The Colonial Era of American Architecture existed from 1607 to 1830. During these years American architecture was influenced by the European settlers and the archetectural styles that they brought with them. These early architecteral styles varied throughout the regions of America as the settlers moved throughout the nation, but they had two things in common, they were all pretty plain or uncomplicated and were influenced greatly by the nationalities of the settlers.
This era in American Architecture saw several styles emerge. These are English Colonial, Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, Spanish Colonial and Georgian. Each of these styles were influenced by the settlers and where they came from.
English Colonial, including the Cape Cod and the New England Saltbox, is a style of architecture brought to America in the seventeenth century by settlers who came from England. This era of architecture is the result of this move by the settlers and resembles late medieval architecture found in rural England at this time.
Dutch Colonial, found primarily in the Hudson River Valley and New York City, is a style of architecture brought to America by the Dutch settlers. This architecture closely resembles the architecture of their homeland and includes batten doors, paired chimneys and gambrel roofs that are steeply pitched.
French Colonial, some which are still evident along the Mississippi basin and throughout southern Louisiana. Characteristics of French Colonial architecture are paired shutters, side gabled or hipped roofs, narrow windows and doors that are tall.
Spanish Colonial, which is still very evident in the American Southwest, is characterized by low-roofs with red tile and adobe walls along with few windows but many external doors.
Georgian architecture sprung up when with the increase of the population of America. This style of architecture incorporates the characteristics of the English Colonial architecture with roofs that are hipped or gabled, windows that are double-hung and have either nine or twelve panes per sash and have doors that are paneled and have ornate support pilasters and crowns.
The Colonial Era of American architecture also had its own distinct hardware. This hardware was made using forged cast iron by the local blacksmith. This iron was carefully hammered, then it was fired, giving each piece a distinct appearance. The hardware pieces popular to this era are cast iron furniture pulls, shutter dogs, hand-hammered nails, H or HL hinges, strap hinge and the Suffolk latch. Innovations in the hardware department during this era are elaborate shutter hardware, machine-made nails and the thumb-latch.