CLASSICAL REVIVAL HOUSE PLAN
America flexed its aesthetic muscles at the 1893 “World’s Columbian Exposition” and a new style of architecture was born: academically wise, aesthetically superior, remarkably beautiful, the Beaux Arts’ Neo-Classical. We call the style a “revival”, a “neo” for “new” (new-classical), but in truth no particular style was revived, and little there was that was new, except for some few building technologies. Instead, gifted, well-trained architects reimagined every architectural style, adapting each style to a particular use or context, classively. The most elaborate of these styles was the florid French of failed empire, the “Beaux Arts” (Fr. lang. beaux-arts, trans. fine arts). Others have been named “Classical Revival” (the Roman, Palladian, Georgian distilled through Thos. Jefferson); the “Neo-Classical” (solid temple-like, bold in restraint); the “Colonial Revival” (Dutch or Williamsburg); and other, exotic revivals classively measured, Egyptian, for instance. Whichever the style, each shares the adaptation of monumental classical forms. When the style is overdone or poorly conceived, the effect can be pompous, but just a touch of classical restraint and the effect becomes pleasingly dignified. This Classical Revival home is a hybrid Middle-Georgian/Roman/Colonial and is named in honor of the many classical houses of Union Springs, Alabama.
The classical houses of America are first, the primitive hut, the Scandinavian log cabin, and the Cape Cod; second, the Spanish, French, English colonial styles, those simple, few room habitations that remember each motherland and follow, as-much-as budget will allow, the royal fashion. The Classical Revival American house is a third type, a house Enlightenment born (18th Century—1700s), a house designed by reason after nature, conscious of tradition, eager to excel, suited to a child of God, fitted to humane life, polite, good, and neighborly. The Classical Revival house is a family temple composed of rooms that pace a day, that serve revolving needs, that please the hopes of family. There is little difference between Roman basilicas, Palladio’s villas, Georgian mansions, and Williamsburg townhouses, little difference between the Athena Parthenos (the Temple of the Maiden—the “Parthenon”), Smirk’s British Museum, and Robert Frost’s Ann Arbor House, little difference between the houses of Jefferson’s Lawn and the Classical Revival, Union Springs.
Monumental, formal, overwhelmingly bilaterally symmetrical. Bold temple porches seem a stage for the theatrical.
Low pitched, occasionally mansard; balustrades are often employed to hide low roofs. Chimneys tend to be thin, symmetrically balanced, tall, and flanking the house.
Windows are large, celebrated in a framing with classical detail, sometimes each window will boast its own entablature or arch. Long, square, or narrow, the mullions are heavy, likely cruciform.
Structure and Materials
Stone and brick are most common, though modest examples might be of wood; high-style examples are of marble. Think “riches and luxury, and taste”, sometimes refined, sometimes extreme.
Space and Floor Plan
Rational, rectangular masses subdivide themselves within a solid, central box. A center hall bisects the house, dining and kitchen on one side, living and library on the other.
A restrained celebration of entrance, ennobling and formal. Columns, pilasters, pediment, even if lacking the typical two-story temple porch.
Wreaths, swags, putti and other statuary, urns, and the occasional pineapple provide ornament in a comfortable, human-scale.
White, or variations of yellow and beige. Then, brickish, if of brick.
A grand sobriety in the garden, a formal ease in paths, a monumentality in shed, pool house, garage.
As mentioned (above), a great variety attends the Classical house. The purest form might be the Roman as interpreted by the Beaux Arts architects of The City Beautiful, those architects who created, or who were influenced by The Worlds Columbia Exposition, 1893, many of whom are represented in examples above and below.
Classical Revival House Plan Features
This Classical Revival home was designed for a large and active family: Its five bedrooms comfortably support a family of eight. The sizeable footprint encourages adaptation: laundries and extra baths can be moved up from the basement, libraries can become game rooms, an extra stair could lead to an attic studio, et cetera. As it is, the various quarters of the home offer unique experiences: the cozy master suite has a bathroom/spa, a fireplace in the sleeping room, and a private porch; the living room has a refined proportion; the entrance hall is elegant and spacious; the library, cozy; the entrance porch, grand; the patio is suitable to many activities; and the kitchen opens to a living-family room. The three car garage (not shown) is linked to the house by a Mt. Vernon colonnade.
Classical Revival House Plan, #36
2,811 First Floor GSF
1,439 Second Floor GSF
136 Pool House GSF
10’-0” First Floor Ceiling
2 1/2 Bathrooms
Living Room 18’-0” x 27’-0”
Family Room 18’-0” x 15’-6”
Dining Room 18’-0” x 13’-6”
Kitchen 18’-0” x 18’-3”
Study 18’-0” x 9’-0”
Watercloset 6’-0” x 3’-6”
Master Bedroom 18’-0” x 20’-0”
Mater Bathroom 18’-0” x 12’-9”
Stair Hall 12’-0” x 27’0”
Bedroom 2 18’-0” x 11’-6”
Bedroom 3 18’-0” x 11’-6”
Bedroom 4 18’-0” x 11’-6”
Bedroom 5 18’-0” x 11’-6”
Bathroom 12’-0” x 6’-0”
Stair Hall 12’-0” x 27’-0”
Portico 34’-0” x 10’6”
Porch 1 18’9” x 6’-6”
Porch 2 18’9” x 6’-6”
Veranda 49’-0” x 14’-0”
opportunity for aging in place
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Featured image: Classical Revival house plan, Union Springs, #36, Color Elevation. M. Curtis, des.
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