Architecture Through the Ages

By: Chase Armstrong

American Architecture 1600 to 1800 ~ Traditional Architecture

When the Pilgrims settled in America they were far from the only one's. Families came from Spain, Germany, France, Latin America and with them came diverse and unique architecture styles. They designed homes that they remembered, while creating and innovating new styles. When some of the first British settlers settled in New England in 1600s they built timber frame buildings. They used rock and wood with enormous stone chimneys. Few of these houses remain today because they were built out of wood.

German and Spanish Colonial Architecture 1600-1900

When the Germans settled in America stone was plentiful. They used this to their advantage with building sturdy homes with very thick walls. They also used timber and had hand-hewn beams throughout their homes. The photo shows a house you would find that was built in 1767 with the characteristics of German architecture back then.

Early Spanish settlers didn't have elaborate fountains and carvings with huge courtyards. Settlers from Latin America, Mexico, and Spain built their homes with wood, adobe, crushed shells, or stone. They had red clay tiles that covered flat roofs. Few houses have survived to this day, but some are still being preserved.

Dutch and French Colonial Architecture

Dutch architecture brought many traditions from their home country similar to the German settlers. Dutch settlers mostly settled in New York. They constructed houses with brick and stone. One of the most unique styles they brought to America is how they built their roofs. They built their houses with a gambrel roof (showed in picture). This is very popular revival style. Many 20th century homes will include the rounded roof that the dutch brought to New York when they settled here in 1625 to the mid 1800s.

French settlers were different then the English, Germans and Dutch. French settlers mostly settled in the Mississippi Valley their architecture styles were popular in the 1700s to 1800s. French architecture is a wide range of architecture from many different parts. It includes European ideas with practices learned from Africa, the Caribbean, and the West Indies. Due to the very hot and muggy weather in the South the homes were designed differently than the homes in the North. French colonial homes are constructed on tall piers. Along with wide, open porches (they called them galleries) connected the rooms inside. (Picture of a French colonial plantation home shown below).

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Contemporary and Modern Architecture 1950s-Present

The new elegant and sleek modern or contemporary architecture is a change from the traditional house plans in the past. It offers open and flexible floor space, and decorative elements throughout. Along with the big open floor space and the house being decorative, modern architecture features soaring ceilings. Pure modern style include materials like concrete, vinyl, and glass are used extensively throughout the modern and contemporary architecture today.

“Architecture Through the Ages”

I chose architecture as my topic because my dad, my personal hero, studied architecture in school and now runs his own business has an architect. He received a degree in bachelor of science, architectural studies (BSAS). Everyday I see him he gets up early in the morning and jumps right into his car. He then comes home late from work. And on the weekends he spends time doing designs of houses and buildings in his office. What I realize about him most of all is that he always has a smile during work. His work makes him happy. He enjoys working for his clients day in and day out. This was fascinating to me: I couldn’t believe that he actually liked doing work. As being a student, I don’t like tests or quizzes, I don’t like homework or worksheets. This made me want to learn more about the history of architecture and what makes my hero happy every single day. Learning a topic most of people don’t know much about was a very beneficial use of my passion project time.


Works Cited

“Architecture: Ancient and Modern.” JSTOR HOME. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.

“Contemporary-Modern Style House Plans.” Dream Home Source. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.

“Guide to Colonial American House Styles, 1600 to 1800.” about home. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.