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‘ Domestic architecture in America is a long record of various j Jt i
. influences from.many sources, mostly European. America, it is alm0st § ‘5 1
unnecessary to say, lay completely outside the main historical develop— 3 5 3
'ment of European architecture. As it had no building tradition of its : f, 5
i own what did result in the way of architecture was simply a mingling of ; ‘5 ;
:. the various traditions brought to this country by colonists. Until at 5 l i
' least the end of the 19th century, when a genius like Sullivan or Wright 3 J,§
appeared on the scene, it would be well to keep in mind that there was 5 5?
, no particular style developed in America, but merely an adaptation'of cur~ 5 §
. rent European practice, The vague promise of a definitely American "style“ ~ 3
T has haunted the architectural theorist as the vision of the ”great American ‘ W §
novel" troubled the literary prophets, An American style, if there ever be 51%
any such, certainly lies within the future. Ii:
_ The first American colonists, when they landed in the new world, , ‘:fl
1 did not by any means shake off all vestiges of European life, In fact the . 5 $§
f colonist of any time wishes to carry on in the new environment to which he 5 Wfi
. has come, the traditions, the ways of living and thinking that he knew in § 2%
r his native land, In a vast new country, the first colonists were not i W%
; anxious to give up the manner of existence they had known in Europe, nor f id
were they able or willing to change their manner of building. They had to j if
: adapt themselves to new situations and new climatic conditions in a raw, g ii
5 5 savage and untried country which was, however, rich in natural resources. i W?
It was not easy at first to carry on the old building traditions, i g{
but even the first rude shelters contrived by the early settlers bear re— ‘ 5
semblances to the primitive peasant construction of the north European I '
countries, At Plymouth and Jamestown the poorer colonists built huts with 3 1
f low walls of stakes and wattle plastered with clay and roofed with slant— 1
ing poles covered with brush, reeds, and‘clayq These "English wigwams,"
as they were called, bear only a slight resemblance in form to the wigwams f
of the Indians which were made of skins stretched over cut boughs, but E b
there is a marked sinnlarity in construction to English thatched shelters j H
and to the charcoal burners’ huts of Sheffieldu Another type of dwelling ; 1
5 was that known as the "palisaded" house formed of sawn planks driven into § 1
7p the ground° The early settlers at Philadelphia dug out their shelters in f l
the banks of the Delaware, forming the necessary walls and roofs of sods / E
and brush. , 5
: Even the familiar log house built of horizontal logs notched at f 1
, the corners and chinked with clay was not American in origin. This SOrt 3 i
I ' of house was unknown both to the Indians and the English settlers. The l
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E7 Northern Europe was rich in timber, a fact which fostered building in wood. 15
P The same conditions obtained in America where forests Were even more abun- it
; dent so that the log type of construction rapidly came into favor in the P}
g expanding country not only for domestic, but also for defensive purposes. 3?
f Used at first by the English for forts and stockades, it gradually recom— y
Y; mended itself to the pioneer, not only because it made use of the most read~ H
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3 defense against the Indians. Then, too, the pioneer could use, for the g
5 construction of his house, the trees that he had to cut down in order to g
g till his land. It is easy to see how the log house became a part of fron— i
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g Later in the history of the country the log type of construction i
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f longer important and after other building materials had become available. i
E‘ There are, for instance, in western Pennsylvania, a large number of log !
R farm houses still standing which carry on the old pioneer tradition. 1
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; logs have been cut and notched together in a more elaborate manner than ‘fi
1 ' that found in earlier work, but the principles of construction remain the 3
} semen The windows, of course, are glazed, an advance over the early log ‘3
.j house which had only small windows with shutters. The log type of con— jF
Q struction lin ered in western Pennsylvania well into the 19th centur . t;
a I v I?
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f b. The 17th Century Surviyal of thejnedieval Tradition ‘
' For almost a century after the first settlers landed in New
f England there was evident in that section a distinct survival of medieval
f communal life. In the small villages and communities that were settled
- in the colony there is a suggestion of the self—sustaining qualities and I
f the interdependence of the various elements contained in the village that
I was so characteristic of the medieval town. When a New England town was
3 laid out, lands were assigned to each member of the community fromehich
fl land he was required to support himself and his family. The group as a
-I whole produced everything that was needed, either within the family or
'I . . c
4 within the community. There was little dependence on the home country.
The settlers helped build each otherIs houses and helped harvest each
f ‘ other's crops. The village was almost completely independent and, as
I such, reminiscent of a state of existence in England that was already
If passing with the confiscation of the common lands for the benefit of the
',f aristocracy and the first appearance of industrial civilization. Natur~
\ ally the building traditions of this period in New England, in keeping ‘
_ with the general social scheme, were very simple, strong, and vigorous,
-’ making use of native material and the labor that the settlers provided
II ,1 for themselves, but still retaining many features of medieval English
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3 The date of the "raising" is cut in tho SUURLT bonus of the parlor, E
3 "June yo 8th, 1683.” It has ncvor received any additions or alterations, E
' but it to: thornunhlv restored at the time of its acquisition by tne %
: Topsfiold historical Sacicty, fi
3 This is a frrrc house and representative of a type in Nb? Eng» @
5 land which follo“od the precedent or English hdlf tihber architecture. )
The fraying of those 0 rly houses is filled Lith vzrious ratcrials~e x
3 . brick, stone, hit, or dtuhed vettlc, just he in England, but the rmch u
3 colder olirnto of the no? Colvny noccssitmtcfl Sins sort of exterior cov— :
‘ crimp, rchcc the use of clapbetrfis, The Cnpen Houro has also : lining §
l of clay Kirefl iith chrnpcd strut under the pfirlvr floor, aghin for i
3 Uhrflth, as thhrc is a large cellar undernczth. Although it is definitely
3 7 fetturc if this tTFL cf heuac, tho l'rgs certrcl chiwncy, rcxinlSCcnt in .
L : its clibrrxtc forr if English artzplcs nf the period, is flat :riglnal, but
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F a copy from that of the Hunt house in Salem. The overhanging upper story 111%
'L is also a characteristic medieval detail, copied a;ain from English houses, 11ft
a as tore also the heavy carved pendants found so often in Elizabethan arehi- ftii
f tccturo. The first colonists used glazed paper or shutters in the windows, 11 f
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, but later leaded easements. Similar to those of nngland, were used in the 3b 1
1. _ _. w ._ . mi - . . , , , , g 1
;, wetter houses. sash vindows did not come into general use until the mid— ;1 -
v n . : , ‘9 1
dle or the ldth century. M1 3
1 11‘ 1
[ The plan of the Capcn house, Similar in many ways to those of 1H1 a
Essex cottages, is quite simple and adapted to the more or lLSS primitive 11m Q
needs of the tint. (See Figure 4.) The early Net England house usually 1t1 i
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- consisted of on; room on the first flosr and one on the second, but later 11y}
the house was often lengthened beyond the chiflncy, thus pruviding two 311 9
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reur, roofed by an extension of the rear slope of the main roof which gave 1: 1
~ « _ rise to a tyne of house known as the "salt box." If the dwelling con— :11 4
sisted of but one main floor, a large attic fias sometimes added above, 113'
, forcing the “story and a half" or ”half“ type of house. From the period 121:
\ whsn all fa ily activity centered in one room, to the era of a more de— 5:1”
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_ veloped plan With a parlor, dining room, and kitencn, the great Chimney 11a
: still remained the real centxn*of the houSe. 111
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I The John Adams house at Quinccy, MassachuSetts is a goon example :3 1
*_ of the ”salt box” type, and also of a type of house that is found in great J 1
’ numbers on Cnpe God, to the extent that it is often referred to as the '1
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- W_ means limi tud to that Suctlon. 13W 1.51 ,1
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