New England Architecture

The following is the second in a series of articles (some to follow) about historical architectural designs of New England, appearing in our Newsletters and/or Blogs. Please look for articles on First Period & Early New England Colonial (Approximately 1600-1780), Federal (Approximately 1780-1825), Greek Revival (Approximately 1825-1860), Gothic Revival (Approximately 1840-1880), Italianate (Approximately 1840-1885), Second Empire (Approximately 1855-1885), Stick (Approximately 1860-1890), Queen Anne (Approximately 1880-1910), Shingle (Approximately 1880-1900), Colonial Revival (Approximately 1880-1955) and Tudor (Approximately 1890-1940).

Georgian (Approximately 1700-1780)

By Cheri Hardiman, CEO Old New England Restoration, Inc.

new england architecture

Georgian architecture was a very popular style in New England for much of the 1700’s. It’s principals remain widely used today. The style was fashioned after Italian architecture and adopted English features. Features of the original colonial building style can also be seen in the architectural style. It’s name was derived from the King George’s of England and was formally named “Georgian” in about 1715.

Most original Georgians, in the colonies, took on a simple look. Houses were built with wood frames and were sided with clapboards or shingles. Foundations were raised in this style. Original homes were of complete symmetry. Homes could be one story but were usually two. Regardless, they were rectangular in shape and were two rooms deep. Roofs were either side gable, hip or gambrel. Earlier homes had center chimneys. Main entrance doors were central and sometimes paneled. Windows were aligned vertically and horizontally with double hung sashes and panels were separated with heavy wood. Ceilings were usually ten to eleven feet high. Hall and staircases were centralized as well.

By the later 1700’s, Georgians were seen as symbols of affluence. While later Georgians could be easily recognized, perfectly symmetry was not always the case. Higher style versions may have included multiple (paired) chimneys, added masonry and stone, roof balustrades, decorative cornice work, ornate crowns, flanked doors with windows on either side, pediment dormers and windows, and two-story pilasters. Once inside, at least, equally detailed touches could be revealed in moldings, staircases, arched openings, mantel pieces, lights added to windows and general decor.

Today, the majority of original Georgians in New England can be found in or near Newport RI and Portsmouth NH; however, many were not built until the 19th century. The center picture above represents a restoration of the Johnathan Cutler Homestead, in Holliston, MA restored by Old New England Restoration, Inc. in 2008.

Sources Cited: Historical New England; Building History and About Home

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