The English, French, Italians, and Spanish have provided the most significant influence on architecture in America. Because many early settlers of this country came here from England and France, the European styles that dominated early American residential architecture were obviously from England and France.
English styles include old English (Cotswold), Tudor, Elizabethan, and Georgian. English styles can be distinguished from each other by some very specific differences in features. However, there are also many features common to all of these styles. For example, English styles all have relatively high-pitched roofs, massive chimneys, light leaded windows, and masonry siding. But the Cotswold style is found in small cottages, while the Elizabethan is distinguished by its half-timber construction, the Tudor by its multiple gables, and the Georgian by its classic box form. Within this framework of a general style, English styles can range from the very simple to the very lavish.
Since the French styles were brought to this country much later than the English styles (from 1700 to 1800), their impact on colonial residential architecture was far less pronounced. However, some French styles, such as Regency, mansard, provincial, and chateau, were accepted and used in many areas. French provincial architecture was brought to this continent when the French settled Quebec. French provincial architecture can be identified by the mansard roof. This roof design was developed by the French architect Francois Mansard. On the French provincial home, this roof is high-pitched, with steep slopes and with rounded dormer windows projecting from sides.
Southern European Architecture
Spanish architecture was brought to this country by Spanish colonials who settled the southwest. Spanish architecture is characterized by low pitched roofs of ceramic tile and by stucco exterior walls. A distinguishing feature of almost every Spanish home is a courtyard patio. Two-story Spanish homes contain open balconies enclosed in grill work. One-story Spanish homes were the forerunners of the present ranch-style homes that were developed in southern California.
Italian architecture is very similar to Spanish architecture. Distinguishing features are the use of columns and arches at a loggia entrance, and windows or balconies opening onto a loggia. A loggia is an open passage covered by a roof. The use of classical moldings around first-floor windows also help to distinguish the Italian style from the Spanish style of architecture.
Southern European house designs are also classified as Mediterranean architecture.