Evertson Hill


Greek Revival in America

We found more examples of the same architectural style as the church, Greek Revival, including two historic houses in the town immediately west of the property, Stanford. A Field Guide to American Houses indicates a reason for the style's prevalence in the area: the period this style was popular nationally, 1830s through the 1850s, coincides with the decades when this part of New York State experienced a dramatic increase in population and prosperity.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Knopf, 2003. Excerpt from Chapter on Greek Revival:


Greek Revival was the dominant style of American domestic architecture during the interval from about 1830 to 1850 (to 1860 in the Gulf Coast states) during which its popularity led it to be called the National Style. It occurs in all areas settled by 1860…and especially flourished in those regions that were being rapidly settled in the decades of the 1830's, 40's and 50's. The style moved with the settlers from the older states as they crossed into Kentucky, Tennessee and the Old Northwest Territory (today's Midwest). It followed the southern planters as they moved westward from the Old South into Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The Greek Revival style even arrived on the west coast, sometimes disassembled into packages and shipped by way of Cape Horn! Each of the principal subtypes of the style shows geographic differences in frequency of occurrence, as noted above.

Not surprisingly, the largest surviving concentrations of Greek Revival houses are found today in those states with the largest population growth during the period from 1820 to 1860. These are, in descending order of growth, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan, Texas, Kentucky and Louisiana. New York gained about 2.5 million persons during the interval while Louisiana gained about ½ million.


The final years of the 18th century brought an increasing interest in classical buildings to both the United States and western Europe. This was first based on Roman models…but archeological investigation in the early 19th century emphasized Greece as the Mother of Rome which, in turn, shifted interest to Grecian models. Two additional factors enhanced Greek influence in this country. Greece's involvement in a war for independence (1821-30) aroused much sympathy in the newly independent United States; at the same time, the war of 1812 diminished American affection for British influence, including the still dominant Adam style in domestic architecture.

The Greek Revival began and ended in this country with public buildings built in Philadelphia. Among the first examples was the Bank of the United States (1818, William Strickland), and one of the last monuments was the Ridgeway Branch of the Philadelphia Library (1870, Addison and Hutton). Most domestic examples date from the period from 1830 to 1860. Among the earliest was a Greek remodeling of the Custis-Lee house in Arlington, Virginia, completed in 1820. The style was spread by carpenter's guides and pattern books, the most influential of which were written by Asher Benjamin (The Practical House Carpenter; The Builder's Guide) and Minard Lafever (The Modern Builder's guide; The Beauties of Modern Architecture).

An important and enduring legacy of the Greek Revival to American domestic architecture is the front-gabled house. Popularized during the ascendance of the Greek Revival style in the early 19th century, this became the predominant form for detached urban houses in cities of the Northeast and Midwest until well into the 20th century. There it occurs in unadorned folk versions, as well as in styled Gothic, Italianate, Queen Anne and Shingle houses. In rural areas, the form of Greek Revival known as gable front and wing likewise remained popular for folk houses until the 1930s.

© 2014 Petrides Homes LLC | Photography by Tim Wilkes