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Colonial Revival Architecture

Ward Watson Mansion c. 1910 3384 Sq. Ft. Charlestown, Indiana House, 1940 6380 Sq. Ft. indianapolis, IN Westbury House 1907 old westbury, NY
2410 Avenue L, Galveston, Texas.   Colonial Revival home of Henry M. Jackson in Everett, Washington
     
 
The Colonial Revival was a nationalistic architectural style and interior design movement in the United States.

In the early 1890s Americans began to value their own heritage and architecture. This also came after the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 rewakened Americans to their colonial past. Colonial Revival sought to follow the Colonial style of the period around the Revolutionary War, usually being two stories in height with the ridge pole running parallel to the street, a symmetrical front facade with an accented doorway and evenly spaced windows on either side of it.

The books and atmospheric photographs of Wallace Nutting helped spur the style.

Features that make them distinguishable from colonial period houses of the similar style of the early 1800s are elaborate front doors, often with decorative crown pediments and overhead fanlights and sidelights, but with machine-made woodwork that had less depth and relief than earlier handmade versions. Window openings, while symmetrically located on either side of the front entrance, were usually hung in adjacent pairs or in triple combinations rather than as single windows. Side porches or sunrooms were common additions to these homes, introducing modern comforts. Also distinctive in this style are multiple columned porches and doors with fanlights and sidelights. To go along with the Colonial Revival style of architecture, owners often seek to furnish the house with furnishings that are preferably antique but often are reproductions.

Three localities that feature larger neighborhood tracts of colonial revival style residences are the Windsor Farms area in the west end of Richmond, Virginia; the Country Club District of Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis; and the Country Club District in Kansas City, Missouri, a residential district lying south and built around the former grounds of the Kansas City Country Club (now Loose Park), and which the J. C. Nichols Company began developing in 1906 to become what is now the largest master-planned community in the United States. All were built in the 1920s.

Successive waves of revivals of British colonial architecture have swept the United States since 1876. In the 19th century, the Colonial Revival took a more eclectic style, and columns were often seen. But with the popularity of research-based history attractions like Colonial Williamsburg in the 1930s, the subsequent "colonial" architecture took a more scholarly and less ostentatious turn, and columns fell out of favor. By the 1976 United States Bicentennial, Colonial architecture merged with the then popular ranch-style house design, and created yet another iteration of the Colonial Revival, one that often featured eagle, cannon or drum motifs and sometimes wooden shake roofs. In the early part of the 21st century, styles evolved again, with "colonial" in the United States suggesting a more Anglo-Caribbean or British Empire feel.

In California and the American Southwest, revival architecture looked back to Spanish, rather than Georgian prototypes.
 


Colonial Revival 1876-1955


This style became popular when it was showcased at the 1876 US Centennial Exposition. It is very similar to the Georgian and Federal styles, with a symmetrical front elevation, that emphasizes the front entrance, with a portico (a covered porch supported by columns), and with fanlights, sidelights, and transom around a paneled front door. Windows tend to be multi-pane, and double hung, and are accented with shutters. Colonial Revival is a clear reaction to the lavish Victorian styles, and was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Colonial Revival houses usually have many of these features:
Rectangular shapes
2 or 3 stories
Symmetrical façades
Formal entrances: porticoes topped by a pediment
Paneled doors with sidelights, topped with transoms or fanlights
Brick or wood siding
Simple, classical detailing
Gable roofs
Pillars and columns
Multi-pane, double-hung windows with shutters
Dormers
Center entry-hall floor plan
Living areas on the first floor; bedrooms on the upper floors
Fireplaces

Special thanks to www.therealgalveston.com