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Federal

Peak Popularity ~ 1780 - 1830

The Federal period got it name because it's birth and the birth of our nation were more or less simultaneous.  This style is sometime called Post-Colonial or Adamesque - Federal.  In 1784 a Scotsman named Robert Adam visited the ancient ruins and excavations of Herculaneum in Italy.  Mr. Adam and his brother made many drawings of many designs from the ruins and returned to England to start a style that the furniture designers, Sheraton and Chippendale would further enrich.  By the late 18th century, these ancient design elements had crossed the ocean.  Given subtle variations by native carpenters and architects it emerged as our own Federal style.

Note: There are only subtle differences between Georgian and Federal styles.  The main feature is the rounded or fan shaped window over the front door and the sidelights, a small portico with columns and balustrades.

Defining Features

  • Fan light over door - Almost always rounded, rarely squared

  • Front doors with side lights
  • Columned portico porches - Classical Greek detailing of doorway. Palladian windows and Balustrades
  • Dentil moldings under the eaves
  • Columned fireplaces
  • Corner cabinets
  • Round or oval shaped rooms in larger homes - The most famous federal-style "oval room" is undoubtedly the Oval Office of the White House.
 

 

Examples

Gracie Mansion - New York

 

The Federal House - Painting by Harry Devlin

 

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