Federal Age 1789 – 1865

Significant Dates
1800: Completion of first White House Federal style heavily influenced by Georgian architecture.

1803: Louisiana purchase. America's territory expands past the Mississippi River. Westward immigration begins in earnest.

1812 — 1815: War of 1812. The war marks a shift from America's dependence on English trade and architectural forms. Adamesque architecture wanes in popularity after the war.

1814: British forces burn the first White House and much of Washington DC.

1825: Erie Canal is completed, speeding the immigration of European settlers into the western territories.

1830: United States Capitol completed. The Greek Revival building is the model for many later public buildings, prompting the style to become known as the "National" Style.

1837: City of Chicago incorporated. By 1860 it has become the largest city in the region and the center of America's growing industrialization.

1861—1865: US Civil War. The war marks the end of the popularity of Federal architecture. Much of the historical architecture of the Southern states is destroyed during the war.

Federal Era buildings predominated post-colonial America, from the creation of the U.S. Constitution to the start of the Civil War. Most civil government buildings were Federal in design, and Federalist houses were very popular throughout the American settlements, especially in New England.

Architecture of the American Federal Era embraced the optimism and boldness of the growing nation, and marked a gradual trend toward the unification of forms between the regions. A more harmonized pattern of national architecture was beginning to emerge.

Adam Shortly after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, the Federal, or Adam, style became widely popular throughout the newly unified country. Based on the designs of British architect Robert Adam, this style incorporates many features found in Georgian homes, such as cornices with tooth-like dentils or other decorative molding and double-hung windows with six panes in each sash. Additionally, they often incorporate an elliptical fanlight over the front door, with side lights and decorative crowns as ornamentation.

Greek Revival While most stylistic details from the Federal period draw upon English architecture, the era is also marked by a revival of Greek forms, through which America began to define its own emerging architectural independence from its European heritage. Considered America's first unique architectural style, Greek Revival architecture was so common during the middle part of the 19th century that this also came to be known at the National Style. Greek Revival exteriors may include an entry porch supported by square or round columns, decorative pilasters, hipped or gabled roofs, transom windows and side lights surrounding the front door. These buildings often had flat roofs and colonnades inspired by the monuments of ancient Greece.

Federal Hardware The local blacksmith still produced the majority of hardware during the Federal Era, although the practice of machining pieces was increasing. While casting was still infrequently used, brass hardware was growing in popularity. Typical hardware motifs include the rope, bead, acanthus leaf, and Grecian wreath. Hardware common to this era includes the Norfolk latch, cast butt hinge, and decorative sash lift. Innovations include the latch backplate, the first mass-produced building screws, and hardware for the newest architectural fashion: built-in closets.

Reproduction Federal Age Hardware