Victorian style architecture

From 1850 until 1895, the architecture in Georgia evolved from basic Greek revival styles to the enormous steel-frame skyscraper. Between them the two, builders and architects employed many styles while the state was enduring the horrors of conflict, Reconstruction, as well as economic recessions. The postwar period was characterized by an increase in wealth due industrialization, urbanization and expanding production of cotton production as well as increasing rail transportation throughout Georgia.

From the 1850s through around the year 1870, Italianate as well as Second Empire constructions were constructed throughout Georgia, however, the majority of churches were constructed of the less well-known Gothic revival. Between the 1870s’ end and in 1895 Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne styles prevailed. Both styles were later substituted, however, by Neoclassical style as the turn of the century approached.

Victorian style doors

In the Victorian time period doors were typically paneled and intricately cut with intricate carvings. They would be covered by a door frame that had an impressive architrave in order to complement the door. occasionally carved, painted or grained in order to look more expensive.

Check Victorian style front doors →

Greek Revival

In 1850 , the most important style of architecture in Georgia and the United States and Georgia was Greek revival. Significant commissions such as that of The Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville (1838) by Charles B. Cluskey contributed to the creation of an appetite for Greek revival across the state which lasted until the 1850s. Characterized by grand columned porticos, low-pitched roofs often with triangular pediments, entablatures, and rectangular/symmetrical construction, Greek revival became common throughout Georgia.

Savannah was an center of architecture in the state The city’s wealthy business and merchants invested their wealth in cotton into new buildings for commercial and residential use that were slightly altered Greek revival style, which was altered to fit the city’s narrow lots. With flat or low rooftops, windows that were symmetrical in positioning with raised entrances and one-story porticos with square columns The new structures were usually designed by recently arriving architects, such as John Norris of New York. John Norris. Greek revival structures include the U.S. Custom House and commercial structures in Bay Street, and row houses such as those of the Gordon Block and Mary Marshall Row.

Greek revival It was, however, not restricted in Savannah throughout the 1850s. In 1856, Charles Sholl and Calvin Fay joined forces to create an official state hospital (Powell The Building) in Milledgeville featuring a three-story soaring portico that was built in The Greek Ionic order. Local builders also participated in the style of popular art. In the far southwest part of the state the architect/designer John Wind built the impressive Greek revival structures of Cedar Grove Plantation and the Thomas County Courthouse. The abundant Cotton Belt region of central Georgia was soon covered with huge colonnaded houses like the ones from John Thomas Grant in Athens the city that is today located in the President’s House in the University of Georgia as well as Austin Leyden in the rapidly growing railway central in Atlanta.

Despite the dominance of Greek revival as a style, more romantic or beautiful structures that were built in Gothic revival or Italianate styles started to pop up during the prosperous decade of 1850. Decorated Gothic designs were included in the State Capitol in Milledgeville in the 1820s, however they didn’t reflect the widespread use of arches with pointed arches as well as asymmetrical floor plans, crenelations or buttresses, steeply sloped roofs and gables and trellised verandas which were the most prominent traits of the style in the 1850s. The most striking instance that exemplifies this Gothic fashion is in the 1853 Green-Meldrim House in Savannah by John Norris.

Gothic Revival

Not suited to the harsh climate of southern Europe However, Gothic revival was used extensively in church architecture in and following the Victorian period. This was due to the belief that the passionate Christianity during the Middle Ages, which gave the birth of the Gothic style, ought to be replicated. The first Gothic Revival churches to be built in Georgia included St. John’s Episcopal in Savannah built around 1850, by New York architect Calvin Otis. Much more like an English country church, rather than an impressive cathedral, St. John’s has distinctive arches that are pointed, buttresses and massive hammerbeam trusses that line the interior. Following its construction during the Civil War (1861-65) The majority of religious groups hired an increasing number of renowned architects to build Gothic Revival churches. Atlanta is an excellent example of the continued popularity of the Gothic revival style in the latter part of the Victorian period. William H. Parkins created his Roman Catholic Church (later Shrine) of the Immaculate Conception in a simplified Gothic revival style in 1869. Edmund G. Lind established the Central Presbyterian Church in 1885.


The Italianate style however proved to be more effective in comparison to it’s counterpart, the Gothic revival style due to the fact that it was simpler to construct and maintain. It was based on Italian Renaissance buildings, the style comprised several rectangular blocks, often grouped together in asymmetrical ways. Low pitched roofs generally included wide eaves, which were supported by brackets, and usually covered with lanterns or cupolas. Other ornamental features included arches with segments or round shapes window hoods, classical features as well as one-story porches. Italianate homes can be very elaborate, like the extravagant Hay House (1855-59) located in Macon and John Norris’ Mercer House (designed at the time of 1850 but not finished before in 1870) situated in Savannah.

Another outstanding example of this style are in the state of Georgia and include Joel Hurt’s Dinglewood (1855) located in Columbus as well as Woodlands located in northwest in Georgia. The building was constructed in the 1850s under the direction of Sir Godfrey Barnsley, the latter is an Asymmetrical Italian home constructed of blocks that are connected by the central tower. It is a stunning illustration of the latest design of architecture at the period. The grounds today are called Barnsley Gardens, are open to the public.

The construction of little importance was not a priority during the 1860s. In the 1860s, Civil War and the resulting in the poverty of the Reconstruction period left little time for the high-end architecture. Railroads have been rebuilt, and even expanded when cotton production slowly returned levels prewar by 1882. The wealth created by cotton and new manufacturing facilities for textiles gave the money to construct numerous new structures in the period following the economic downturn of 1873.

The 1860s and 1870s, Italianate and the similar Second Empire style with its distinctive mansard roof were commonly utilized in all kinds of structures across the state. Built of simple, symmetrical blocks both styles of construction are well-suited to the contemporary urban environments of postwar and are able to be expanded in the future without much difficulty. The ornamentation could be basic window hoods or more intricate quoins, voussoirs or balustrades with turned posts. Public buildings such as Savannah’s police barracks in 1870 (architect J. H. Boggs) Atlanta’s 1869-70 Kimball House Hotel (William H. Parkins) as well as the 1874 Moore College Building in Athens (Leon H. Charbonnier) were Italianate structures, with the latter two having mansard roofs. The more elaborate structure is the 1876 Southern Mutual Insurance Company Building located in Athens. It featured receding and projecting bays within the enormous block of the structure . It was decorated with quoins massive window molds, as well as an amansard roof that was punctured with massive dormers, and supported by the bracketed cornice.

The early 1880s however the Italianate as well as Second Empire styles were decidedly outdated. Modern ideas, techniques and architects created new styles of architecture , including Queen Anne, Romanesque, and Neoclassical. Economic prosperity in the 1870s until 1893 made it feasible, and often required to construct new buildings with the most modern designs or using the most recent technology, including steel-frame and fireproof constructions with hydraulic elevators. In the 1890s, the first skyscrapers appeared within Atlanta (the Equitable Building by John Wellborn Root and Daniel Burnham from Chicago) as well as in Savannah (1895 Citizens Bank by G. L. Norrman in the Chicago style of Louis Sullivan). It wasn’t until 1895 that steel-frame skyscrapers started to appear in Georgia.Queen Anne

In general, architects flourished throughout this time. Their most famous style is Queen Anne, and striking examples are still visible across the country. It was characterized by open floor plans with a central area of a huge size as well as extensive porches and an exterior that reflected the different sizes and layouts of rooms inside. Perfectly suited for the south-facing climate, Queen Anne residences tended to be built with a wide range of materials, often in an intricate arrangement of shingles, spindle work as well as brick and masonry mixtures and terra-cotta accents. The most extravagant homes could feature towers, turrets belvederes (open observation areas built into the top of a tower) and porte cocheres. the gazebos that were built at the corners of porches as well as a range of bay windows, as well as ornamental chimney stacks.

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