When we heave open our giant textbooks and discuss colonial America, we learn all about colonists settling down, not knowing anything about the new land, dying, finally figuring out how to stay alive, their new and improved lifestyles and how they lived–but not so much about where they lived. And when I say “where” I mean their houses. Their places of residence. Their abodes. And, if you think about it, houses are an important possession. They provide, first and foremost, shelter (hopefully), but also insight into the changes and growth of a country.
Architectural style in New England is good to focus on because it changed relatively often. In the 1600’s, the “First Period”, houses were built based on European styles colonists were used to, with some changes of course. Most of theses changes were based on the materials they had at hand. Houses were usually wooden, two stories, and built for winter with slanted, shingled roofs for shrugging snow off, and chimneys to accommodate a fireplace.
In the 1700′s Georgian style houses became all the rage. They were based on Italian architectural ideas which were derived from Roman architecture. These Georgian houses had some of the same principles as First Period houses such as two stories and a chimney, but tended to be a little more fancy or stylish. For instance, the doors and moldings tended to be more decorative than First Period ones.
Just these two developments of houses show how styles of architecture in colonial America built upon each other surprisingly fast to create new styles and designs not necessarily unique to America, but with an American spin.