About Classical American Homes
By Richard H. Jenrette
Some of America’s finest homes were built in classical Greek or Roman style in the early 19th-century – like Edgewater, shown above, built in 1824 on the Hudson River in upstate New York. Our early Presidents were in the forefront of popularizing the classical style in their own homes: witness George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Madison’s Montpelier, James Monroe’s Oak Hill, and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. To that list, one can add the White House, itself. All feature massive colonnades in the classical manner across their front facades. Greek Revival mania soon swept the nation, lasting until the mid 19th-century and recurring periodically in the 20tth-century.
My own interest in classical architecture, undoubtedly stimulated by growing up in the American South and watching Gone With the Wind too many times, reached a fever pitch in the late 1960s when I acquired not one but two spectacular examples of classical residential architecture in America – Edgewater, shown above, and Roper House built in 1838 in Charleston, South Carolina (see below). These two acquisitions set the tone and direction for what was to become a fascinating lifetime hobby – collecting and restoring old houses and antiques of the period.
Forty-five years have passed since then and during this time I have bought and restored a dozen old houses, all in the classical American architectural style that so captivated me.