Romantic Architecture: Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Glimpse into the Past
The onset of Valentine’s day this year has us working with full hearts and feeling nostalgic about the, often elusive, romance of our practice. Yes, even architects fall victim to the sentimentality of Valentine’s Day. While modern design has a tendency to command the room, it is nice to take a step back once and a while and appreciate styles of architecture that defined epochs and left a mark on our history. While there is certainly something romantic and alluring about the abundance of glass and contrasting metals throughout modern design, the timeless beauty of some of the world’s oldest structures cannot be denied. To honor these often overlooked works of art and the upcoming holiday, we compiled a list of structures that exude classical romance and would send even the most stone-hearted of beings to their knees.
Greek Revival Architecture
Greek Revival architecture gained popularity in America in the mid-19th century as many Americans believed that ancient Greece was representative of the spirit of democracy. The style began showing up on the East Coast in public, government buildings and soon spread down the Eastern United States. The romantic style became very popular for expansive southern mansions and plantations. Greek Revival architecture can be characterized by the use of pedimented gable, symmetrical shape, heavy cornice, wide, plain frieze, bold moldings, a large entry porch with large columns, decorative pilasters and narrow windows in both sides of the front door. See images below for some of the most iconic examples of Greek Revival architecture.
Gothic Revival Architecture
Gothic Revival architecture, another of the three best known Romantic architecture styles, is much more ornate and dramatic in it’s overall aesthetic. Over the years, many churches have been designed in Gothic Revival style. Structures designed within Gothic Revival guidelines may exhibit a steeply pitched roof, cross gabled, decorated vergeboards, pointed-arch windows, stained glass, Gothic arches, and are picturesque, yet contain unpredictable floor plans. The following images are famous example of this historic style of architecture.
Italiante architecture, the last of the big three historic romantic architecture styles, began seeing popularity in England and by the 1830’s, had spread to America where architects were choosing to put their own interpretation of the style into their design. Because of this, we don’t many examples of traditional Italiante architecture in the United States. You can see many suggestions of the style in homes around the country, but there is a historic neighborhood in Washington, DC that is said to most accurately reflect the European style. Italiante architecture is recognized by its use of wide projecting cornices with heavy brackets, richly ornamented windows, porches and doorways, brick and wood clapboard, low pitched roofs, and modest porches. Italiante doors were the first to have large panes of glass in the door itself rather than two small windows placed on either side of a solid door. Look through the following images to understand more about Italiante architecture and its distinguishing features.
The above described architecture styles all certainly have ‘romantic’ manifestations in the way that we understand the word today, but truly they are romantic in the traditional sense of the word which is referring to the dominant Victorian Era of our history. These styles were popular during the ‘romantic’ period of time. It is because of the foundations that these iconic styles of architecture have left behind that we come to arrive at modern day ‘romantic’ architecture. While it may be more difficult to confine these next homes and buildings to one of these three styles, it’s hard to deny that the inspiration is there. Here are some, in the modern-day sense of the word, truly romantic places for you to day-dream about spending some time in this Valentine’s Day.