As the colonies prospered in the eighteenth century, rich Americans increasingly followed the latest European fashions in architecture and furnishings, as
in other areas. In the seventeenth century, economic differences among Americans had been expressed principally in the size rather than the style of their
houses. The classically influenced Georgian style of eighteenth-century England provided a way to distinguish between houses by style rather than size.
The English Georgian house found many American imitators, beginning with wealthy men who immigrated from England, such as Peter Sergeant of
Boston and Richard Whitpaine of Philadelphia. Official residences were also trendsetters the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia, built by
Alexander Spotswood in the early eighteenth century, introduced classically influenced Palladian architecture to the Chesapeake and was widely imitated.
The grand house of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was marked by brick construction, painted clapboards, and large, symmetrically
arranged sash windows with ornamental wooden frames and crown glass rather than inferior broad glass windows with lead casements. Staircases were
broad, straight, and unenclosed. Rooms were laid out in a symmetrical pattern. The front room was transformed into a parlor, without bedding or work
tools, and given over to the best-quality furniture and display items. The huge central fireplaces of the seventeenth century were abandoned in favor of
smaller, more efficient fireplaces. Such seventeenth-century features as tall gables and overhanging second floors disappeared, sometimes through
remodeling of existing structures.
The Georgian house required more book knowledge of classical architectural forms than did previous housing styles. Books of patterns were commonly
used. These books were imported from England. Among the first published in America (although originating in England) was Abraham Swan’s A
Collection of Designs in Architecture, printed in Philadelphia in 1775. The Georgian style’s basis in texts, rather than the experience of individual builders
and the customs of local communities, meant that it had more uniformity across the colonies, and between the colonies and Britain, than had previous
American building styles.
Like the homes of the English gentry on which they were modeled, American Georgian homes, often built on the top of a hill or other prominent position
for lesser folk to see and admire, proclaimed both the owner’s high social status and participation in an elite transatlantic culture. Sometimes, a Georgian
facade, visible to the public, concealed a non-Georgian house. Other architectural features that became more popular in elite and middle-class houses of
the eighteenth century were open verandas and porches.
Georgian House – Historic new town home | Edinburgh Spotted by Locals Ltf
The Georgian House Photo Gallery
The Georgian House | Edinburgh Guide Ltf
The Georgian House Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland Ltf
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