The Federal Era of American Architecture, which occurred from 1789 through 1865, is known to mirror the “optimism and boldness of a growing nation” by incorporating the contemporary details of the English architecture and the resurrected motifs of the Greek architecture. During this age of architecture, America was growing and changing, from the U.S. Constitution being written to the beginning of the Civil War. The majority of civil government buildings were designed and built during this error and are of the Federal design as well as many houses throughout the settlement areas of America, especially in the New England area. Many styles of architecture emerged during the Federal Era of American Architecture, such as Adam style, Greek Revival and Antebellum.
The Adam style of this era became popular throughout the nation right after the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The characteristics of this style of American architecture are based on the designs of a British architect named Robert Adam and includes cornices that have decorative moldings such as tooth-like dentils and front door ornamentation such as elliptical fanlights, side lights and decorative crowns.
The Greek Revival style, known as the National Style due to its popularity during the 19th century, is considered to be America’s “first unique architectural style”. Characteristics of this the Greek Revival style are an entry porch with columns, roofs that are gabled or hipped and flat, decorative pilasters, transom windows and a front door with side lights that surround it. These buildings usually had colonnades that were inspired by ancient Greece monuments.
Antebellum style of American Architecture in the Federal Era is the style of the pre-Civil War plantation homes in the South. Characteristics of this type of archetictural style is grandiose, two-story with two-story columns, with large, decorative staircases and beautiful, formal entries as well as spacious grounds that they sit on.
The Federal Era of American Architecture also had its own distinct hardware which was produced by the local blacksmith, even with the increased popularity of machining pieces. Cast iron was still used, but brass hardware was becoming more popular. Common hardware motifs of this era are Grecian wreath, acanthus leaf, bead and rope and the hardware was Norfolk latch, decorative sash lift and cast butt hinge. Innovations in the hardware department during this era are the building screws that were first mass-produced, the latch backplate and hardware for built-in closets which made their first appearance during this time.