American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader

By Keith L. Eggener | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
The Greek Revival
Americanness, politics and economics

W. Barksdale Maynard


AMERICANNESS

When twentieth-century historians sought to demonstrate that American architecture had always been boldly independent and innovative—worthy of the greatness of the worldstraddling nation of their day—their favorite example was the Greek Revival. They argued that this nineteenth-century movement was unique to America and expressed peculiarly democratic meanings. These ideas do not seem to have obtained in the 1890s, when the revival was still understood to have been an English import. But by 1926, when American art and antiques suddenly seemed valuable, Howard Major would call the revival “An American Style for Americans…. It is the only thoroughly American architecture” and was our “national style, our independent creation.” The temple-form house, in particular, “was independent of contemporaneous European influence.” Lewis E. Crook agreed: such a house “had no counterpart in Europe. The direct classicism of the revivalist in the temple form of architecture first gained a foothold in the South and produced our own great national style in architecture—America’s independent contribution to the art.” Joseph Jackson titled his 1926 chapter on the Greek Revival, “Beginnings of a National Architecture,” and promoted the Americanness theme: Strickland’s Second Bank (Figure 7.1) “certainly … was not flavored with any British influence,” and his Merchants’ Exchange showed how “American Architecture had released itself from British tradition.” Leopold Arnaud, introducing Hamlin’s Greek Revival Architecture, wrote, “The word ‘Revival’ is an unfortunate misnomer, for this style was only a revival in that its decorative vocabulary was based upon classic Greek detail. In all other respects it was typically of America. Never before or since has there been less influence from Europe.” Arnaud’s comments show the cast of the times; when he writes of “a conscious separation from Europe and a fierce will to be American,” he refers to the 1830s but could easily be describing the 1930s, years of crisis and intense patriotism in which interest in Greek Revival architecture surged. Hamlin’s book, born at the very moment of U.S. world ascendancy, made the architectural-Americanness idea gospel for the rest of the century. In vain did Nikolaus Pevsner protest against his “contention … that the Greek Revival is the first national American style. I fail to see that.”1

As Pevsner knew, the Greek Revival was really an international phenomenon, with many of its greatest American monuments inspired by British examples. As for the templeform house, abundant wood allowed Grecian porticos to multiply here, but they were far

-132-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 449

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.