French Colonial Architecture

French colonial house plan.The house on Ellicott's Hill, French Colonial: Natchez, Mississippi

When anyone mentions french colonial architecture, New Orleans quickly comes to mind. Those who are familiar with the area know the reasons why. A large number of existing french colonial houses are located in that city. Although it is french colonial, some may use the term "West indies-Spanish Provincial" in describing this architectural style. It is one of several colonial styles that includes federal colonial, early classical revival, dutch colonial architecture, and georgian. It was common for quite some time, enjoying popularity that went on for roughly 130 years between 1700 and 1830. After the Louisiana purchase in 1803, this building style slowly begin to fade, but continued strongly for a half century in New Orleans.

The style varies slightly depending on whether it is of urban or rural setting. For instance, many French colonial home designs are built at the edge of the sidewalk in the urban spaces of New Orleans. These examples lack a front porch. The rural type have extensive porches with wood column supports for the roof line, commonly raised and supported by large masonary columns.

Identifying features of French colonial architecture include the one or two story design (commonly one story) with many tall narrow doors and window openings with paired shutters. Originally these doors were paired french and the windows were paired casements. Today, in new french colonial inspired house designs, they are commonly seen with a single door and double hung windows. Other elements include a steeply pitch roof being hipped or gable (sometimes with flarred overhanging eaves) and walls od stucco, siding, or less common brick.