History of Architecture in USA

The USA has an architectural history filled with a range of styles, from the Pre-Columbian styles to Colonial, Federal and Frontier styles, before heading into the Gilded Age of gothic design. Many amazing houses were built during each of these architectural periods, and modern hoses also reflect on those past styles by incorporating some elements into their own builds. If you are interested in architecture, then knowing a little bit more about its history can give you a better understanding of how cities have developed over time.

Before Europeans

The first architectural style in America is known as ‘pre-Columbian. This style includes buildings such as Cliff Palace, in Colorado. The Pueblo of the Four Corners also made large structures and public buildings until the 14th century. Other structures include traditional long houses and hogans which are still familiar to this day, and can be included in modern American architectural styles.

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace

Colonial styles

Once Europeans landed in America, they began a style of house-building known as colonial. These houses are typically wood or brick based, and may include Spanish architecture in Florida and the South West, or English Influences. Typical examples of the latter style include small windows, plainly-built walls and large chimneys. One common instance of this style is the Saltbox style. In the latter Colonial period, houses were built in the popular Georgian style, with larger windows, red bricks and white window frames, and often with slated roofs. This style is sometimes called ‘plantation’, since it was popular in the South.


New developments

It was only after the War of Independence that architectural styles in America moved away from European traditions. Most houses of this period are built as elongated rectangles (against the colonial Saltbox shape), and also feature curved lines and an emphasis upon decorative details. They also placed an emphasis upon oval or circular openings.  Interiors focus upon large windows with bright interiors and high ceilings, and neo-classical features.

Frontier or Vernacular

A popular building style in the West of America is the Vernacular or Frontier style. This features rustic materials such as wood, stone and brocks. Sod Houses are a common feature of plains areas where there are no available trees. Most houses of this type date to the mid-nineteenth century.

Revival and Gilded Age

As America became a wealthy nation, architectural styles focused upon that wealth. Many homes are constructed according to classical lines, in a style known as revivalism. Gothic Revival homes can be jaw-droppingly complex.  Later Victorian architecture includes the building of skyscrapers, and aspirational buildings.