The Renaissance Georgian Style

The Craigie house, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, typical of those built by wealthy merchants in the 18th century, shows a refined English Renaissance decorative style, known as the Georgian, characterized by well-modeled moldings and beautifully carved cornices. The method of construction remains the same as that of the Capen house, but the plan differs by approaching the square, with a great central transverse hall dividing two separate sections, each with a central chimney. Both of these parts have the plan of the Capen house. Thus this colonial mansion has four rooms instead of two, on the main floor. Such a scheme descended from Palladio by way of Gibbs's Book of Architecture a handbook of construction frequently employed by the colonial builders. Other houses in the Georgian colonial style are the Hancock house in Boston, and the Miles Brewton house in Charleston. Variations are the Governor's palace at Williamsburg, Virginia, and Cliveden at Germantown, Pennsylvania. In the 18th century many churches were built in this style, notably the Old North Church in Boston, St. Paul's Chapel in New York City, and Christ Church in Philadelphia.

Farms and city houses in the Central Atlantic states show Dutch and German influence. Here the inhabitants of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania developed a brickmaking industry and discovered easily worked stone. This had such influence upon the decorative details that 18th-century houses in the Middle States lack many of the classical refinements.

The most expansive palatial examples of the Georgian style appear in the great feudal estates of the Southern colonies. Most characteristic of these Southern mansions were loggias connecting the central dwelling with balanced outbuildings, an idea taken from James Gibbs's designs of English country houses. Among the best examples of this style are Westover, built in 1730, and Mount Airy, in 1758, in Virginia. Notable in all the Georgian houses are the refined Renaissance doorways, some with broken pediments, others with rich cornices, and many with fanlights and flanking engaged pilasters or columns. After 1735, tall pilasters and sometimes rusticated enframements were applied to the corners of the houses. The finely carved wooden paneling of the interiors showed sometimes baroque, sometimes French neoclassical influence; the latter, particularly in plantations near New Orleans.

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