These days, Early classical revival architecture is rare in America. Home in this style is located mainly in the southeastern states. Virginia has the most examples where this colonial architectural 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.
Early classical revival architecture defining features
There are some obvious identifying features of Early classical revival architecture. The most novice of architectural history enthusiast can easily spot the characteristic features. A large porch supporting the front gable dominate the facade of the home. Residential designers use a semi-circle, a round, or oval shaped window to break up the gable surface. 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 architecture 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. However, true Early classical revivals do not have cornices with dentil work. Early classical revival architecture almost always included a prominent fanlight over the main entry door whereas this faded rather quickly with Greek revival architecture.