buildings
–  Carpenter Gothic buildings have distinctive board and batten vertical siding

 

More information about the Gothic Revival Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

 

Exotic Revival Style 1830 – 1850

victorian architecture

Synagogue in Philadelphia

 

Egyptian Revival Style
–  
Massive columns resembling bundles of sticks
–  
Vulture & sun disk symbol
–  
Rolled (cavetto) cornice
–  Window enframements that narrow upward

Moorish or Oriental Revival Style
–  
Ogee (pointed) arch
–  
Complex and intricate details with a Middle Eastern or Oriental theme
–  
Recessed porches
–  
Onion dome or minaret
–  Mosaic tile trim

Swiss Chalet Revival Style
–  
Front facing projecting gable with wooden cut out trim
–  
Second floor porch with cut out balustrade and trim
–  
Patterned stickwork on exterior walls
–  Low pitched roof with wide overhanging eaves

More information about these styles is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

Italianate Villa/Italianate Style 1840 – 1885

architectural preservation

Photo by PA Historical & Museum Commission

 –  Cornice with decorative brackets
–  Widely overhanging eaves
–  
Two or three stories in height
–  
Tall, narrow windows
–  
Curved (segmental) arches over windows or doors
–  
Elaborate window crowns
–  
Single story porches, full width or entry porticos
–  
Low pitched roof
–  
Cupola or square tower with bracketed cornice
–  Quoins

More information about the Italianate Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

 

Romanesque Revival Style 1840 – 1900

historic wood windows

Photo by PA Historical & Museum Commission

 

–  Masonry construction
–  Round arches at entrance windows
–  Heavy and massive appearance
–  Polychromatic stonework on details
–  Round tower
–  Squat columns
–  Decorative plaques

 

More information about the Romanesque Revival Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

 

Queen Anne Style 1880 – 1910

–  Abundance of decorative elements
–  Steeply pitched roof with irregular shape
–  Cross gables
–  Asymmetrical facade
–  Large partial or full width porch
–  Round or polygonal corner tower
–  Decorative spindlework on porches and gable trim
–  Projecting bay windows
–  Patterned masonry or textured wall surfaces
–  Columns or turned post porch supports
–  Patterned shingles
–  Single pane windows, some with small decorative panes or stained glass

More information about the Queen Anne Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

 

Tudor Revival Style 1890 – 1920

Tudor Revival Style 1890 – 1920

Photo by PA Historical & Museum Commission

–  Steeply pitched roof
–  Cross gables
–  Decorative half-timbering
–  Prominent chimneys
–  Narrow multi-pane windows
–  Entry porches or gabled entry
–  Patterned stonework or brickwork
–  Overhanging gables or second stories
–  Parapeted or Flemish gable

 

More information about the Tudor Revival Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.

 

Bungalow/Craftsman Style 1900 – 1930

–  One or two stories high
–  Overhanging eaves with exposed rafters or braces
–  Front-facing gables
–  Multi-pane windows
–  Low-pitched gable or hipped roof
–  Full or partial front porch with columns
–  Prominent gabled or shed roofed dormers

 

 

More information about the Bungalow/Craftsman Style is available in this section of the Pennsylvania Architectural Field Guide.