Architecture is the art or practice of designing and building Structures. American architecture varies significantly from architecture of the ancient world. American architecture began around the seventeenth century. Settlers from different European countries brought with them, during the North American colonization, the different techniques and forms from their homelands.
Domestic architecture is produced for the social unit: the individual, family, or clan and their dependents, human and animal. It provides shelter and security for the basic physical functions of life and at times also for commercial, industrial, or agricultural activities that involve the family unit rather than the community. The basic requirements of domestic architecture are simple: a place to sleep, prepare food, eat, and perhaps work; a place that has some light and is protected from the weather. A single room with sturdy walls and roof, a door, a window, and a hearth are the necessities; all else is luxury.
The colonial architecture of the United States and Canada was as diverse as the peoples who settled there: English, Dutch, French, Swedish, Spanish, German, Scots-Irish. Each group carried with it the style and building customs of the mother country, adapting them as best it could to the materials and conditions of a new land. Thus, there were several colonial styles. The earliest buildings of all but the Spanish colonists were medieval in style: not the elaborate Gothic of the great European cathedrals and manor houses but the simple late Gothic of village houses and barns. These practical structures were well adapted to the pioneer conditions that prevailed in the colonies until about 1700, and few changes were needed to adapt them to the more severe climate. The styles were frank expressions of functional and structural requirements, with only an occasional bit of ornament.
So far as is known, no single new structural technique or architectural form was invented in the North American colonies. Colonial architecture was adapted by the climate of the site chosen, the availability of building materials, and supplies. Skilled workers, particularly trained builders were a must. The general poverty of the colonial settlers was also a factor. Colonial architecture can be broke down into two types.
New England settlers architecture reflected the late Gothic Inspiration, such as the gabled houses of wood. The houses also had prominent brick chimney stacks. The south's chief building material was brick. Many churches and statehouses reflected the classiness of the eighteenth century English architecture. During the early 1730's a growing prosperity and commerce brought an influx of well-trained artisans to America. English architectural books became more available.
Protestant churches adopted and simplified the contemporary English styles. Architects such as Christopher Wren and James Gibbs, designed many of these churches. Two American examples of these churches were Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and St. Pauls Chapel in New York City, New York. Architecture, previously reserved for the gentleman amateurs and master builders, became more professionalized in the first half of the nineteenth century. The arrival of several well known European architects, including Benjamin Henry Latrobe, greatly enhanced the field. During the Antebellum period, the south built great mansions.
Many were two-story colonnades on large plantations. The shift from earlier Roman based classicism to Greek. Many Greek buildings were located in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, Barnstable county, southeastern Massachusetts, U.S. It is bounded by Cape Cod Bay to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south, Vineyard Sound to the southwest, and Buzzards Bay to the west. The county comprises the whole of Cape Cod and its satellite islands, including a band of territory northwest of Cape Cod Canal (completed 1914). This coastal lowland has many lakes and streams, notably the Herring and Mashpee rivers. Parklands include Cape Cod National Seashore, Scusset Beach State Reservation, Shawm e-Crowell State Forest, and Washburn Island, as well as Hawks nest, Nickerson, and South Cape Beach state parks.
The area is known for its lighthouses, windmills, and early American architecture. The principal towns are Barnstable (the county seat), Yarmouth, Falmouth, and Sandwich (the county first European settlement; 1637). Woods Hole, at the southwestern tip of the cape, is the home of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory. In November 1620, before landing at Plymouth, the Pilgrims sheltered at what is now Provincetown, where they signed the Mayflower Compact.
The main Indian inhabitants were the Nau sets and Wampanoags. Mashpee is the site of the Indian Meeting House (1684), one of the first Indian missionary churches in the eastern United States. In the last years of the 18th century, when space became scarce, a series of major changes began to alter radically the physical lineaments of the area. In this period of expansion, the architect Charles Bulfinch (17631844), who for more than a quarter of a century was also the head of the town government, skillfully transformed an 18th-century English town into a 19th-century American city. Although many of Bulfinch finest works have been destroyed, the central portion of the present State House (179598), above the Common on Beacon Hill, is his work. The construction of the State House on this site led to the conversion of the upland pastures of Beacon Hill into a handsome residential district that has survived with relatively little change.
Between the State House and Charles Street are several streets, including famous Louisburg Square, filled with many houses by Bulfinch and other leading 19th-century architects. The area is protected by historic district legislation, and has been designated as the Beacon Hill Historic District.