Daily Dose: American Colonial Homes

Add to TwitterIn the “spirit” of Thanksgiving, I think it’s timely to break out a mini history lesson on colonial homes built in early America. The French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swiss and British styles have all remained popular in America and can be found all over the country from New England to Florida to California.

New England Colonial Home; Rebecca Nurse Homestead

Our first home is a New England style colonial which was built beginning in the 1600s through 1740. This particular home was built in 1678 and has been extensively restored to appear in its current state. It was the home of Rebecca Nurse who was executed in the Salem Witch Trials. A typical New England colonial home was two storeys high with a steep roof and side gables, a large, centered chimney and a wood frame with clapboard or shingles. Because of the wooden frame, very few of these homes are still standing today.

Spanish Colonial Home; Gonzalez-Alvarez Residence

Built between 1600 and 1900, the Spanish colonial style home had very thick walls made of stone, adobe brick, stucco or coquina – a sedimentary rock made up of many shell fragments. It was typically a one-storey home with a flat roof. The windows often had interior shutters. The pictured Gonzalez-Alvarez house resides in St. Augustine, Florida and has been extensively remodeled since its construction in the early 1700s.

Dutch Colonial Home; John Teller House

Before I talk about Dutch colonial homes, I need to admit that I primarily associate these residences with the game of Life, in which I believe you can buy a greyish-blue one for a reasonable price (cladding, though, not brick). Most “real-life” Dutch colonials, however, utilize masonry construction (brick or stone) and were built between 1625 and the mid 1800s. They often have gambrel roofs with identical chimneys on opposite ends. Some very lucky residents may still have Dutch doors in their homes; the tops and bottoms open independently of one another. The above image shows the John Teller house in Schenectady, NY which was built in 1740.

French Colonial Home; Creole Plantation

Finally, and most strikingly different for those of us used to seeing midwestern homes, we have the French colonial which combines architectural elements found in France, the Caribbean and the West Indies. This particular mix of styles has been dubbed “Creole” architecture. Typically, these home are found along the Mississippi valley in temperate climates. They have timber frames with brick or bousillage (bu’ si jaʒ) – mud mixed with moss and animal hair. Many thin wooden columns line the elevated living quarters and wide porches known as galleries. There are no interior hallways; the porches are used as routes between rooms. (Just a note, Iowans: I don’t see this becoming a popular January trend for us.) The pictured plantation is located in Louisiana.

I hope you enjoyed this gathering of information on early American colonial homes. If you’re traveling for the holidays, have a safe trip, and for everyone – Happy Thanksgiving and eat up!

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