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 home styles that dominated Early American residential architecture were obviously from England and France.
Architecture of European home styles
English styles include old English (Cotswold), Tudor architecture, Elizabethan, and Georgian. The features are different, so you can tell apart the styles. However, there are also many features common to all of these residential architectural styles. For example, English styles all have relatively high-pitched roofs, massive chimneys, light leaded windows, and masonry siding. However, the Cotswold style is used on small cottages, while the Elizabethan is distinguished by half-timber construction. Tudors stand apart with it’s multiple gables and the classic box form identifies Georgian. Within this framework of a general style, English styles can range from the very simple to the very lavish.
The French styles came to this country much later than the English styles (from 1700 to 1800). French architecture did not sharply impact Colonial residential architecture due to this fact. However, the style was used in many areas. Regency, mansard, provincial, and chateau were some of those styles. French provincial architecture came to this continent when the French settled Quebec. The mansard roof identifies French provincial architecture. French architect Francois Mansard developed this roof style. 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 came 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 roof covered passage is a loggia. The use of classical moldings around first-floor windows also help to distinguish the Italian style from the Spanish style of architecture.
Southern European home styles are also classified as Mediterranean architecture.