Architecture 101- Spotlight on Georgian

Posted by    |    October 9th, 2012 at 5:15 am

The balanced proportions and classic elevation of the traditional Georgian home speak eloquently to the early colonial days of the United States.  Stately yet somewhat unadorned, the Georgian is a style that pays homage to the first decades of American independence, and has remained an architectural token of individuality among other distinctly American styles.

From 1720 to 1840 a succession of Kings, all carrying the name George, reigned over Great Britain.  It is from this succession that the style is named.  Highly popular in England, the Georgian style was brought to the United States by more affluent colonists and it was not uncommon to have entire streets dedicated to the uniform façade of the Georgian aesthetic.  Colonists blended the symmetry of the English style with a stark simplicity unique to the newly formed United States, resulting in the rise of a new distinctly American style (and cousin to Georgian) termed Federalist after the Federalist Movement occurring in the newly formed United States government. 

The classic Georgian home is symmetrical and uniform throughout its exterior and interior spaces.  Typical characteristics of the Georgian style include a series of windows across the front and a centrally located entryway highlighted by columns and crown-like entablatures.  Homes are typically constructed of brick or stone, but it is not unusual to find a wooden clap-board structure, especially along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.  Chimneys typically flank both sides of a Georgian home, and it is not uncommon to see additions on either wing.  Larger homes in more affluent areas often contain third stories with dormer windows traditionally used as servants quarters- adding to the scope and scale of the bold Georgian. 

Interior spaces are as balanced and proportioned as their exterior counterparts.  While traditional Georgian homes were built in a box style, adhering to strict symmetrical conventions, floor plans have changed over the years to reflect the changing needs of the American homeowner.  In Dallas in particular, the Georgian style has been amplified and broadened, creating an enticing Georgian aesthetic with a uniquely Dallas vibe- quiet tree lined streets and large sprawling homes nestled behind wrought iron gates and circular drives.  Neighborhoods like Preston Hollow, Highland Park and University Park all boast stunning examples of this classic style, remaining true to its basic conventions while offering the finest in luxury living.  Local architects like Hal Thompson (ca. 1920) helped set the standard for the graceful refinery of the Dallas mansion.  Many examples of his work, and others like him, can be found throughout the city. 

To experience a traditional Georgian home is to take a step back in time- to the colonial period of American history when the pulse of the nation was one of strength, solidarity and freedom.  The stately fortitude of the Georgian style reflects these values and continues to be a popular choice among a wide variety of homeowners and homebuilders.  A classic symbol of the American dream come to fruition, the Georgian is here to stay.