Georgian House Plan
Georgian House Plan: The Hanover
We were British, subjects of King James when first we settled in Jamestown (1607). We were culturally Shakespearian*, engaged in all things British. We were patriotic, though divided in the English Civil War. We cheered the Restoration and the return of monarchy (the Virginia Cavaliers, et alia*); well, most did. We were faithful to our country’s traditions and eager for the fashions of our London capital. We followed the taste of king, queen, and nobility. We were ambitious to become the proud ornaments of the kingdom, to achieve excellence in the arts of pictuary, statuary, building. Yet, early we showed ourselves to be rather less officious, rather more neighborly, and though we dutifully followed the Roman Renewal of England, I don’t know, the imperial pomp-and-circumstance seemed a pretense. We were polite, yes, “close-to-the-chest”, you might say, upright, domestically public, comfortable and homey. You will notice, the American Georgian is communitarian, an architecture of community, rather than the architecture of authority.
Georgian House Plan, Hanover Features
Stately and strong, this American Georgian home lives large. Approaching up the lane, a Doric temple porch opens to view. You notice the home’s confidence, its firm grounding, its substantial mass bilateral in symmetry, its unity of parts with but little surprise in variation. As expected, the windows are sashed, that distinguishing innovation of the Georgian, six-over-six paned; the structure is bricked, the roof is properly hipped, and there is the relaxed prettiness of a fanlight, but little else in outward decoration. Here is a house accomplished, plain-spoken, superior to the crouchings of fashion.
From the ennobling pediment, beneath the fanlight, through a substantial brass-handled door you enter the proud stair-hall with its ascending measured steps. From here you look past the Hall through the rear portico to the garden terraces which open to the rolling country view. Within the high ceilings of the Hall are flanking fireplaces deep and substantial, and clustered to these mirrored options in seating. To your right will be the large working kitchen, sufficient to prepare meals for 100. Next-to, the Dining Hall wherein is a surrounding, Arcadian wall-pictured scene. To the left, the master suite, four rooms sufficiently large to form its own house: the sitting room snuggled with fireplace and library, the vaulted bedchamber with heirloom king-bed, a roomy, luxurious bathing room, and a proper closet suitable to accommodate all necessities of dress and preparation.
Topping the measured steps, a second story stair-hall opens to the family’s room, flanked by hearths, formed for gathering and spread-out projects. There is a gaming room suitable to pool-table and other amusements. There is a suite for in-laws, guests, or servant, and there are two bedrooms sufficient for four children, each set with its own bathing room. Then, the three sets double-doors that open onto an expansive balcony where past heroic columns a view that opens to God’s grandeur. There is a three-car garage, a full basement, and other rooms necessary to service and convenience.
English architecture is Roman architecture in seed, trunk, branch, leaf, and root, and Britan, “Britannia”, is Roman by name**, by turn of mind, by history and ascendence. This Romaness began with Julius’ conquest, a conquest that concluded in Claudius Caesar’s victory. With victory, the Roman villa, fortress, town and shrine were planted on the island, as were Roman ways, the laws, manners, and habits. Britian’s became Roman. Nine Roman emperors were for some time resident in Britannia: Septimus Severus’ died at Eboracum (York), Carausius crowned himself emperor, Constantius I died defending the Antonine Wall from the Picts, Constantine I was declared “Augustus” by this troops, et cetera.
Since the 5th Century fall of empire, British architecture has been a continuance of Roman tradition in revival and renewal: the Romanesque (a Roman continuance), the Norman and each Roman Renewal, St. Mary’s Kempley to Quinlan Terry. Recall that Andrea Palladio, a Venetian who measured and adapted antique Roman forms to suit the composition of his villas, composed a guide to building adapted from Vitruvius (an Imperial Roman architect). Palladio’s book, The Four Books of Architecture prompted George I to commission an English facsimile from Giacomo “James” Leoni, The Architecture of A. Palladio in Four Books, 1715. Leoni Anglicized, some say, “improved” upon Palladio. Another book that will have pleased the cultural ambitions of King George, Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus, 1725, an ambitious undertaking. Yet, one book more than any other made the Roman Revival accessible to Britons of the extended empire, James Gibb’s Book of Architecture, 1728.
Each book had its champion, and each champion his argument, and all arguments served to refine taste, prompt innovation, and encourage excellence. George III, a skilled practitioner of architectural drawing, publicly urged and sometimes commissioned buildings of the highest standards, yet it was the aristocrats and the rising middling class who rose to taste and practiced excellence. Witness the well-measured houses of Williamsburg whose simple sheds and stables attest to refined taste and sturdy judgment. We might say, “the Williamsburg outhouse is of a higher architectural order than the McMansion and the McModern, and most skyscrapers of the starchitect and stale architect”. The Classive nature of the Anglo-Roman embodies a gravitas worthy of a people who by liberty might lead the world into civilization.
* Shakespeare’s The Tempest is based upon source material before 1610, perhaps the founding of the Virginia settlement, Jamestown, 1607. In my notes (apology, cannot find them just now) there are records of Shakespeare’s plays being performed shipboard in the Atlantic in the decade’s following his death; and there is a 17th Century record of an Indian gifting the works of Shakespeare to a British officer.
** The Washingtons, the Madisons, the Marshalls were Cavaliers all, Royalists who fled to Virginia in hope of escape from bloody Cromwell. Here, always like to share this tidbit: John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, et cetera, was “Secretary for Foreign Tongues” in Cromwell’s Commonwealth.
*** Derived from the writings of the geographer Pytheas (born, circa 350 B.C.) who mapped the northern reaches and described the Hyperboreans, those people beyond Boreas (the “North Wind”), and while in the land of the Hyperboreans, Pytheas recorded in his journal the “midnight sun”, the summer solstice of the Arctic Circle, et cetera.
Late Georgian Characteristics
Symmetrical masses of two stories and more. A delicate symmetry and detailing, with an Adamesque lightness refinement.
A hipped roof lower in pitch than the Early and Middle Georgian. Often, the balustrade that hides the roof.
Windows are six-over-six, shallowly recessed. Palladian and elliptical windows become common.
Structure and Materials
Wood frame or masonry construction. Sometimes, decorative limestone or terra-cotta panels.Walls and columns can be of masonry, brick, or wood; wood being most common.
Space and Floor Plan
Double-pile in plan, two or three stories in elevation.
A central doorway often flanked by sidelights and topped by a semi-elliptical fanlight. Pilasters and columns become prominent.
In simple homes, ornament might be stripped to bare essentials, not unlike the Early Georgian; in grand homes, ornament is fully articulated.
The color becomes pastel, highlighted in white. Brick is occasionally whitewashed. The roofs continue green, as do the shutters. Door color is often left to the owner’s whim.
A formal, geometric garden that demonstrates the logical mastery over nature’s chaos, a triumph of man’s will, and God’s order. Think of man putting a horse through paces in dressage, and, well…
*for a detailed history, see “Your House: Style and Period, Georgian“.
Georgian House Plan, #10, The Hanover
5,600′ Square Feet
3,158′ First Floor
2,542′ Second Floor
2 Water Closets
Ext. Wall Construction Wood Clad over stick frame
Roof Framing beam and truss
Roof Pitch 6:12 (25%, ¼ pitch)
Ceiling Main 9’-0”
Ext. Wall Construction Brickover stick frame
Roof Framing beam and truss
Ceiling Main 11’-0”
Great Hall 31’-0” x 23′-9″
Dining Hall 16′-2″ x 24’-0”
Kitchen 16’-2” x 26′-4″
Pantry/Laundry 9′-0″ x 4′-0″”
Water Closet 1 9′-0″ x 4′-0″
Water Closet 2 10′-0″ x 4′-0″
Stair Hall 21′-6″ x 11′-9”
Master Bedroom 16′-2″ x 16′-2″
Dressing Room 16′-2″ x 16′-2″
Bathing Suite 16′-2″ x 16′-2″
Sitting Room 16′-2″ octagon
Garage 22′-0″ x 37′-0″
Bedroom 2 16′-2″ x 8′-10″
Bedroom 3 16′-2″ x 14′-5″
Bedroom 4 16′-2″ x 18′-10″
Water Closet 1 10′-2″ x 6′-0″
Water Closet 2 10′-2″ x 6′-0″
Water Closety 3 10′-6″ x 11′-9″
Stair Hall 21′-6″ x 11′-9″
Family Room 31′-0″ x 23′-9″
Recreation Room 14′-2″ x 21′-3″
Attic full length
Portico 34′-5″ x 12′-6″
Logia 31′-0″ x 12′-9″
Balcony 31′-0″ x 12′-9″
first floor powder room
upstairs bedrooms & bath
in-law suite or home-office
extensive bathing suite
Georgian House Plan
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