Buildings in the 1800s


Grandeur exemplified architectural styles used to construct buildings in the 1800s. Architects used past styles from ancient Rome and Greece and medieval times to build public government offices and homes. In the United States, buildings symbolized the newly formed democracy and the fledgling upper class that grew out of industrialization. To counteract the grand homes, many architects created 19th-century homes that were simple and less expensive.

Neoclassical Architecture (1780-1850)

  • Neoclassical architectures dominated structures built during the first half of the 1800s, featuring grand columns adopted from ancient Rome and Greece. Buildings showcased domed roofs and large interior spaces. In the newly formed United States of America, neoclassical architecture characterized government buildings and homes constructed at the turn of the 19th century. The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., exemplifies neoclassical architecture and serves as a monument to early American history. The Rotunda, located in the center of the dome, contains artwork depicting historic events and important people in American history.

Greek Revival (1825-1850)

  • Greek Revival architecture gained prominence in the Unites States because Americans felt their fight for independence reflected Greek democracy. Buildings constructed during this time period borrowed features of the neoclassical era, like the expansive round or square columns at the entryway. Buildings also showcased gabled roofs, large moldings, expansive front porches, and detailed etching. Public buildings in Washington D.C., and Philadelphia, such as the Bank of Pennsylvania, used this architectural style. Wealthy citizens utilized Greek Revival architecture to build their mansions and plantation homes. The plantation used in the film “Gone with the Wind” exemplifies this architectural period.

Gothic Revival (circa 1825-1870)

  • Gothic Revival architecture of the 19th century drew inspiration from medieval castles and features tall steeples, numerous windows, parapets and ornate decorations. According to the Vermont Heritage Network, Gothic Revival first appeared in Vermont churches constructed in the mid 1820s, whether they were grand cathedrals or small community churches. Many farmers and business owners chose this style of home rather than the grandeur of the Greek Revival estates. Gothic Revival homes also feature intimate covered porches. Owners often used neutral colors so that the homes blended in with their surroundings.

Stick-Eastlake (1860-1890)

  • Stick-Eastlake buildings were simple structures meant to be economical and not stand out like other architectural styles of the 1800s. Also called stick houses, they didn't have set patterns. Some homes had flat roofs while others had gabled rooftops. Though the homes became associated with furniture designer Charles Eastlake, architects such as H. H. Richardson and Richard Morris Hunt created these homes across the United States. The homes featured a lot of woodworking on the exterior and interior of the homes, particularly in the walls and framework. Variations of stick homes used brick, including the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut.

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