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Colonial House Styles and Examples

Dutch Colonial Photo

The Colonial house style consists of many styles built during the Colonial period (early 18th Century) in America's history when England, Spain, and France had colonies scattered across what is now the United States.

English colonies closely mirrored housing fashions of England although they were 50 years behind. Early on (pre 1700) the First Period English style houses were based on the building practices of late medieval Britain. After 1700 the English colonies evolved their building style into the Georgian style.

When the American Revolution arrived the architectural fashion evolved into the Federal style and persisted until around 1820. The next housing fashion to develop was based on the ancient Roman architecture that inspired the Renaissance and was labeled the Early Classical Revival Style. This style was popularized in the southern U.S. by popular southern architects such as Thomas Jefferson. Also, during this time the French colonies in Louisiana developed the French Colonial style and further west the Spanish Colonial style evolved. Both Spanish and French Colonial styles are very rare in today's popular Colonial styles.

The American Colonial styles including First Period English, Georgian, Federal, Early Classical Revival, French Colonial, and Spanish Colonial are familiar today thanks to the Colonial Revival and Spanish Eclectic styles which were popularized in the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition and continue to this day.

How To Spot A Colonial.

  1. Architecture is very symmetrical and square
  2. Decorative crown above front door
  3. Narrow side windows flanking the front door
  4. Paired Chimneys

Specific Colonial Examples.

Other types of Colonial styles include:

  • French Colonial
  • Federal
  • Early Classical Revival
  • Spanish Colonial
  • New England Colonial

Colonial Links.

Resource No. 286

Georgian Architecture of the 18th Century

Compiled by Boston College.

Georgian Architecture of the 18th Century

Resource No. 285

Iron Works House

Explore the place where European iron makers brought their special skills to a young Massachusetts colony. This nine-acre National Park includes working waterwheels, hot forges, mills, an historic 17th century home and a lush river basin.

Iron Works House

Resource No. 378

Monticello: The Home of Thomas Jefferson

When visiting Monticello you can tour the mountaintop house that Jefferson designed and built for himself and his family, enjoy the beauty of its grounds and sweeping vistas, and explore the complexities of Jefferson's enduring global legacy.
434-984-9800

Monticello: The Home of Thomas Jefferson

Resource No. 288

Nathaniel Russell House: Federal Style

The Historic Charleston Foundation welcomes visitors to explore daily life in one of Charleston’s most exquisite dwellings. Located in Downtown Charleston near High Battery, the Nathaniel Russell House s widely recognized as one of America’s most important neoclassical dwellings.

Nathaniel Russell House: Federal Style

Resource No. 287

Parlange Plantation: French Colonial Style

The Parlange Plantation House, built about 1750 in southeastern Louisiana, is a classic example of a large French colonial plantation house.

Parlange Plantation: French Colonial Style

Colonial Books and Magazines.

Resource No. 311

The Chesapeake House: Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg

Cary Carson, Carl R. Lounsbury

In this beautifully illustrated volume, a team of historians, curators, and conservators draw on their far-reaching knowledge of historic structures in Virginia and Maryland to illuminate the formation, development, and spread of one of the hallmark building traditions in American architecture.

Resource No. 183

Colonial House

Jonathon Allen and Julia Fries

PBS Home Video

Resource No. 482

Colonial Houses

Hugh Howard

For anyone who has dreamed of living in a Colonial-style home, this showcase of Colonial Williamsburg standouts is an irresistible wish book. And for the home design do-it-yourselfer, it is even more than that. Domestic design and construction expert and award-winning historic preservation writer Hugh Howard provides a tour of favorite Colonial Williamsburg restorations that will fast become a primary resource of ideas and no-nonsense information.

Resource No. 298

Colonial Style

Treena Crochet

California Cape Cods and 21st-century Colonials proclaim the enduring popularity of colonial architecture. Colonial Style provides both inspiration and practical advice to homeowners looking to increase their home's livability while retaining its classic charm.

Resource No. 299

Homebuilding and Woodworking in Colonial America

C. Keith Wilbur

Explores the tools and technology that the American colonists use to build homes that could stand the test of time.

Resource No. 397

The Philadelphia Country House: Architecture and Landscape in Colonial America

Mark E. Reinberger, Elizabeth McLean

Moving from general trends and building principles to architectural interiors and landscape design, Reinberger and McLean take readers on an intimate tour of the fine, fashionable elements found in upstairs parlors and formal gardens.