Colonial Revival

Kirkwood, MO. A typical middle-class example of the 1920s, featuring the standard 3 bays instead of five, single-pane sash windows, rounded pediment over the door, and modest classical trip under the roofline. Auto garages were not yet standard features of homes, still placed separately in the rear.

PERIOD OF POPULARITY: 1895 – 1940 (mostly 1920s, prior to the Great Depression)

INTRODUCTION TO REVIVAL STYLES: Each revival style identifies specifically with an architecture of an earlier time and place, especially those related to early American or European precedents. Several popular revival styles are included on this blog, though other, less popular revival styles also appeared. To classify this grouping of architectural styles presents a challenge, as one could argue that many earlier Victorian styles were similarly revivalist. In fact, one publication includes several revival styles within the larger category of Victorian architecture (Cunliffe, et. al. 2010). The concept of “period styles” has also been adopted by some writers (including this one), though it was an early 20th century term used by non-professionals to romanticize the past. On the flip side are the architectural historians who prefer the more academic “Age of eclecticism” or “Eclectic Era,” which is an important concept to provide historical context here. The Eclectic Era, however, includes both revival and early modern styles that competed ideologically and appeared nearly simultaneously before the Great Depression. For purposes here, then, “revival styles” seems most appropriate, adapted widely across America for use in middle-class homes, wealthy country houses, commercial buildings, early skyscrapers, and civic buildings. Though overlapping with the more picturesque Victorian era, these styles largely gained popularity during the first two decades of the 20th century and heavily influenced our residential and commercial landscapes.

During this time (mostly between 1900 and 1929), accuracy of styles became important once again, unlike Queen Anne style, which borrowed from a variety of sources. Most Important, revival styles look to the past for inspiration. The trend toward revivalist architecture gained momentum from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the Columbian Exposition, where historical interpretations of European styles were encouraged. Simultaneous to the rise of revivalist architecture, the modern era saw its beginnings with architects who were instead looking to the future, not to the past, with more progressive, modernist styles. Thus defines the Eclectic Movement of the early 20th century, which consisted of a simultaneous and perhaps competing interest in both modern and historic architectural traditions. This variety, or eclecticism, provided for one of the most diverse and colorful periods for architecture and urban design in American history, when almost anyone with at least a middle-class income could choose from one of a dozen or more styles for their home.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND FEATURES: The Colonial Revival style was initially inspired by the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, essentially America’s first-ever World’s Fair. The event sparked a new interest in the American colonial past, in contrast to earlier decades when colonial architecture had been dismissed as antiquated or obsolete. Architects were studying colonial styles throughout New England by the 1890’s. A decade later, colonial revival emerged as a dominant style for domestic buildings nationwide and remained popular up through World War II. Earlier Georgian and Adam styles provided the backbone for revival ideas, with a secondary influence of Dutch Colonial (with its characteristic dual-pitched, Gambrel roof). The Colonial Revival style is sometimes referred to as Neo-Georgian, due to its striking resemblance to the earlier Georgian and federal styles.

For More Photos of Colonial Revival on Flickr, Click Here.

Kirkwood, MO. A typical middle-class Dutch Colonial, with its characteristic dual-pitched (gambrel) roof and full-length dormer set on top.


Sturbridge, MA. Public building with neoclassical entry, federal windows, hipped roof, and central cupola.

Durango, CO. Common public building of the 1920s, with Federal-style, round-arched windows, and ballustrade on the roof line.

Savannah, GA. Probably c.1920s, with hipped roof, five bays (early picture windows on the lower floor), inset entry with fanlight and sidelights.

Near Oak Park, IL. Includes palladian-inspired windows, fanlight over the door, a neoclassical portico, quoins on the corners, and classical trim under the eaves.

Near St. Louis, MO. Upper-middle class homes like this one demonstrated more ornate features and were often five bays (five windows across) rather than three.

Plymouth, MA. c. 1914, Post Office. Includes Classical columns and entablature, bilateral symmetry, fanlight over the door, and Georgian-style dormers and cupola.

5 Responses to “Colonial Revival”
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  1. […] design a few landmark Colonial Revival style homes: the Appleton House and the HAC Taylor House. As shares, within ten years Colonial Revival became the most popular architectural style for […]

  2. […] Want to know more about the history of the Colonial Revival?  There’s a great overview of the style here. […]

  3. […] Colonial revival | architecture, landscape, and urban design Kirkwood, mo. a typical middle-class dutch colonial, with its characteristic dual-pitched (gambrel) roof and full-length dormer set on top.. […]

  4. […] of the property’s long historical lineage but because the house is considered an example of Colonial Revival architecture due to the remodeling the Geyer family did in the mid-1930s. The owners decided to update the house […]

  5. […] home Stahl created for his client was a typical Colonial design from this era. At the time the Colonial style was very popular throughout the country, harmonizing […]

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