American Greek Revival, American Empire

  • As an expression od democracy and national culture, America wholeheartedly embraces Greek Revival for numerous structures ranging from banks to courthouses, cottages to mansions. Architectural details derived from Greece, Rome, and Egypt and simple wall treatment signal Grecian interiors.

Greek Revival: Temple forms, the Greek orders, and simple white exteriors define American Greek Revival buildings. Grecian-style interiors in America are plainer and simpler than are those of Europe. Bolder architectural details and walls treated as one expance mark the style.

American Empire: American Empire furniture tends toward greater simplicity than does European, although forms  and ornament derive from classical prototypes as in Europe.


They include egg and dart, bead, and dentil molding, triglyphd and metopes, honeysuckles, anthemions, acanthus leaves, and the fret or key. Interior motifs include sphinxes, battered or pylon forms, paw feet, Egyptian or classical figures, lyres, harps, swans, dolphins, eagles, caryatids, serpents, arabesques. and columns.

Architecture- Public Buildings


  • Banks
  • Retail Establishments
  • Govenment and public works buildings
  • Offices
  • institutions
  • Colleges
  • Bridges
  • Monuments
  • Memorials

Quincy Market

Merchant’s Exchange

Tresury Building

Tennessee State Capitol

Site Orientation:

  • Designers strive to isolate public buildings

Floor Plans:

  • Plans are usually rectangular and suitable to building function
  • Most are symmetrical and oriented around important circulation spaces
  • Room may vary from square to round


  • Usually local stone, granite, marble, and brick
  • Wood appears in more rural areas
  • Public buildings often combine trabeated and arcuated construction by using columns along with vaults and domes.


  • Temple fronts depicting the classical image and the Greek orders
  • Most building have porticos on both ends of the building
  • Walls are flat with few projections
  • Scale may be larger than that of the originals


  • Rectangular and double hung
  • Arched, round, or Palladian are rare
  • Decortive surrounds – pilasters, lintels, or pediments


  • Entrances are important grangly treated with pilsters and columns
  • Tops are flat ot have a pediment
  • Surrounds may be further embellished.


  • Roofs are usually low- pitched gables
  • Some building have flat roofs with balustrades
  •  Domes and cupolas denote important spaces

Architecture- Private Buildings


  • Common Houses
  • Southern Plantations
  • Row Houses

Texas Governor’s Mansion

Linden Row

Site Orientation:

  • In rural landcapes
  • along tree-line streets in cities of town
  • urban row houses

Floor Plans:

  • Rectangular spaces again define plans
  • Residences have few circular or apsidal rooms
  • The symmetrical, double-pile or Georgian plan of central hall with flanking rectangular rooms


Clarke House floor plan


  • Most house are made of wood
  • Northeast are of brick, stone, or granite
  • Cast iron may be used for details


  • Temple fronts are difinitive with columns on fronts only
  • Doric most common column
  • Rectangular porches and porticoes may be full or partial width and have double or single stories.


  • Rectangular, may have double or triple sashes
  • Exterior shutters are common
  • Wimdow surrounds are plain
  • Window on masonry have lintels over them


  • Door reflect the trabeated consruction system in shape and ornament
  • Rectangular light above the door with flanking sidelights
  • Glass may be plain or have etched designs


  • May be flat without balustrades
  • Low-pitched gables
  • A few are hipped
  • Some have rectangular or ctlindrical cupolas.

Interiors- Public Buildings


  • Color comes from material like stone and marble
  • Somber colors for wall, gray or drap
  • Many walls are marbleized


  • Candlesticks
  • Argand lamps
  • Astral lamps
  • Lanterns
  • Large window for natural light

Astral Lamp


  • May be masonry, marble, or wood
  • Some spaces have wall-to-wall carpet


  • Bold architectural details in important spaces
  • Some walls are wallpapered or painted without a dado


  • Plain or complex moldings surround the window
  • In important rooms, lintels or pediment surround the windows


  • Doors into important area are grand with columns or large molding
  • Doors may be single or double in paneled wood painted


  • Some are plain with a plaster rosette
  • Others may have coffers

Interiors- Private Buildings


  • The Romantic intrest in nature- moss green, fawn brown, stone gray
  • By mid-century colors like lilac, peach, bronze green, sage, and salmon are fashionable.


    • Candlesticks
    • Argand lamps
    • Astral lamps
    • Lanterns
    • Large window for natural light
    • Candelabra
    • Wall sconces
    • Elegant cut-glass chandeliers


  • Affuent houses have marble or masonary floors
  • Painted floors to imitate marble
  • Carpets


  • Walls are treated in one large expance with paint or wallpaper
  • Bold decortive moldings
  • Baseboards are deeper than before
  • Rectangular stone mantels


  • Plain or complex moldings surround large rectangular windows
  • Some have lintels or pediments


  • Plain or complex moldings surround the doorways
  • Battered moldings reminiscent of Egyptian gateways
  • Doors are mahogany, walnut, or rosewood


  • Carved or cast plaster medallions or rosettes embellish the centers
  • Other ceilings are plain

Frunishings and Decorative Arts


American Empire Arm chair

Hitchcock Chair





Chest of drawers




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