Early classical revival houses are rare in its existence today and are located mainly in the southeastern states. Virginia has the most examples where this colonial style was popular during the years of 1790 to 1830. This was due in part to Thomas Jefferson who was an advocate of this style. During the early 1830’s Greek Revival houses eventually came into popularity in this phase of classical revival.
There are some obvious identifying features of Early classical revival architecture that can easily be spotted by even the most novice of architectural history enthusiast. The facade is usually dominated by a large porch supporting the front gable. The gable is broken up by a window usually semi-circle but can be replaced by a round or oval shaped window. The porch usually consist of four (4) columns that are either of the Roman Doric or Tuscan order (each having a shallow base “aka plinth”) and may or may not have a second story porch that can be supported by the house only and/or columns. Two columns are also frequent. Less common examples can include up to ten (10) columns on the front porch in a two-tiered columns supported upper porch. Exterior wall material may be either wood, brick, stucco, or stone. Brick and wood are the most common exterior finishes. Wall projections are present on a small number but the wall are never curved. The horizontal band (the entablature) below the center gable is usually a smooth or plain finish without elaborate detailing. Dormers are uncommon but do show up on a few examples.
Early classical revival homes share a striking similarity with Greek Revival architecture. This could be because Greek Revival is the successor architectural style. However, there are subtle and not so subtle differences. Greek revival houses have a wide band on the cornice usually with some dentil work not common with early classical revivals, but are used in some examples. Early classical revival almost always included a prominent fanlight over the main entry door whereas this faded rather quickly with Greek revival architecture.