Neo-Colonial Architecture
in Historic Chatham, Virginia

By Henry Mitchell.
60 North Main Street

60 North Main Street shows both Neo-Colonial detail and American Foursquare form.

From around 1890 to 1910, a building fashion trend emerged in which classical forms of Georgian and Federal architecture began to be applied to new construction. In some cases the buildings were basically asymmetrical, complex Queen Annes. Other examples involved simpler and boxier forms similar to the older Georgians, Federals, and Greek Revivals, and their new counterparts the Homestead Houses and Foursquares.

As a result of this eclectic approach, Neo-Colonials can be as hard to recognize as some Queen Annes — and especially so in Chatham, where almost all Queen Annes come with Neo-Colonial components and vice versa.

Features often seen on Neo-Colonial houses include porthole and cameo windows, Palladian windows, louvered shutters, distinctive dormers, dentil cornices, porches with railings and classical columns, round-fronted porches; and on frame houses, clapboards and corner boards.

Note: Some writers refer to this type of house as “Colonial Revival.” For this series of articles, this author is reserving that designation for designs later in the twentieth century, for which the entire external form more thoroughly imitates the earlier antecedents.

(See also architectural pattern books from the period, containing Neo-Colonial examples.)

252 North Main Street

252 North Main Street's simple roofline, symmetrical structure, and Palladian gable window are all exemplary of Neo-Colonial style, and yet its turreted wraparound porch is a noteworthy Queen Anne example.

214 South Main Street

At 214 South Main Street, the reverse is true, in that the porch is utterly Neo-Colonial, but the form of the building behind it tends a bit more toward the Queen Anne form.


This website and its portal are sponsored by Mitchells Publications.