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Greek Revival Architecture – A New Renewal of Greek Style

Greek Revival Architecture(1825-1860) is the revival of the Ancient Greek Architectural style. It follows the simplicity and splendor of Ancient Greek structures of the 5th century B.C. In particular, the Greek temples were an inspiration for their symmetry and proportion.

In the United States and northern Europe, Greek revival was at its peak demand from 1825-1860. One of the primary reasons for its popularity is the development of Greek culture at that time, and also the awareness of Ancient Greek art. Architects and Archeologists studied the ancient Greek style and its orders(Doric and Ionic) since it was considered an expression of local nationalism and civic virtue.

Greek Revival may be considered as the last phase in the development of Neoclassical Architecture.

One of the significant elements of Greek Revival is the painted white columns that resemble white marble used in Ancient Greece temples such as Parthenon.

Characteristics/Features of Greek Revival Architecture

  • Greek Temple-front façade with tall columns in wood or stucco
  • Painted white columns to mimic marble
  • Greek order columns
  • Pilasters
  • Entablatures
  • Structures rendered in stucco/wood/brick/stone
  • Covered portico entrances
  • Gabled roofs
  • Elaborate door surrounds and front façade
  • Interiors
    • Simple open layouts
    • Proportions
    • Plain plaster walls and ornate plaster ceilings
    • Wide plank floors
    • Sash windows
    • Interior moldings

Examples of Greek Revival Architecture

1. The Grange, Northington

Greek Revival
Image source: pinnedonplaces.com

The Grange is listed on the National Heritage List for England.

  • Building: The Grange, Northington
  • Function/Use: Country House; Mansion
  • Location: Hampshire, England
  • Date of construction: 1804
  • Architect: William Wilkins, Charles Robert Cockerell, Frederick Pepys Cockerell
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Massive Doric Portico
  • Materials Used: Brick, Roman cement, Portland stone
  • Façade: In 1662, the house was an impressive four-story redbrick residence. Later in 1804, it was transformed into an Ancient Greek Classical temple. The Doric portico of the façade resembles Choragic Monument. There were further additions, including a single-story west wing, an extension of the park and gardens, and an orangery conservatory with a four-columned Ionic portico as its East elevation.

2. Brandenburg Gate

  • Building: Brandenburg Gate
  • Function/Use: City Gate
  • Location: Berlin, Germany
  • Date of construction: 1788-91
  • Architect: Carl Gotthard Langhans
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Doric columns, quadriga statue.
  • Materials Used: Sandstone
  • Façade: Brandenburg gate is one of the most famous landmarks in Germany. The sandstone structure is composed of 12 Doric columns that create five portals—the middle of which was originally reserved for royal use only—and stands approximately 66 feet (20 meters) high, 213 feet (65 meters) wide, and 36 feet (11 meters) deep. It is flanked by two small buildings, Haus Liebermann and Haus Sommer. The gate is decorated with reliefs and sculptures designed by Gottfried Schadow, the majority of them based on the exploits of Heracles. In 1793 a quadriga statue depicting the goddess of victory bearing a symbol of peace was added. (From Brinannica.com)

3. Fitzwilliam Museum

Image source: fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
  • Building: Fitzwilliam Museum
  • Function/Use: Art and antiques museum
  • Location: University of Cambridge
  • Date of construction: 1842
  • Architect: George Basevi 
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Temple front façade, Grand portico
  • Materials Used: Brick, stone, stucco
  • Façade: Fitzwilliam Museum comprises one of the best collections of art and antiques in the United Kingdom. It includes five various departments with galleries for holding these collections – Antiquities, Applied arts, Coins and Medals, Rare Manuscripts and printed books, as well as paintings. The structure with a majestic patio with Corinthian columns supported by an entablature and a pediment, the symmetry and proportion of these architectural elements create an elegant architectural masterpiece.

4. La Grange Terrace, La Fayette Place

Image source: flickr.com
  • Building: La Grange Terrace, La Fayette Place
  • Function/Use: Series of Greek Revival townhouses
  • Location: Lafayette Street, New York
  • Date of construction: 1832
  • Architect: Alexander Jackson Davis, Ithiel Town, James H. Dakin
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Listed on the National Register of historic places
  • Materials Used: Marble
  • Façade: The Row was of a series of nine buildings, out of which four remain at present. The buildings each contained 26 rooms with deep front yards. Their façades were made of marble and are linked with a colonnade of Corinthian columns.

5. Madewood Plantation House

Greek Revival
Image source: toptenrealestatedeals.com

Madewood Plantation house is one of the finest Greek Revival Plantation houses in the American South.

  • Building: Madewood Plantation House
  • Function/Use: Sugarcane plantation house
  • Location: Napoleonville, Louisiana
  • Date of construction: 1846
  • Architect: Henry Howard
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: A National historic landmark
  • Materials Used: Brick, stucco, stone
  • Façade: It is a two-story masonry house built with brick walls and finished with stucco. The façade resembles a Greek revival temple front which comprises six Ionic columns with five bays. The columns rise to meet the Entablature and a triangular pediment with a semi-circular louver in the center. The upper-level gallery has a carved balustrade. A rectangular wing on the right side and an L-shaped wing on the left edge flank the primary block.

6. Federal Hall

Greek Revival
Image source: http://www.iloveny.com
  • Building: Federal Hall
  • Function/Use: National Memorial
  • Location: 26 Wallstreet, Manhattan, New York City
  • Date of construction: 1842
  • Architect: Town and Davis, John Frazee
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Doric colonnade, Domed Rotunda
  • Materials Used: Tuckahoe marble, Granite
  • Universal value: U.S. National Register of Historic Places, U.S. National Memorial, U.S. Historic district, New York City Landmark.
  • Façade: The original building served as New York’s first City hall, whereas the current structure was a U.S. Customs House. Its columns (colonnade of Doric columns) and steps replicate the design of the Parthenon. The façade resembles a classical Greek temple with its wide steps and colonnade that dominate Wall street. In the Interior, a grand Rotunda soars 60 ft to a central oculus, while it is supported by 12 granite Corinthian columns. The George Washington statue was erected in 1883 on a pedestal in front of the front exterior.

7. Brooklyn Borough Hall

Greek Revival
Image source: mergili.at
  • Building: Brooklyn Borough Hall
  • Function/Use: City Hall
  • Location: Downtown Brooklyn, New York City
  • Date of construction: 1846-51
  • Architect: Calvin Pollard, Gamaliel King
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Temple front façade
  • Materials Used: Tuckahoe marble, Granite, cast-iron
  • Universal value: U.S. National Register of Historic Places, New York City Landmark
  • Façade: This imposing Greek Revival-style structure is clad in Tuckahoe marble. A monumental staircase leads to an entrance with six fluted Ionic columns supporting a triangular pediment. The cast-iron cupola, designed by Vincent Griffith and Stoughton & Stoughton, is an 1898 replacement for the original, which burned in an 1895 fire that also destroyed part of the interior. The statue of Justice, part of the original plan, was finally installed on top of the cupola in 1988. (from nyc.gov)

8. Caleb T. Ward Mansion

Greek Revival
Image source: silive.com
  • Building: Caleb T. Ward Mansion
  • Function/Use: Historic home
  • Location: Ward hill, Staten Island, New York
  • Date of construction: 1835
  • Architect: George B.David
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Temple front, rectangular cupola
  • Materials Used: Stucco, Brick
  • Universal Value: U.S. National Register of Historic Places, New York City Landmark
  • Façade: It is a three-story building with a two-story portico having four Ionic columns in front. A large rectangular cupola crowns the building. The rear façade has a one-story covered piazza supported by six piers.

9. Bocage Plantation

Image source: en.wikipedia.org
  • Building: Bocage Plantation
  • Function/Use: Historic plantation house
  • Location: Darrow, Ascension Parish, Louisiana
  • Date of construction: 1801,1837
  • Architect: James H. Dakin
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: giant columns, double gallery
  • Materials Used: brick, stone
  • Universal Value: U.S. National Register of Historic Places
  • Façade: The original house of the Bocage plantation was built in 1801. As it was destroyed by fire in 1837, the plantation was rebuilt again with the features of Greek Revival architecture. The distinctive features of the façade include giant order columns that form a double gallery, entablature with the design of pediment, cornice as well as the front staircase which was added in the 2008 restoration. The upper gallery opens into a sitting room on the floor, where other rooms open into each other.

10. Wunsch Building

Image source: mad-nyc.com
  • Building: Wunsch Building
  • Function/Use: Former as a church building, At present school administrative offices
  • Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States of America
  • Date of construction: 1844-1847
  • Architect: Exterior restoration – mad-nyc.com
  • Historical Influence: Ancient Greek Architecture
  • Key Features: Temple front façade
  • Materials Used: Masonry
  • Façade: Wunsch building is a Greek Revival temple front façade built in brick with wood columns, entablature with a triangular pediment that crowns, and the entrance stairs along with its symmetry and simplicity in design.

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