Greek Revival Architecture And Its Impact On The World

Architecture can be an interesting study for anyone! There are so many different styles and designs that it’s impossible not to get engulfed in the beauty of your favorites. So when you come across one to fall in love with, it can be magical.

Greek Revival ArchitectureImage from WHA Architecture and Planning, PC

One type of architecture that the whole world once fell in love with is Greek Revival Architecture. This style of architecture never ages and seems to get more and more beautiful as time goes on. But what is Greek Revival architecture? 

What Is Greek Revival Architecture?

Greek Revival architecture is an architecture that was inspired by and the designs used back then. Things may have changed since then but the inspirations remain the same, the materials have simply changed.

Real Greek architecture isn’t considered Greek revival architecture. This is the difference between authentic Dutch homes and Dutch Colonial homes. Both are fabulous but one is a variant of the other. 

One easy-to-spot Greek Revival Architecture can be found in Washington D.C. Almost every building near the Capitol can be considered Greek Revival. Notice the overall appearance of the White House itself. 

History Of Greek Revival ArchitectureImage from Vision Investment Group NOLA

It is believed that a British architect named James “Athenian” Stuart first introduced Greek Revival architecture to Britain in the mid-1700s. He was inspired by the architecture found in Greece when he visited.

He was well known because of his published called Antiquities of Athens in 1762. It was the first reference book to Classical Greek architecture. After he died, Europe carried on his legacy by honoring this new revival. 

However, it wasn’t until the 19th-century that Americans truly pulled this revival into high gear. They were so focused on this revival, that Greece became the primary inspiration for high-end homes in America. 

What Is Considered Greek Revival Architecture? Image from historicalconcepts

Greek Revival architecture is always inspired by classic Greek architecture. So most of the features of Greek Revival architecture are the same as what is found in Greek architecture. The first feature is easy to guess. 

Pillars

This is probably the easiest feature to spot and the most common feature of Greek architecture in other countries. In Greece, the pillars are actually less popular than they are in other parts of the world.

They were originally reserved for palaces and stadiums but slowly made their way into the mainstream building. Pillars are always load-bearing and this was their original purpose, but in Greek architecture, they are a feature piece. 

Pilasters

Pilasters are similar to pillars only they are not load-bearing and don’t have any purpose other than to look good. They are featured in other types of architecture but are most common in Greek architecture. 

Pilasters are built around walls and particularly corners rather than left freestanding. They can be found as a veneer or as a plaster built onto the walls. They are usually square as opposed to rounded like pillars. 

Small Inclines

This doesn’t mean that all Greek Revival architecture needs to have an incline. It simply means that if it does have an incline then the incline needs to be shallow rather than steep. If it is steep it may look cathedral-like.

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While there are authentic Greek cathedrals, most places of Greek worship will look more like classic Greek architecture. The inclines on the roof will be soft and the buildings will look flatter and wider. 

White MarbleImage from Haver & Skolnick LLC Architects

To this day, white marble is a primary inspiration for those interested in all things Greek. The white marble of Ancient Greece was a thing of kings. Back then, it was a miracle just moving the heavy rocks around.

Today, the white marble of Greece is often faked out with other less expensive materials. But the gist is the same. People want that sleek and shiny look for their homes that white marble adds as nothing else can. 

Open Layout

From the outside, you may not be able to tell what the inside of a Greek Revival home looks like. But on the inside, there’s a good chance that it is open-concept. Greek buildings were often very open-concept.

But to be fair, most homes during this time were easier to ventilate and regulate. It was also simply unnecessary to add extra walls during this time when bathrooms and indoor plumbing were non-existent. 

High Ceilings

High ceilings were common in Greek Revival architecture. Most of the buildings were one single story which left the pillars holding up a large expanse of roof. The first and only floor looked quite large inside.

Again, from the exterior, this didn’t show, but when you walk inside, you can see that the ceilings are large and often decorated. The classic painted ceilings were often done in Greek buildings to draw the eye towards the heavens. 

PlasterworkImage from Alair Homes Arlington

Plasterwork is very important in Greek architecture. Sometimes entire buildings were built with plaster. This is a very old and common in nearly every country. Because almost every country has the means to make palster.

But in Greek architecture, intricate designs were often used to create masterpieces. Weeks and months would be spent to create these sculpted pilasters and more out of plaster. Today, the art has all but died. 

Porticos

Porticos were the original Greek porches. In fact, the word porch comes from the Greek word Portico. Stylistically, true porticos are generally held up by Greek pillars and offer shade outside of the home.

More often than not throughout history, fair skin was a sign of wealth. So porticos were designed to keep the sun from darkening the skin of those in Ancient countries. That belief held up for centuries. 

Greek Revival Architecture In The Modern World

There are many modern-day projects and many projects over the last two hundred years that have Greek Revival architecture. We have gathered some of the most amazing projects to show off to inspire you.

An 1830s New York ChurchAn 1830s New York ChurchProject from Skolnick Architecture and Design Partnership

This wooden church was built in the 1830s and encompasses what Greek Revival architecture can be today. It was a methodist church until the church left in 2008 and it was converted into a culture facility. 

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The facility was restored to its original Greek design with its designers saying, “Our approach recognises the rich history of the facility, while celebrating contemporary interventions that facilitate a transcendence of typology.”

Staying At A Greek Hotel

You may forget that you’re not in Greece when you stay at this New Orleans Garden District hotel. The interior of the hotel may have mixed cultures and designs but the exterior is almost fully Greek Revival. 

It’s called the Henry Howard Hotel and was designed in the 1860s. From columns to galleries to all things Greece, this amazing hotel is one of the most accurate depictions of a Greek Revival building in America. 

One Of The Few Greek Revival HomesProject from hendrickschurchill

This is one of the very few modern-day Greek Revival homes. The home was built in 2019 and was created by a family who was in love with Greek culture. You would assume the home has been standing for centuries.

The exterior of the home is quite modern in comparison but the exterior looks just like the original Greek Revival homes built in the 1700s and 1800s. It is proof that it is possible to build a home like this to this day.

Philadelphia Museum Of Art

You haven’t seen true Greek Revival architecture unless you’ve visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Like the Smithsonian, this museum features Greek architecture throughout and is picturesque in appearance. 

Frank Gentry’s project has been worked on time and time again. It seems like each time it only gets better and is restored to its original form. What makes a really good remodel is simply a de-model, so to speak. 

The First Female AIA Medal Received By…

The American Institute of Architects has named Californian architect Julia Morgan as the first female recipient of the AIA Gold Medal. It was simply over 50 years too late! Julia Morgan passed in 1957 after blessing us with her life’s works. 

But a piece of her heart, which is left in the form of the Hearst Castle mansion and St. John’s Presbyterian Church remains. It is due to these masterpieces that she received the award, one of the highest architectural accolades in history. 

Creating Greek Revival Architecture

You can use the list above to create your own Greek Revival architecture. But the important part is making it your own. Greek architecture in general isn’t about creating a cookie-cutter home for others to enjoy.

One popular Greek proverb goes something like this. “My home, my little home, a little house of my own.” Because that’s what your home should be! A home of your own that is made to be appreciated by you.

Don’t follow trends just for the sake of following trends. Follow them because that’s what makes you happy. When we create spaces that we feel proud of, and at peace in, then we can spread that peace to others. 

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