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Hawthorne at Salem

Buildings & Houses

Federal Style Architecture

Federal Style : Introduction

Material prepared by:
Jan Arabas, Department of Art 
Middlesex Community College, Bedford and Lowell, MA

 

Elevation drawing of the Custom House
Elevation drawing of the Custom House(courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
 

A number of influential American thinkers of the late eighteenth and early to mid-nineteenth centuries called for the creation of an American style of architecture. They hoped for buildings that would suit American needs, use native materials, and reflect the American character. Government buildings, as the physical manifestation of our republic, were of special interest. The Federal style of architecture, employed in many of the public structures erected between 1776 and 1820 can be seen as an Americanization of the classical architecture which preceeded it in Europe and the colonies.

Literature Related to the Federal Style

Elevation drawing of the Custom House
Elevation drawing of the Custom House(courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
 

No resources available.

Original Documents Related to Federal Style

  • Notes on the State of Virginia (1781-82) by Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson, an accomplished architect, advocated the use of a classical style of building based on the Four Books of Architecture by Andrea Palladio. These books, called one of the three most influential works on architecture in history, codified the building principles of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Jefferson felt the republican style of the Romans in particular to be appropriate for the new American republic. In 1782, Jefferson published Notes on the State of Virginia, in which he criticized the state of building in America.
  • "American Architecture" in United States Magazine and Democratic Review (1843) by Horatio Greenough
    In 1843, in United States Magazine and Democratic Review, American sculptor Horatio Greenough published his influential essay, "American Architecture". Greenough argued for a truly American building style based on functionality, and argued against the use of Greek and Roman temples, like the Parthenon, as models.

Images Related to Federal Style Architecture

 Federal Style Rollover.

Critical Commentary Related to the Federal Style

Elevation drawing of the Custom House
Elevation drawing of the Custom House(courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
 

No resources available.

Multimedia Related to the Federal Style

Elevation drawing of the Custom House
Elevation drawing of the Custom House(courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
 
Video clip about Federal style architecture 

Websites Related to the Federal Style

Elevation drawing of the Custom House
Elevation drawing of the Custom House(courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)