Greek Revival - Table of Contents
American Athens: Greek Revival Architecture in Western New York State
Photos and Text by James Battaglia
07/13/00. Do not use without permission.
In the early 19th century, Americans began building structures inspired by the architecture of classical Greece. Throughout the young nation, Americans lived and worked in gleaming white temple form buildings. This style, known today as the Greek Revival, came to dominate middle class taste after the United States had achieved some political stability and economic prosperity.
In New York State, the Erie Canal, completed in 1825, brought wealth to many residents. For the next thirty years, many New Yorkers chose the Greek Revival style for their new homes and community buildings.
In the 1850's, Greek inspired designs gave way to those based on Gothic and Italian precedents. By 1860, the Greek Revival era had ended. Today, many Greek Revival buildings remain in western New York, principally in rural areas.
Some builders in the Greek Revival were professional architects whose elegant works were based on archeological discoveries. More commonly, local craftsmen, using those same Greek decorative details, created unique folk structures. Because those joiners sometimes used classical detail as they pleased, their buildings show a remarkable variety. Yet, they show a coherency that makes examples easily identifiable. The photographs presented here depict the unity and variety evident in Greek Revival structures from eleven counties in western New York state.
Click on photos for larger size and information under each photo