Types of Architectural styles

April 16, 2015
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Pennsylvania has a rich architectural history that reflects the broad patterns of settlement, growth and change across the sixty-seven counties of the state. While no standing buildings remain of Native American construction, some buildings from the earliest day of European settlement have survived. Historic structures from all eras are present in Pennsylvania, but since the state saw its greatest development in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century, buildings from this period are more plentiful. This website offers information on common historic building types and architectural styles from the 1700s through 1960s in our state. Additional information about historic architectural styles and building types can be found on the PHMC's other webpages concerning historic agricultual resources, historic schools and historic suburbs including the post World War II building boom.

Pennsylvania has examples of a wide variety of regional and national architectural styles, spanning not just the eras, but also showing a broad range of design purity. Some buildings are high style, architect-designed, pure examples of distinct styles, but most are more vernacular in design, a blend of styles and cultural influences. The historic buildings of Pennsylvania encompass many themes from government, education, agriculture and industry to religion, recreation and commerce. Some architectural styles were modified for specific functions and some styles developed specifically for special uses. This guide to architectural styles commonly found in Pennsylvania includes examples of residences, churches, theaters, schools, railroad stations, banks, taverns, hotels, commercial buildings, government offices and farm complexes. These examples provide some hint of the depth and breadth of Pennsylvania's architectural heritage.

This guide is intended to help those interested in historic buildings to better understand and evaluate commonly seen properties in our state. The form, massing and architectural details can help to place a building within a certain time context and offer clues as to its use and origin. All of the architectural styles included in this guide are well represented in PA. Many of the styles presented here can be seen throughout the state, the country, and beyond, as some stylistic trends crossed national boundaries. Some styles and building types are unique to Pennsylvania or the Mid-Atlantic region. Those are perhaps the most interesting in that they reflect a strong vernacular tradition and have close ties to those who first settled the state. The styles are listed in approximate chronological order beginning with those found in the earliest settlement period and ending with those popular in the mid-20th century.

Source: www.phmc.state.pa.us
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