Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy President's Day, Mr. Jefferson

President's Day is normally reserved to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I don't think these great men will mind sharing the spotlight today with Thomas Jefferson, the father of Greek Revival architecture.

After the American Revolution and the War of 1812, the new United States of America wanted to distance itself from all things England including its architecture. Jefferson, a big fan of ancient Greek and Roman styles, appointed Benjamin Henry Latrobe as surveyor of public building to execute his vision. Latrobe interpreted these ancient styles often incorporating his own elements of decoration such as:
tobacco leaves,
and magnolias.

Latrobe's Second Bank of the United States is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture.
Sympathizing with Greece's struggle for independence from the Ottoman empire, America fell in love with all things Greek. The appetite started with public buildings but spread to the homes--the temples--of America's wealthy merchants, quickly becoming called the "National Style."
Architectural pattern books such as Asher Benjamin's The Practical House Carpenter, then made the Greek Revival home available to everyday Americans, from farmhouses in Vermont and Upstate New York to coopers in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
All along the Eastern United States, you will find these homes in communities built in the first half of the 19th Century. This style dominated the landscape until the Civil war.

So, on this President's Day, we salute you, Mr. Jefferson, for this beautiful American invention.


  1. I love this post! Very interesting! You love your Greek Revival ~ :)


  2. I got married at the Hellenic Center in Ipswich(sp?) google's a gorgeous example of Greek revival..owned by the Greeks of course. Ps. I didn't receive an email message from you..odd. I thought I was going to receive a message because blogger told me i would. Good night!