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Buildings to Know in American Architecture – English settlement and the Rise of Georgian Stratford Hall, Virginia; 1737-40 The formal “H” shape plan both carries on with a Tudor building tradition and looks forward to the Georgian symmetry of the 18th century. The arrangement of the house is still based on rooms leading off of rooms and exterior stairs but the arrangement of the grounds with the house strictly centered in the midst of designed outbuildings intended to compliment the big house is fully Palladian. Williamsburg Governor’s Palace, Williamsburg, Virginia; built 1706-10, destroyed 1781, rebuilt 1935 An early American example of the symmetrical Palladian-inspired architecture promoted in England by Inigo Jones. The high hipped roof and symmetrical façade reflect fashionable building in England. This was the largest and most ornate of buildings known to have been constructed in the British colonies to that date; by the time of its destruction by fire it was considered old-fashioned and uncomfortable. Adam Thoroughgood House, Virginia, ca. 1725 It is a carefully crafted brick house using the traditional “cottage” form found in countless English and American colonial building, but executed in a fine material. It is an expression of prosperity in Virginia some 100 years after first settlement, but it also reflects a lack of knowledge of the advancement in floor plans and interior arrangements made in England during that time. Adam Keeling House, Newport, Virginia, ca. 1730s Along with the Adam Thoroughgood house and a cluster of others in Princess Anne County, Virginia, the Keeling House demonstrates the use of brick in a modest house form. The interior is divided into a hall with staircase, separating two main rooms on the first floor. The refinement of the floorplan is more sophisticated than the contemporary, but much grander Stratford Hall, showing the incremental and irregular adoption of Palladian ideals of exterior symmetry and controlled circulation within a house. Abel and Mary Nicholson House, Salem, New Jersey, 1722 An outstanding example of a distinctive American vernacular house form developed in southern NJ and along the Delmarva Peninsula. It is the tall, narrow, one-room deep house type known as an “I” house. Although located in rural settings, the end gable walls are left windowless and used for expressive patterns of brickwork, often incorporating the initials of the husband and wife who built the house and the date of its construction. It is a powerful form of “ownership”, marking the house and all the land, as the house is visible in these flat agricultural landscapes for some distance. Hancock House, Salem County, New Jersey, 1734 Another patterned end brick house, notable for the “diaper” or diamond pattern on its sides that is, perhaps unconsciously, a replication of the Tudor-era designs at Hampton Court Palace. St Luke’s Church, Virginia, 1732 A brick English parish church, mostly Gothic in its conception, but with the addition of a small pediment at the front tower, indicating a new awareness in the colonies of the English interest in Classical architecture. “Old Ship” Meetinghouse, Hingham, Massachusetts, 1681, remodeled 1750s, restored 20th century The oldest continually used house of worship in America? Its heavy timber construction demonstrates the transmission of English timber-building technology and skills, particularly to the New England colonies. The meetinghouse is the “invention” of the religious dissidents who first settled New England, and who turned their back on the Anglican Church and its Gothic forms. It is a “modern” building in creating a large, clean, open space for community gathering and hearing the spoken word, made possible by the traditional technology of complex roof trusses to open up the large span. Parson Capen House, Topsfield, Massachusetts, 1783 A New England heavy timber frame house using the traditional, medieval English wood building system of heavy timbers pegged together with mortise and tenon joints, and the overhanging “jetty” where the second floor projects over the first floor. A massive central chimney with fireplaces on both sides for the two principal rooms of the space defines the characteristic New England colonial vernacular plan. John Whipple House, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1677 and 1680s The first building of the house was followed only a few years later by significant enlargement, creating a large timber-framed house with steep gables. The house was altered again in the 1720s to express a more fashionable, almost Georgian design on the exterior, but these significance changes were lost in a, 1898 restoration of the house to express its earliest period of construction. Its leaded, diamond-pattern windows have been restored; these were common in the 17th century and seem not to have survived in any house to the present without restoration and reconstruction. Jonathan and Grace Fairbanks House, Dedham, Massachusetts. 1638 Dendrochonology (measurement of tree-ring growth in the timbers that form the frame of the house) has confirmed that this may actually be the oldest surviving timber-frame house in North America. The small window openings, irregular placement of windows and doors, unfinished-looking original siding surviving within an indoor closet, and the large roof extending from ridge to nearly the ground on the shed (or “saltbox”) addition to the rear all point to the traditional, vernacular characteristics of the 17th century First Settlement houses of New England. Hancock House, Boston, Massachusetts. Erected 1734-37; demolished 1863. Built a century after the Fairbanks House, the Hancock House shows the influence of the Palladian-Georgian style, and marks the beginning of a change toward “modernity” in American architecture. Although grafted onto building skills taught and learned through a craft apprenticeship tradition, details and decorations begin to be created that are learned through books. The Hancock House was a powerful expression of one family’s wealth; the house was made of cut stone and incorporated several Georgian design features including a swan’s neck pediment, balcony off the second floor front of the house, and large windows. The house was demolished in the mid-19th century after a failed effort to preserve it; we know it only through photographs and engravings. Colony House, Newport, Rhode Island, 1741 A public building for colony governmental affairs, the gambrel-roofed structure illustrates some of the ideals of mid-18th century Georgian design in New England. It is brick, with large window openings, composed of multiple small panes of glass held in a wooden sash (up and down opening) window. The use of red brick with white trim is very much a fashionable expression of the first half of the 18th century; first promoted in English architect Christopher Wren’s expansion of Hampton Court Palace in the late 1690s. Quoins, pediments, and a center balcony mark this as an important building of its time and place. Colony House was designed by Richard Munday, a prominent Newport, Rhode Island architect-builder. Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall), Philadelphia, 1731-53 Designed by Edmund Woolley and Andrew Hamilton, the State House was an early expression of the Palladian style in a public building. The gentlemen architects must have used English builder’s books to develop their exterior plans; the interior woodwork is of a very high quality and owes much of its design to James Gibbs Book of Architecture of 1728. MacPheadris-Warner House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1716 This is the earliest surviving urban brick house in New England, and an early use of Palladian design ideas at the very start of the “Georgian” era (named for the time when Kings George 1, II, III and IV were on the throne of Great Britain, 1714-1830). The house was constructed by the English master-builder, who had trained in London, and was familiar with the symmetrical houses introduced during the early 18th century. The house is also notable for the restoration of eye-popping interior decoration, including a mural in the hallway depicting Native Americans and early British settlers in New England, and a second floor chamber finished with “smalt”, a ground cobalt producing a vivid purple effect. Finally, you should know at least these three southern “plantation houses” that represent some of the best interpretation of Palladian design of the Georgian era in America. All three benefited from the immense wealth of the owners who were the American-born descendants of early settlers of the 17th century. All would have considered themselves “gentlemen” and were educated in English traditions and with an awareness of English fashions, manners, and building styles. Direct trade from southern plantations to London meant direct, and fairly frequent contact between plantation owners and their families with family and merchants in London, and the means to access current fashions in clothing, furniture and household goods….and architectural books and prints. - Drayton Hall, outside Charleston, South Carolina, 1750s One of the outstanding surviving examples of Palladian design in America, notable for the main house which has direct design influence from Palladio’s “Four Books of Architecture” (first fully translated into English in 1721), and for the creation of service wings and connecting passageways that are also directly from Palladio. The brick house has been preserved, and never underwent a major restoration campaign, though it is now a museum property. - Mt Airy Plantation, Virginia, 1764 This Palladian-Georgian plantation house takes its design from the Palladian Villa type as presented in James Gibbs Book of Architecture. The main house is a rare example of cut and shaped stone used for the elevations, with dark stone as the main body of the house and the projecting pedimented center section highlighted by limestone. The house and grounds remain privately owned. - Westover, James River, Virginia, ca. 1750 The house is less up-to-date than Drayton Hall, in that its plan is not perfectly symmetrical, and the high hipped roof recalls design of 50 years earlier, but the perfectly proportioned swans’ neck pediment and arrangement of the estate speaks to a familiarity with Palladian design. Westover also remains in private hands.