The Beaux Arts architecture style influenced American architecture during the period between 1885 through the late 1920’s, up until the great depression. Beaux Arts style homes are classical. In addition, they share many of the same details found in other styles of Renaissance classical designs such as the Italian Renaissance architecture. Yet, Beaux Arts house plans express more elaborate decorative detailing compared to other similar styles outside of the Chateauesque architecture.
Beaux Arts buildings were designed by Architects. Beaux Arts architecture were public or government buildings as well. They were often found in the wealthy urban centers of the country (i.e. New York, Boston, etc.). There are two perfect examples of the American Beaux-Arts style. One is the Grand Central Terminal and the other one is the New York Public Library. Grand Central and NY Public Library are only blocks away from one another in New York City.
Wealthy families displayed the Beaux Arts style boastfully and proudly during the pre-income tax days. The style expressed the taste and values of America’s industrial boom at the beginning of the 20th century. One example of this is the Breakers estate located in Newport, Rhode Island. This location was the summer playground for the rich. In later years during the economic recession and taxes, these homes became a burden and to much to handle. Most of the homes have been destroyed, but others have been preserved as schools and museums.
Features of Beaux Arts Architecture
The Beaux Arts home style can be distinguished by a number of design features. The design is always symmetrical. A flat or low-pitched hipped roof or the less common Mansard roof are the two principle roofs use in Beaux Arts architecture. Garlands and floral patterns decorate the wall surfaces, while the facade show quoins, pilasters, or columns (Ionic or Corinthian capitals, usually in pairs).
Smooth masonry finishes cover the walls with the first story being rusticated in most cases. Light colored stones are the usual finishes. Home builders use stucco as a substitute to stone these days. Builders use stucco to create the smooth walls and rusticated features. Elaborate molding and dentil work highlight the cornice lines. Roof line balustrades and window balconies are common along with window crowns and surrounds of significant detailing. Entry porches with a roof supported by columns are also common to this style.
Beaux Arts in French, translates to “Fine Arts”.