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Monday, April 7, 2014

On 12:41 PM by Rachel Preston Prinz in
Prince Williams Parish Church, also known as the Old Sheldon Ruins
Originally built in the 1700's, it was the first attempt at Greek Revival architecture in America. It was destroyed two times, once by the British in the Revolutionary War, and again by General Sherman in the Civil War.
The embracing of the Greek style of architecture in America (and around the world, really)  began during the early 19th century, lasting until the Civil War. Its success can be partially attributed not only to its fashion, but because the Greek war for independence which freed the country for visiting coincided with a renewed American appreciation for the ideals of the classical era, with its emphasis on  tradition, civic virtue and democracy.

Greek Revival is considered the last phase of traditional neoclassicism, and was very much seen as a split from the ecclesiatic tradition (emphasizing the American ideal of separation of church and state) as well as being seen as a split from the aristocracy - somewhat ironic, being that much of its resurgence can be attributed to the rediscovery of the newly liberated and trade-opened Greece by British archaeologist aristocrats.

The style can be found in all areas of the United States, and is one of the first styles to have this trait. Though, it was very late arriving and was modified almost beyond recognition in the southwest. It was commonly used for government buildings, and eventually was included in residential architecture. American architects were so fond of the style that they created and widely distributed pattern books on the subject.

Characteristics of the style include:
  • Raising of the structure on a plinth
  • Symmetry
  • Porticos with a low-pitch pedimented gable and/or hip roof
  • Wide cornices decorated with friezes and/or entabulature, often with small windows festooned within
  • Oversized double-hung windows with 6 pane glazing most common
  • Oversized doors  with sidelites and transoms at doors
  • Simple, overscaled mouldings
  • Use of pilasters and engaged columns
  • Use of traditional round, as well as new square or octagonal columns; fluted or smooth; with Doric order capitals most commonly; without plinth in true Greek style, and with plinths in Roman adaptations.
  • Post and beam ceilings without arched openings or vaulting
  • White Exteriors, mimicing the bleached-out temples seen in modern Greek archaeology (which were actually  polychomatically painted in the historic period!)
  • Use of stucco and wood to mimic stone, clapboard, and sometimes stone on the exterior
  • Standing seam tin or cedar shingles on roof

Click on the photo below to check out my Greek Revival architecture collection on Pinterest!