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Colonial Architecture in New England

 Colonial Architecture in New England

Table of contents:

  1. America’s architecture  during colonial times
  1. New  England colonial architecture
    1. First steps of constructing in  New England
    2. Transition to more effective  building
    3. Cape Cod style
  1. Colonial styles and their  example in the Boston area.
    1. Colonial styles and their  example in the Boston are
  1. Conclusion
Colonial Architecture in New England Essay
1.America’s  architecture during colonial times
One of the brightest examples of  America’s architectural heritage is the architecture of America's  colonial times. America’s colonial architecture was influenced by  the building traditions of many countries such as Spain, France and  England and others. These were the houses of the first settlers who  tried to apply their cultural traditions to the new houses they  constructed. It was the late 1600’s that gave the birth of the  colonial style and become the first step on the way of architectural  development of the country.  Back then America was divided into 13  colonies and the culture of each of the colonies together formed the  cultural well being of the young country. The architecture of that  period reveals a lot about the ways of life of the settlers. This  period was very important due to the impact in had later on the  architecture of the country in general. To understand the  peculiarities of the style it is necessary to see the reason that  lead to this peculiarities.
2. New England  colonial architecture
New England settlers by the mid  1600’s were already carrying out the ideas of constructing  substantial houses that would protect them and remind their native  land houses. Such houses are usually expected to have two stories and  the entrance situated exactly in the center of the house and a huge  chimney in the middle. The early settlers that started the  architectural movement in New England brought a lot of Anglican  elements into the building style. One of the priorities while  building any house was its level of safety. The connection of these  two components resulted in very strange but beautiful in their own  way constructions. New England was controlled by the Puritans, which  did have definite influence of the building style and the quality of  the houses. All the houses were approximately of the same economical  level. Mansions and manor houses were not constructed simultaneously  to the construction of ordinary cottages until the Georgian style.  Boston area is one of the strongest acts of concentration of the  colonial style architecture.

2.1. First steps of  constructing in New England
The colonization in New England, to  be accurate, started in 1620 generally and in 1630 in Boston area.   As the Puritans influenced the area the first structures were made of  wood and used the technology of frame structuring. Meeting the  restrictions in the materials possible to use while building all the  constructions were mainly of the same pattern. They were all  timber-framed. In the very beginning of the architecture practice the  settlers did not apply clapboard siding, but lately it was approved  and added to the primary house patters. The general shape of the  house was called “saltbox form” with a steeply pitched gable  roof. The second floor used to overhang the first floor and the  windows were very small. As it has been mentioned before it was all  complemented with a huge chimney.  The houses obtained by the New England settlers were  the representatives of a new synthesized style that was the  combination the settler’s native culture, the conveniences required  to “survive” in the new area and the lack of more effective  materials. The houses did not have any “extras”, as they were  also restricted by the religion.
2.2. Transition to  more effective building
Wooden constructions caused a lot of  problems for the settlers as the constant use of timber chimneys held  them under the constant danger of a fire breakout. Gradually, a  standard type of an English cottage was established.  The best  examples of this establishment were the houses in the Boston area,  Massachusetts. It was ordinary a one-room house in which this one  room met all the possible requirements: it was a kitchen, a living  room and a bedroom. This type of building did not require much time  and efforts and was occupied by large families. The second story was  a small garret usually used to locate children. The roof remained  steeply pitched and sometimes the fireplace was moved from the center  of the room closer to its end. Other words, the “salt-box”  engrained into the architectural traditions of the settlers in New  England. The basic improvement was the usage of clay to make the  houses more steadfast to the exterior influences.
2.3. Cape Cod style
A well-known example of the New  England colonial architecture contribution is the Cape Cod House. For  instance, Hoxie House built in 1637 in Sandwich, Massachusetts. These houses were  situated all along the Boston Bay, resisting the weather and the  climate. The houses were made of wood and were in wide clapboard or  shingles. It gave a lot of advantages over the humid climate of the  Boston area. It let the fresh air inside the house, aerating it and  at the same time it did not let the wind inside. Altogether with the  heat from the chimney it provided rather good conditions for living.  The Cape Cod style is the full reflection of the “salt-box”  houses mentioned above with some possible variations. The house  looked very symmetrical, had double-hung windows with shutters and a  very conservative outside decoration of the house.  The door and the  chimney were situated in the center of the house and there usually  were windows by the entrance. As Boston was similar to London with  its climate and water resources this type 1-1,5 storied of houses  with a small attic and a fireplace in each room proved to be suitable  for this region. It is known that New England has always possessed a  great amount of stone. Nevertheless, the end of the colonial period  in New England faced units of houses made of stone. These houses  later gave the start to a new architectural era. The settlers needed  time to learn how to treat stone and to get acquainted with stone  building.

3.Colonial styles and their example in the Boston area.
The colonial style proved to be  rather simple both in the houses and public buildings, which were  primarily churches. The 17th century architecture in the  Boston area brought mainly wooden houses. Massachusetts by itself is  the concentration of 39 different colonial style homes.  Boston area  peculiarities do not deal with a large amount of styles presented but  nevertheless the examples still remain the brightest in the whole  colonial history.
For  instance, we can review Whipple House built in 1640 in Ipswich, which is located in the North of Boston.  This famous house is an original oak, pine and chestnut framework.  There is a garden, surrounding the house, which was very typical for  the Massachusetts houses. This house is considered to be a true work  of craftsmen’s skills and masterpiece of the colonial style period.  It has a typical door at the center and a massive chimney, four  square-wave windows and two tiny square attic windows at the front.  The color palette of the house ranges from gray-blue to black. There  is nothing spare in the structure of the house; it is “classically  elegant” and it full with “symmetrical simplicity”. Another  example of a house often observed in the south of Boston is the  Harlow Old Fort House. It is a house with grayed shingles, a chimney  and gambrel roof so typical for the colonial times in New England.  The house is a pure projection of a house of the period of the  Pilgrims. Nowadays this house like many houses of that time is a  museum.
3.1.  The summary of peculiarities of the style
Summarizing  all the peculiarities of the colonial style in Boston area it is  necessary to emphasize all the possible inclinations from the  standard form in the later houses of that period. The roof can be of  three possible shapes: gabled, gambrel or hipped roof, the cornice is  of a standard classical appearance, the exterior walls have  clapboards and flat boards. The windows of the houses of this region  are double-hung, the entry is pedimented and the shape of the house  if outlined with the corner and sill boards. The front door has  windows at the sides and sometimes even in the door itself, all of  the windows in the house are symmetrically placed. The color palette  differed from dark to soft colors. The color of doors and shutters  usually differed from the color of the house itself. The houses were  mainly middle-class houses. The  New England colonial style in the Massachusetts area was spreading  fast and therefore was gradually improved. Colonial style was  replaced by the Georgian style and opened the architecture to  mansions, wealth and luxury.
4.Conclusion
The  type of houses designed during the colonial period in the Boston area  became very popular all over the United States and were not just an  English influence, but more a completely different style, American  style. The experience of the colonial settlers of New England in  general and Massachusetts in particular had an enormous impact on the  architectural development of the region. Even the contemporary houses  posses the elements of the colonial homes and become especially  elegant owing to them. American architectural heritage is perfectly  reflected in the colonial architecture in New England with Boston in  its heart. Massachusetts is a historical museum of the colonial  times. The historic traditions of the region have to be remembered  and traces. So therefore it is tremendously important to be able to  recognize the colonial New England style form numerous other styles  represented in the United Stated of America







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