Federal Style Homes

Homes Have Balanced Proportions
and Light-Filled Rooms

Ubiquitous up and down the East Coast, Federal-style architecture dates from the late 1700s and coincided with a reawakening of interest in classical Greek and Roman culture. Builders began to add swags, garlands, elliptical windows, and other decorative details to rectangular Georgian houses. The style that emerged resembles Georgian, but is more delicate and more formal. Many Federal-style homes have an arched Palladian window on the second story above the front door. The front door usually has sidelights and a semicircular fanlight. Federal-style homes are often called “Adam” after the English brothers who popularized the style.

Federal Style HouseHouses

Homes had balanced proportions and light-filled rooms. Fireplace openings were reduced in size; they often had a central tablet in the frieze, which might be treated architecturally, and they often had flanking columns or pilasters. Side-lights around doorways and fan-lights above them gave light to halls. Wood-paneled rooms gave way to walls hung with textiles and wallpapers. Furnishings adopted architectural "Roman" details and small tables and desks multiplied in their specific types. Designers began to look to France rather than England for styles. The most familiar furniture made in the Federal style is that produced by Duncan Phyfe in New York

Architects of the Federal period

  • Federal Style HomeAsher Benjamin
  • Charles Bulfinch
  • James Hoban
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Minard Lafever
  • Pierre L'Enfant
  • Benjamin Latrobe
  • John McComb, Jr.
  • Samuel McIntire
  • Robert Mills
  • Alexander Parris
  • William Strickland
  • William Thornton
  • Ithiel Town
  • Ammi B. Young
Modern reassessment of the American architecture of the Federal period began with Fiske Kimball, Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and the Early Republic, 1922

Suggested Home Styles Books

See also