Greek Revival Architecture
Also known as Classic Revival, Greek Revival architecture took the US by storm when it initially appeared during the early 19th century. Indeed, many experts consider Greek Revival to be the first legitimately national style in the country, as it spread across all regions and states within a fairly short period of time. Not surprisingly, this style of architecture was especially prominent in the east, where the majority of the population was concentrated at the time. It is easy to find examples of Greek Revival architecture throughout New England, Massachusetts and greater Boston. Whether you are interested in buying a Greek Revival home or are merely curious about this type of architecture, Boston City Properties has you covered.
This highly formalized style of architecture attempts to recreate the architecture of Ancient Greece. As a result, large platforms and lots of columns typically dominate its design. Highly adaptable, Greek Revival is often considered to be interchangeable with Neoclassical architecture, but many experts say that this is incorrect. One of the biggest differences is that Neoclassical design tends to fall within very strict parameters, while Greek Revival architecture tends to be more versatile and adaptable.
During the early 19th century, archeology rose to prominence. All of a sudden, people were learning more about civilizations that came before them. This caused a huge spike in interest in Greek culture. Not surprisingly, it also caused increased interest in Grecian style in general. At the same time, America was still in its infancy. Americans regarded themselves as the successors to democracy, whose origins, of course, came from Greece. These factors all converged to make Greek Revival architecture incredibly popular and prominent. Unlike many architectural styles, which were limited to specific regions, Greek Revival spread like wildfire across the entire country in short order.
Another factor that contributed to the popularity and rise of Greek Revival architecture was the War of 1812. During this period, tensions with England were at an all-time high. Having only recently won their independence, Americans greatly resented the British and their attempts to regain control. Greek Revival architecture resounded with Americans of this era because it emphasized the democratic aspects of their country. In a way, it allowed Americans to show pride in their accomplishments--and to show the world that they were, indeed, a strong, proud country.
A few common characteristics of Greek Revival architecture include:
• Columns - A house or building can't truly be considered Greek Revival without any columns. There are no requirements in terms of the style, size or quantity of columns, however. On homes, columns most commonly support porches in the front.
• Large platforms - Homes and buildings in this style generally sit atop large platforms. As a result, staircases are usually required. These platforms also often doubled as porches where residents could kick back and relax. In this way, Greek Revival homes helped to encourage socializing in growing communities.
• Low-pitched roofs - Most buildings in the Greek Revival style have low-pitched roofs. Gabled and hipped roofs are most commonly used. The one disadvantage is that low-pitched roofs don't tend to fare very well during the winter, as snow and ice can easily accumulate on them. Despite this, Greek Revival architecture became very popular among residential homes.
• Symmetry - When looking at a home or building in the Greek Revival style, pay attention to how it is laid out. You will quickly notice that this style encourages symmetry. Everything tends to be balanced out to create a harmonious overall design. If one end of the building has two rows of windows, for example, the other end will have the same thing.
• Simplicity - At the time that Greek Revival rose to prominence, the world at large was fairly tired of the richly ornamented styles that had been popular for so long. While Greek Revival buildings have dramatic columns, they are otherwise generally quite plain. You won't find a lot of intricate detailing on these types of buildings. Clean lines and expanses of blank space all balance out the more dramatic features to create a visually pleasing look.
Although Neoclassical architecture is almost exclusively reserved for public buildings, Greek Revival is much more approachable and therefore more often used on single-family homes. Indeed, a home can be considered Greek Revival even if it doesn't meet a specific list of characteristics. This type of architecture is very adaptable, so it started appearing on homes fairly quickly after arriving in the US. Greek Revival homes especially rose to prominence during the dawn of the industrialized era, as business boomed and everyday people suddenly had the means to design more stately homes. During this period, large groups of Greek Revival homes were constructed around Massachusetts. Today, you can still find many of them in communities like New Bedford and Cambridge.
In Boston, one of the best examples of Greek Revival style can be found at Quincy Market, which is the centerpiece of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The next time that you are in the city, head over there to get a good feel for what Greek Revival is all about. The Sears Home in Needham is another great example. Given its ubiquity at the time, it is possible to find Greek Revival homes and buildings in most communities in the state.
Unlike some architectural styles, which appear dated and unattractive in modern times, Greek Revival architecture has amazing staying power. In fact, new homes are still often inspired by this stately style of architecture. If you like Greek Revival and want a home that is designed in this way, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding one. Older, well-maintained Greek Revival homes are a bit tougher to come by, as they tend to be very popular in established communities. However, new subdivisions in many areas have homes that feature at least some Greek Revival elements, so it is always worth looking in those areas.
Many types of homes can be considered to include Greek Revival elements. In fact, a home doesn't have to be detached to qualify. Indeed, many townhouses, row houses and other homes feature Greek Revival elements. As a result, you don't have to limit yourself to single-family detached homes. If you would prefer a row house, townhouse or some other type of home, odds are that you can find one that includes columns, prominent platforms and other eye-catching touches without too much trouble.
If you have your heart set on owning a gorgeous Greek Revival home somewhere in Massachusetts, Boston City Properties is here to help. We maintain a huge online database of continually updated real estate listings, and we'll give you free access when you sign up using a simple form. Once you have access, you can search specific neighborhoods, towns and cities for homes that meet your criteria. As an added bonus, we have experienced real estate experts around the state who can direct you toward Greek Revival homes in many areas. They can also educate you more about what this style entails. In the meantime, if you need more help or information, please call Boston City Properties.