The early colonists came to the New World (America) from many different cultures and were familiar with many different styles of architecture. The label "Early American styles" is something of a inaccurate term, since all styles that came to America during this country's early development can be classified as such. As in European styles, there is likely a considerable amount of overlapping of characteristics among Early American architecture given that they all have a northern European base.
New England Colonial Architecture
The early settlers of the New England coastal areas were largely influenced by English architecture. Because of the lack of materials, equipment, and time, they were forced to simplify the house designs and adaptations to these styles. One of the most popular of all the New England styles of architecture was the Cape Cod. It is a one and one half story gabled-roof house with dormers. This design has a center aligned front entry, a large central chimney, and clapboard or bevel siding. Double hung windows are dressed with shutters, and the floor plans are generally symmetrical in design.
Mid-Atlantic Colonial Architecture
This style of architecture came about with the availability of brick. A seasonal climate plus the design philosophy of architect, Thomas Jefferson also help to spearhead the mid-Atlantic style. In the colonial period, many buildings stretching from Virginia to New Jersey were designed in this fashion. The style is formal, massive, and ornate. It was an adaptation of several urban English buildings.
Southern Colonial Architecture
With warmer climates in the south, early settlers who migrated there were led to develop the southern colonial style. Outdoor living activities were more the usual. The homes became larger making them the center of plantation living. Second stories were added giving a more grand look along with two-story columns to support the front-roof overhang and the symmetrical gable roof.
American Styles That Developed Later...
After the colonial period, architectural styles somehow evolved from existing styles or climate needs, or were replicated from southern European home styles as part of the classical revival movement. Styles that developed from this period included the Federal or Adam style, Victorian, classical revival, Gothic revival, and several Spanish western styles including the western ranch, western adobe, Monterey, and Spanish Mediterranean.