Antebellum architecture of the Southern United States

Monday, 3 December 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Architecture
Reading Time:  9 minutes

Rosedown Plantation House in St. Francisville, Louisiana © Z28scrambler/cc-by-sa-3.0

Rosedown Plantation House in St. Francisville, Louisiana © Z28scrambler/cc-by-sa-3.0

Antebellum architecture (meaning “prewar”, from the Latin ante, “before”, and bellum, “war”) is the neoclassical architectural style characteristic of the 19th-century Southern United States, especially the Deep South, from after the birth of the United States with the American Revolution, to the start of the American Civil War. Antebellum architecture is especially characterized by Georgian, Neo-classical, and Greek Revival style plantation homes and mansions.

Exterior: The main characteristics of Antebellum architecture viewed from the outside of the house often included huge pillars, a balcony that ran along the whole outside edge of the house to offer shade and a sitting area, evenly spaced large windows, and big center entrances at the front and rear of the house to add to the box like style of the mansion. These mansions also often included grand gardens with geometrically cut bushes to complement the symmetry of the house.

Interior: The interior of these mansions were just as extravagant as the outside. Common features included enormous foyers, sweeping open stairways, ballrooms, grand dining rooms, and intricate design work. The design work included intricate shapes and patterns made from plaster used to adorn walls and furniture. It was also used to create wood and floor designs. Many plantation houses still standing are of this style, including:

Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee © flickr.com - Jim Bowen/cc-by-2.0 Barrington Hall in Roswell, Georgia © Galen Parks Smith/cc-by-2.5 Barrington Hall in Roswell, Georgia © Galen Parks Smith/cc-by-2.5 Evergreen Plantation House in Wallace, Louisiana © Clément Bardot/cc-by-sa-4.0 Goodman-LeGrand House in Tyler, Texas © Billy Hathorn/cc-by-sa-3.0 Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi © Library of Congress - Carol M. Highsmith Millford Plantation House in Pinewood, South Carolina © Library of Congress - Jack Boucher Myrtles Plantation House in St. Francisville, Louisiana © Bogdan Oporowski/cc-by-sa-3.0 Nottoway Plantation House in White Castle, Louisiana © Bogdan Oporowski/cc-by-sa-3.0 Rosedown Plantation House in St. Francisville, Louisiana © Z28scrambler/cc-by-sa-3.0
<
>
Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee © flickr.com - Jim Bowen/cc-by-2.0
The features associated with antebellum architecture were introduced by people of British descent who settled in the Southern states during the colonial period and in U.S. territories after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 along with a wave of immigration from Europe in 1812. Great numbers of Europeans seeking economic opportunities emigrated to America after Napoleon‘s defeat and the end of the war of 1812. This new wave of entrepreneurs began to dominate not only the economy, but also the architecture of the first half of the 19th century. A prime example of the influence of immigrants in antebellum architecture is Stanton Hall. The Hall was built by Frederick Stanton, an immigrant from Ireland who made his fortune in trading cotton. The design was based on the Revival style. The Hall also goes to show the increasingly connected national and global economy in which antebellum architecture emerged. The house used mantel pieces from New York, gasoliers from Philadelphia, and mirrors from France. Similar to many antebellum homes, Stanton Hall was built using a fortune Stanton made trading cotton. During the Civil War, like many other plantation houses, the Hall was occupied by Union soldiers. President Andrew Jackson‘s home the Hermitage is another prime example of both antebellum architecture and the social conditions in which it arose. It was built in the Federal style, which while losing favor in the more trendy East was still popular in Western slave states like Tennessee. Later, renovations made the house more in line with contemporary stiles, adding Doric columns and making it more Classical and Revivalist in appearance. Not just reflecting the cultural differences between the West and East in this time, the Hermitage also was part of the South’s slave-based economy. The Hermitage was an active plantation which grew the period’s dominant cash crop, cotton. By the time of his death, Andrew Jackson owned 150 slaves who lived and worked at the Hermitage.

After the Civil War, many antebellum houses were gradually converted from family homes into private schools. Many of these homes were supported either by plantation slavery or by other businesses supported by slavery, so with the end of slavery often came the end of the financial means of supporting such lavish buildings. Stanton Hall, for example, was owned by the descendants of Stanton for several decades after the Civil War, but eventually the financial burden was too much and it became the Stanton College for Young Ladies. Today most antebellum buildings serve as museums. These museums, especially the museums located at former plantations, often attempt to show both sides of the architectural style. While celebrating the beauty of the buildings, they also tell the story of the slaves who worked the land. Boone Hall is a prime example of modern antebellum museums. The museum uses nine of the original slave cabins built between 1790 and 1810 as part of its “Black History in America” exhibit. In the exhibit, each cabin presents different aspects of slave life on the plantation. While the style’s history remains controversial, exhibits like these are important in exposing the public to America’s history with slavery.

The debate over whether or not to preserve Antebellum Homes is an ongoing one. Some argue that because these lavish homes were built from fortunes created through slavery, oppression, and cruelty it is not ethical to preserve them because they serve as a reminder of American slavery. Others argue that because these homes have historical significance they should be maintained. Movies like Gone with the Wind and 12 Years a Slave are examples of Antebellum homes portrayed in pop culture and many Antebellum homes today even serve as tourist attractions. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the South and damaged or destroyed many antebellum buildings. This destruction once again raised the question of whether or not these buildings, as symbols of a wealthy society propped up by slavery, should be preserved or not. For example, Grass Lawn, an antebellum mansion in Gulfport, Mississippi, was totally destroyed by the hurricane. As the community began to raise funds to rebuild the mansion, it faced resistance from parts of the community who opposed the symbolism of the mansion. Though it eventually passed through city council, the bill funding the reconstruction was at first even voted down. Many prime example of antebellum architecture did not receive the same support as Grass Lawn. In the wake of Katrina, cleanups of cities often did not follow the guidelines of the National Historic Preservation Act. Hundreds of properties were destroyed with little hope of being reconstructed or commemorated. The sometimes considerably different evaluation of this architectural style in Europe and America is due to the fact that the European “Greek Revival” style is based on the old Greek temples and thus aims at culture and science, while the American “Antebellum” style is a reminder on plantations, slaves and slave trade.

Read more on 9 Grand Antebellum Homes Rich in History and Stunning Southern Design, thoughtco.com – About Antebellum Homes Before and After the War, ExploreGeorgia.org – Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, AntebellumTrail.org, American colonial architecture, Wikipedia Southern United States – Antebellum years und Wikipedia Antebellum architecture (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Marne-la-Vallée and Disneyland Resort Paris

Marne-la-Vallée and Disneyland Resort Paris

[caption id="attachment_159774" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Lagny-sur-Marne - Town Hall © Benjism89[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Marne-la-Vallée is a new town located near Paris, France. Marne-la-Vallée has been gradually built up since the first plans in 1965 and now covers an area of over 15,000 hectares and includes 26 communes, in the départements of Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne. Total population (2007) is 282,150. For administrative purposes, the area has been divided into four sectors: N...

[ read more ]

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria

[caption id="attachment_160892" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Orlov Most junction © Boby Dimitrov[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula. Sofia has been ranked by GaWC as a beta- world city. Many of the major universities, cultural institutions, and businesses of Bulgaria are concen...

[ read more ]

Key West at the southwesternmost end of the Florida Keys

Key West at the southwesternmost end of the Florida Keys

[caption id="attachment_151753" align="aligncenter" width="590"] US Southernmost point © Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Key West is a city in and the county seat of Monroe County in Florida. The city encompasses the island of Key West, the part of Stock Island north of U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway) (east), Sigsbee Park (north, originally known as Dredgers Key), Fleming Key (north), and Sunset Key (west, originally known as Tank Island). Both Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park are part of Naval Air Station Key We...

[ read more ]

Malcesine on Lake Garda

Malcesine on Lake Garda

[caption id="attachment_160721" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Malcesine and the castle on Lake Garda © Ciccius 88[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Malcesine is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Verona in the Italian region Veneto, located about 120 km northwest of Venice and about 40 km northwest of Verona. Malcesine lies on the shores of Lake Garda. Its most prominent landmark is the Castello Scaligero, which has 13th-century fortifications and an older medieval tower. Remnants of an Etruscan tomb have been found ...

[ read more ]

South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan

South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan

[caption id="attachment_165639" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Smallbones[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The South Street Seaport is a historic area in the New York City borough of Manhattan, centered where Fulton Street meets the East River, and adjacent to the Financial District. The Seaport is a designated historic district, and is distinct from the neighboring Financial District. It is part of Manhattan Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan, and is bounded by the Financial District to the west, southwest, and north; the East ...

[ read more ]

Great Synagogue in Plzeň

Great Synagogue in Plzeň

[caption id="attachment_227886" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Otto Domes/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Great Synagogue (Czech: Velká Synagoga) in Plzeň (Pilsen), Czech Republic is the second largest synagogue in Europe. A Viennese architect Max Fleischer drew up the original plans for the synagogue in Gothic style with granite buttresses and twin 65-meter towers. The cornerstone was laid on 2 December 1888 and that was about as far as it got. City councillors rejected the plan in a clear case of tower envy a...

[ read more ]

The Thousand Islands

The Thousand Islands

[caption id="attachment_153033" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Just Enough Room Island © Omegatron/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Thousand Islands constitute an archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River as it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario. They stretch for about 50 miles (80 km) downstream from Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian islands are in the province of Ontario, the U.S. islands in the state of New York. Passenger air service to the 1000 I...

[ read more ]

Salamanca in Castile-León

Salamanca in Castile-León

[caption id="attachment_153341" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Plaza Mayor © Stef Mec/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Salamanca is a city in northwestern Spain, the capital of the Province of Salamanca in the community of Castile and León. Its Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. With a metropolitan population of 229,000 in 2012 according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Salamanca is the second most populated urban area in Castile and León, after Valladolid (414,000), and ahead of...

[ read more ]

Colonia Tovar, the Black Forrest village in Venezuela

Colonia Tovar, the Black Forrest village in Venezuela

[caption id="attachment_2055" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="Colonia Tovar - Hotel Kaiserstuhl © Fev"][/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Colonia Tovar (Tovar Colony) is a city located in the Tovar Municipality of the state of Aragua in Venezuela, 60 km west of Caracas. The town was named after Martín Tovar y Ponte who donated the land over 150 years ago, and was founded by Agostino Codazzi. The city is mainly known for its Germanic characteristics, culture, and a dessert called "golfeado", which is very similar to a cinnamon...

[ read more ]

Castaway Cay in the Bahamas

Castaway Cay in the Bahamas

[caption id="attachment_152623" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay © EmbraerSkyPilot[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Castaway Cay is a private island in the Bahamas which serves as an exclusive port for the Disney Cruise Line ships Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. It is located near Great Abaco Island, and was formerly known as Gorda Cay. It is owned in full by The Walt Disney Company, giving them substantial control over the experience of visitors to the island. A post offi...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
in Split © Ivan T./cc-by-sa-3.0
The Seabourn Odyssey

The Seabourn Odyssey is a cruise ship for Seabourn Cruise Line. The ship's keel was laid in early July 2007,...

© salewskia/cc-by-sa-4.0
Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles

Wilshire Grand Center is a 1,100-foot (335.3 m) skyscraper in the Financial District of Downtown Los Angeles, California. It is...

© Usien/cc-by-sa-3.0
Kaufingerstraße in Munich

Neuhauser Straße is part of the first and largest pedestrian zone in Munich's Old Town. Here is a large number...

Close