Civilization And Architecture

In the previous section some steps in the evolution of the house have been briefly outlined. It is evident that social conditions and climate influence the character of the buildings of a country or nation. So we have what are called the characteristic buildings of different nations. For example: Egypt is noted for its temples and towers; Assyria for its palaces; Greece for its temples; Rome, for its bridges and aqueducts; mediaeval Europe for castles and churches; the Low Countries, for their trade halls; England, for its country houses, and the United. States, for its fine office and municipal buildings. So we realize the truth of the statement that much of the civilization of a countrv can be read in its architecture.

Conditions Influencing American Architecture. Comfort And Convenience

It may be well to consider how social conditions and tradition have influenced American architecture. In a new country there is less of conventionality, greater freedom of action, more originality in the manner of conducting affairs, often less wealth and fewer class distinctions than in an old and well established community. Judged by the standards of the old world America is a very new country. When its resources were undeveloped and its people had little wealth its life and its houses were very simple, limited for the most part to the necessities, but as the development progressed, life became more complex, more influenced by the traditions of these lands whose descendants had settled in America. Moreover, America has always been a land for the people - not for any one class, but for all the people. Its architecture shows some of these same characteristics. It is original, varied, irregular, with a strong individuality. Again, the Americans are a comfort-loving people, so they demand comfort and convenience in a building, whether it be house or shop. The marble halls and stately palaces of the old world, beautiful though they be on the exterior, do not appeal to the American because they are damp and cold; the same is true of many of the European dwelling houses.

LOG CABIN IN WHICH PRESIDENT LINCOLN WAS BORN.

LOG CABIN IN WHICH PRESIDENT LINCOLN WAS BORN.

Typical of the Houses of the Early Settlers. Chimney on the End Partly Demolished.

Early House. Lacking In Beauty

The artistic sense of the people has not been developed by association with the art treasures and splendid buildings which are so numerous in the old world, so for many years American architecture was sadly lacking in beauty. It was natural that builders should follow the forms of construction which were used abroad. It was soon found, however, that many of those forms were unsuited to the life and customs which prevail in this country. A castle, for instance, is not adapted to the free and simple life of America. The English country house or manor is not suited to country life in America. Nor do Americans wish the first story of their city houses to be given up to stables and shops as they are in Paris. So the newer and better architecture of America is formed by taking the elements of proportion, symmetry, and beauty as found in the old world structures and using them in the construction of buildings which are suited to the needs of Americans.

FAIRBANKS HOUSE AT DEDHAM, MASS., BUILT IN 1636.

FAIRBANKS HOUSE AT DEDHAM, MASS., BUILT IN 1636.

From "Homes in City and Country' Charles Scribner's Sons, Publishers.

Built about 1650. Second Story Overhangs Front and Sides.

Built about 1650. Second Story Overhangs Front and Sides.

From ' Early Connecticut Houses' Preston and Rounds Co., Publishers.