GEORG AN FARCHITECTURE
D~ec. 5, 1975
,~ ~ ageD TpsoGogindoay(PilpWie
Flat section of classic entablature.
Georgian architecture is a formal style made up of sim-
ple geometric forms, Symetry, and balance, are of supreme
importance. In the Colonial house needs determined the form
a structure would take, and the strusture became the style.
In Georgian architecture art shaped needs and needs shaped
The Georgian style brought many new details and design
refinements to American architecture. The first signs of the
American Georgian styles appeared in the doorways, which
were framed in fluted collums of the classic orders topped
by a flat section of classic entablature or a pediment of
the angular, curved, segmental, scroll or swan's neck"
type. The entramce hall became wide and well lighted, with
a high ceiling and walls that were painted or papered.
A handsome staircase with a finely detailed banister and
sorollediand paneled stegends, would be found in the entrance
hall. Paint and plaster were the most important new mat-
evials of the period. Gerogian windows were of the sliding-
sash type, with pulleys, cords, and counterweights. Wren
used this style-sash windows in Hampton Court Court Palace
in 1689, Early Georgian windows contained many small pan-
nels because large pieces of glass were not available, but
the typical twelve pane window was found in most later,
finer Georgian houses. Dormer windows were often used,
appearing on gabled, gamgrel, or hipped roof wherever these
were of sufficient pitch to permit attic rooms. Roofs were
usually lower pitched than in the Colonial style, Thirty
degrees or less was much more common than the 450 standard
of late Colonial. The classic cornice, with modillions and
mouldings, and sometimes a row of dentils, replaced the simph
eaves of Colonial houses. The gabled roof continued much in
use, and the gambrel become more popular, but the hipped
roof.was the favorite Georgian type and was used on a
majority of br-the finer houses. The ridge was often out
off at the top and enclosed with balustrades to form a
' captain's walk '. Roof decks became almost universal in
the larger Georgian houses after 1750, (During the Federal
period the balustrade migrated to the perimeter of the roof),
Chimneys were usually rectangular in shape with a simple
plinth or small molded cornice at the top. The informal
gardens of the Colonial style gave way to the formal Georgian
Until nearly the end of the eighteenth century, America
lacked architects that could be considered professionals.
Building was done by master-builders or 'house-wrights', who
played a very important part in determining the American
Georgian style. These men worked from the many books avail--
able for mature designers and'house wrights', Some of the
books available at the time weres William Adam's, Vitraine
Scoticus, James Gibbs's, Book of Architecture, Colin
Campbells, Vitruvius Britannious, and Giacomo Leanis,
Palladio, but these books were very expensive..Some of the
cheaper books with wide circulation were by Robert Morris,
Abraham Swan, William Halfpenny, Batty Langley, William Pain,
William Salomen, Swan s, Carpenter's Complete Instructor,
and Swan's, British Architect, 1774. These publications
shaped American Georgian Architecture. The successful
architects of the south that emerged from this system were
Henry cary, Richard Taliaferro, John Arias, David Minitree,
John Hawks, Ezra Waite, Gabriel Manigault, William Buckland,
Thomas Jefferson, and General Washington,
The earlier examples of Georgian architecture were gen-
erally simpler stan the later. The early period occurd
between 1700-and 1745-50. Early Georgian architecture was
robust and vigorous, in the burley shapes of its houses and
the boldness of its mouldings. It had details from baroque
architecture such as the broken and scrolled pediments, and
eared architraves. Lingering Gothie verticality could be
seen in the windows and the steeper roof pitches of early
Georgian architecture.. The facades of early Georgian archi-
tecture were generally flat. The plan was symetrical and
made up of simple, straight forward adaptation of Georgian
style coming from England.
Some of the finest examples of early Georgian architeo-
ture in the south can be found at Williansburg, Virginia.
Williamsburg was the capitol of Virginia from 1699 to 1779,
a span in years almost identical to the period in which the
Georgian style flourished in America., Because the capitol
was moved in 1779,,much of the population and wealth left
Williamsburg allowing it to keep much of its Georgian architecture
over the years.
Examples of early Georgian Architectures
The College of William and Mary, 1695- 1702, Williamsburg,
Virginia, is considered the first example of mature Renaissance
design in the colonies. The building was constructed by
English master builder, Thomas Hadley, and the plans may have
been drawn by the Surveyor General, Sir Christopher Wren.
The Georgian features are formal symetry, rounded arch portal,
balcony, gable, a cupola accenting the central axis, and windows
disposed in a uniform rythem. The windows at the end are ommited
to strengthen the corners. Wren's signature can be seen in the
round windows on front and back.
The Capitol at Williamsburg, built knder the direction of
Henry Gary as master builder or 'overseer', 1701- 1705.
Some of the early Georgian design elements in this building
are the full-height paneling framed by Doric pilasters
carrying a continues molded wood cornice around the room, the
simple direct expression of the exterior, hipped main roof
masses, and the tall octagonal cupola.
The Governor's Palace, Williamsburg, Virginia, built
1706- 1720, with Henry Gary as the supervisor of construction.
The plans were probably made in London, and the designer
might have been Sir Christopher Wren, It was the finest
residence of it's day in the colonies. It's early Georgian
features are its precise clarity of composition, symetry,
two story cupola, belt course of smooth rubbed brick, roof
deck balustrade, Corinthian pilasters flanking the fireplace,
stairs with spirally twisted balusters rising under an ellip-
tical arch to the landing, and it's fine formal gardens.
Bruton Parish Churchm Williamsburg, Virginia, built
1711-1715. Details of the architecture characteristic of the
early Georgian style are the modillioned cornice, wooden
octagonal spire in two stages, circular windows (may reflect
the influence of Wren's round windows in the College of
William and Mary ), white plastered walls, and details of the
The majority of the smaller homes at Williamsburg were
White painted clapboard structures, a story and a half high
with steep-gabled roofs and were a continuation of the <
earlier Colonial style. Their Georgian features were slide-
ing-sash windows, paneled front doors, plastered interiors,
andan occasional moulded cornice,
Other examples of early Georgian architecture are the
Coupola House at Edenton, with its sliding-sash windows,
coupolayand itefine paneling of interior rooms. Brandon,
Prince George County, Virginia, 1912, Westover, Charles City
county, Virginia, 1730-34, showing an intableture and seg-
mental pedemen eating on Corinthian pilasters over its
north door, and its baroque swan's neck pediment resting
on composit pilasters overksouth door, Drayton Hall, Charle-
ston, South Carolina, 1738, displaying the regional char-
acteristics of South Carolinas plantation houses of the
period, Wilton-on-the-James, Virginia, 1753, and Carter's
Grove, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1750-53, the culmination of
Virginia's early Georgian style.
Late Georgian architecture was more complex and more
formal in composition. Its detail was less vigorous, but
richer and more highly ornamented. There is less Baroque
influence from the school of Sir Christopher Wren, and more
influence from English Palladianism. Some major architects
in the formation of late Georgian architecture were John
Ariss, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.
Examples of Late Georgian Architectures
Mount Airy, Richmond County, Virginia, built 1758-62,
exhibiting late Georgian design elements such as a recessed
loggia, with square piers composed of four Roman Doric
pilasters and a projecting pavilions Mount Vernon, Fairfax
County, Virginia, which follows a Palladian-Villa plan, with
late Georgian details such as rusticated wood walls fashioned
to resemble blocks of stone masonry, and a Palladian window in
the Banquet Room, Gunston Hall, 1758, Edenton, Chowan
99399199MEtHouse, 1767, The Colonel John Stuart house,
Charleston, S.C., 1770, and the William Gibbs House, Charleston,
1, Early Georgian
2. pediment s
4. roof pitches
5. full height wall finaneling
2. Out buildings
2. informal planting areas
II. Late Georgian
1. segmental pediments
2. paneled dado to waist with plaster
or wallpaper above
3. pedimented windows
4. larger glass sections in windows
A COMPARISON OF EARLY GEORGIAN AND LATE GEORGIAN ARCHITECTURE:
Wood houses: plain clipboards
Unbroken facade usual .
Corners marked by angle quoins
No entrance portico .
Front door with rectangular transom
Angular or scroll pediment over boor
Windows with many small innes 1.
Plain or corniced windows
Single arched window on stair landing
Steeper roof pitches
Balustraded roof-decks uncommon
Dormers have rectangular windows
Interiors with full-height wall paneling
Several panels in chimney-breast, no
Plain or scrolled step ends on stairs
Classical and baroque decorative mo-
-~ - LATE.
Wood houses: sometimes rusticated
Projecting central pavilion common
Corners often marked by giant pitasters
Small entrance portico or, in South,
Front door with semicircular arched
Segmental pediment over door also
Windows with fewer and larger panes
Pedimented windows often occur
Palladian window more popular for
Inwer roof pitches
Balustraded rooGdecks common
Dormers sometimes have arched win-
Interiors with paneled dado and wall-
One large panel, elaborately framed,
over a mantel shelf
Paneled step ends on stairs
Rococo and Chinese decorative motives
College of Nilliam and Mary, Wren building, 1716.
1. -20076- General view.
2. -4772- General view.
3. -34761- Main facade.
4. -4868- Interior chapel.
5. -72678- Rear view.
Capitol at Williamsburg, 1701-05
6. -4835- From S.E. corner of grounds
7. -17423- General view
8. -4774- General view
9. ~17332- General view
10. -4775- From N. walk showing cupola and clock above.
11. -4855- Close frontal view of facade and gate from west.
12. -5033- Coat of Arms on Old Capitol Building.
13. -17433- Conference room, 1704.
14. -17431- General courtroom, 1704.
15. -25428- House of Burgess, 1704.
16. -34755- Council Chamber.
Governor's Palace, 1706-20.
17. -31635- Exterior.
18. -25383- General view.
19, -25409- Facade.
20, -4887- South elevation.
21. -31636- Rear view from garden.
22, -4782- Ball room wing doorway, added 1751, opens on gardens.
23. -34748- Supper room, 1749-51.
24. -31643- Entrance hall.
25. -31642- Ball room interior, 1706-20.
26. -4888- Formal garden, view looking north, 1706,
Bruton Parish Church., 1711-15.
27. -31633- Exterior.
28. -4832- Exterior.
29. -4833- Gate opening from walk and Palace Green, leading
30. -4854- From church yard.
31. -17439- View toward altar with canopied chair and
Governor's pew, 1715.
32. -31634- Interior.
33. -34754- Interior.
Other buildings at Williamsburg
34. -3-'p.15- Blair (wooden) house.
35. -3- p.16- Blair (brick) house, south front.
37. -3- p. 10- (top) Stratford Hall
(bottom) Capitol, west front.
38. -3- p. 17- Ludwell Paradise house, 1717.
39. -3- p. 12- President's house, Wm. and Mary College
40. -3- p. 11- (top) Governor's Palace. (bottom) Wythe house.
Cupola House, Edenton, N.C., 1715.
41. 546 aae
Robert Morris design for elevation.
Wlestover, Charles City County, Virginia. 1730s34.
-3- p. 14- South Fkont.
-42653- 1st floor plan.
-44213- Front elevations.
-17345- General view.
-17661- South facade.
-42650- Entrance facade,
-42367- Entrance hall.
-17662- Interior stairway.
Drayton Hall, Charleston, S.C. 1738.
110- View from the Northwest.
108- Entrance facade.
109- First floor plan.
107- Plot plan,
111- Detail of the west door.and view from the south,
112- Main staircase.
115- Living room detail,
116- The dining room.
Carters Grove, r;illiamsburg, Virginia. 1750-53.
-6- The South facade.
-17666- South facade.
-6- p. 18- General view.
-6- First and second floor plan.
-6- p. 100- The river side entrance.
-31974- Entrance hall.
-42376- N. side of entrance hall.
-6- Detail of the main staircase.
81. -17669- Stairway detail.
82. -17668- Parlor mantel.
83. -0- p. 106- The east drawing room.
84. -6- p. 104- The dining room and the west drawing room.
Mount Airy, Richmond County, Virginia. 1758-62.
85. -42649~.Garden facade.
86. -42619- Plan.
87, -42645- Entrance facade.
88. -44247- Garden facade.
89, -42617- South facade.
Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia, 1757-87,
90. -33995- West entrance facade.
91. -18785- General view of garden side with porch.
92, -33996- General view,
Dunston Hall. 1758.
93.--21799- Land front with Palladian porch.
94. -17607- General view with garden.
95. -17608- Library.
96. -34727- Palladian room.
97. -17609- Palladian room.
98. -17607- Dining room.
99. -21801- Palladian drawing room.
Edenton, Chowan County Court House. 1767
100. -42725- Street facade.
101. -42724- Plan.
The Colonel John Stuart House, Charleston, S.C. 1770.
102. -6- p. 60- South facade.
103. -6- p. 57- Entrance.
104. -6- p. 56- Entrance detail.
105. -6- p. 59- Drawing room.
106. -6-.p. 58- The ball room.
William Gibbs House, Charleston, S.C. 1775.
107. -42640- Entrance facade.
.108. -42642- Plan.
Floor Plan comparisons:
109. -3- " MD
110. -3- " paneled and scrolled step ends
111. -3- "
* four and five digit numbers from slide library.
Architects Emergency Committee. Great Georgian Houses of
America. New York, 1933.
A fine collection of illustrations of houses of the .- 6 -
Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival styles.
Egerlein, Huggard, American Georgian Architecture.
Pleiades Books Limited, London, 1952.
A monograph on various aspwets of Georgian Architecture
and beautifully drawn illustrations.
Howells, John Meads. Lost Examples of Colonial Architecture
William Helburn Inc., New York, 1931.
Examples of buildings that did not have the good for-
tune of those at Williamsburg.
Kimbal, Fisk. Domestic Architecture of the American Col-
onies and of the Early Republic, Dover Publications
Inc,. New York, 1922.
Covers the history of American domestic architecture 3 -
through the early Republic.
Morrison, Hugh. Early American Architecture. Oxford Univ-
ersity Press, New York, 1952.
A clearly written history of American Architecture
of the colonial and Georgian period.
Pratt, Richard and Dorhty. A Guide to Early American Homes,
A guide book valuable to the traveler searching for
examples of early American Architecture,
Ramsey and Harvey. Small Georgian Houses and Their Details.
Many plates of English Architecture with drawings of 1 -
ornamental details used during the Georgian period.
William, Rotch, Wave. The Georgian Period. 1923.
Photographs and measured drawings of Colonial work
with written text.