Category Archives: Greek-Revial

It’s Greek to Me

Our house seems to be a hodgepodge of Greek Revival styles. It has the accentuated pediment of the earlier Greek Revival New England design but has the layout and window placement of the later ‘Midwestern Greek Revival farmhouse’. I don’t know if this means that our house was a a pre-courser to the midwest farm house (dating between the two) or a modified version after the Midwestern house became popular.

A book I really enjoyed using to look up specifics is Greek Revival Architecture in America by Talbot Hamlin. It isn’t a field guide, or a even a picture book (although it does have 322 black and white photos as illustrated on its cover) – but it does have very detailed descriptive passages about period details and I recommend the book to anyone who wants names and specifics of popular architects and their works of the era.

Below are two quotes that apply to our area of Upstate NY;

It was in the newer centers that the Greek Revival most clearly set the character – in the towns growing up in the Susquehanna and Delaware valleys, like Green, Unadilla, Otego, Oneonta and the Finger Lakes region… This triumphant Greek Revival work of the 1830’s in up-state New York was definite and polished, quite different from the tentative earlier approaches. It made much of the monumental types of house with a two-story central body fronted with a pedimented portico and flanked by one story wings, as well as of bolder and more original if less ostentatious types – cottages with nearly flat roofs and low frieze windows with decorative cast–iron grilles for the upper floors, or story –and a half gabled cottages. In all of these, freedom of planning and creative modifications of Greek precedent are outstanding and in many there is evidence of the use of the Lafever books. page-266

Western New York in those days was a country of experiment, of striving for the new – a restless, Utopian country. It was the home of religious cults of all kinds, the birthplace of Mormonism. It was a serious, idealistic, perhaps at times even a little ‘touched’ and something of this quality seems to have permeated its architecture, given it vitality, made it eager to seize and to use the new Greek forms and to use them and modify them in a new an experimental ways so that even in the experiments there seems to be little that is tentative – on the contrary they indicate a strong affirmation. There is an enormous variety of house types; many of the different schemes found further west in Ohio and Michigan had their seeds sown in New York State. page 269