The COLONIAL PERIOD 1638-1820 includes three styles, COLONIAL, GEORGIAN and FEDERAL.
The first Colonial designs was dictated by the realities of life—climate, economy and available technology. The colonists were pioneering people who experienced a hard, no frills life. Their creations reflected the fact that their time was spent in the struggle for survival.
The basic Colonial design was blunt with little ornamentation. The buildings were wood frame on a stone foundation with a clapboard (narrow boards) exterior. They were painted earth tones (grey, brown) if they were painted. Roofs were steep, lower on the north side, gables (symbols of home) stood sharply out from the structure. The harsh climate made it necessary to connect the house, barn and sheds. Windows and doors were recessed for protection from the weather. The inside was one large room with a sleeping loft above and there was one chimney in the center of the house. This design has been called the “saltbox”. Hinges, handles and nails were hand forged iron. Windows had as many as twelve small panes.
The GEORGIAN style 1735-1790 was popular at a time when life was getting easier. It could be called high Colonial. The land had been settled, a life style was developed and people could turn their attention to the finer things such as learning and the arts. Homes were designed with more comfort in mind. The wealthy built estates while farmers, artisans and traders built simplified versions. Artisans and craftsmen who could produce fine detail had come from Europe bringing their knowledge of styles with them. Design books were available for carpenters to copy.
The houses were basically square and symmetrical, that is, the same on both sides of a center. Early Georgian houses were clapboard cut narrower and painted blue, green, yellow or pink. For later Georgian homes, bricks were used to create patterns and carved wood was used for trim. Brass hardware was used instead of iron. Window panes were large—six over six. Chimneys were now placed at both ends of the house, providing more heat. The entrance to the house consisted of elaborate doors with columns on either side supporting a pediment. Steps led up to the door which gave the appearance of importance to the house. The facade (face or front) was flat with doors that projected slightly. Spaces between windows and doors were even. The general appearance was horizontal. Roofs were no longer steep as in the earlier Colonial style.