Mr. Wallis has said that the influence of Dutch Colonial compared with that of the architectures of the north and south of it has been negligible. This is to some extent true, and it has been a matter of never-ending surprise to me that the style is so little known or appreciated even here in New York, within twenty miles of which we can find the most exquisite small houses that were ever built. It is true that we have no "mansions," nor are there any "villas," but we have homes. If country life is worth anything at all it is because the necessity for dress and convention is minimized, and the enjoyment of -country life depends upon outdoor sports. Certainly nothing could be more ridiculous than golf clothes in an "Adam room".
I grant that the style has its limitations; there never was one that hadn't, but what I do most firmly believe is that there is no other architecture so perfectly adapted to American conditions, so plastic in permitting adjustments of exterior to plan, and so absolutely suited, aside from any sentimental reason, to small house architecture as is the Dutch Colonial. A small house cannot be built two stories high before the roof starts and not be too high for its width. It is essential that the walls of a house should be wider than their height and this can be attained in the small house only by bringing the roof low. The Dutch, two hundred years ago, for purely practical reasons, discovered that the gam-brel roof was the solution of the problem of getting the most room in a low house; their solution is still correct.
The architecture of the first settlers in a country is apt to be the most desirable to employ. Whether this is because of a reflex action of sentiment, or whether it is that the old houses were built from materials taken from the earth and fields around them - and there is something peculiarly fitting in the use of local materials - cannot be easily known. The fact remains that the Dutch is the only indigenous architecture and certainly the most suitable. With our complex modern conditions, the vast increase in the wealth, not only of the very rich, but also of the well-to-do, conditions in this country have somewhat changed. Our race is no longer English, but cosmopolitan; its dominant strain is English in political ideas only, our morals are of home growth, our educational system has been adapted from the German, our art is governed by French ideals. We are cosmopolitan, and yet everything we have taken from the old sources has been adapted and adjusted to our needs until it has become stamped with our ideals. We are reaching out and grasping for everything that is good, coining the world's gold to our use. That is precisely what was done in house-building two hundred years ago by the settlers in New York and New Jersey who developed Dutch architecture. We all agree that a dwelling house should look like a dwelling house and not like a museum or a castle; the only point of disagreement is as to what kind of a looking thing a dwelling house is. In his effort to sustain the domestic reputation of the Colonial style Mr. Wallis has stated that the Greeks, whose architecture was a kind of "missing link" ancestor of Colonial, invented the nightshirt; can he deny that the Dutch discovered pajamas? Even more than Colonial, the Dutch has that quality of intimacy which is at the root of successful work; and it has a virility and sturdiness which makes it most suitable for modern work. English half-timber is frankly an importation, often charming, it is true, but as unsuitable to the United States as are thatched roofs. Colonial was the last cry of an age when politeness was made a god, and is mannered and conscious. The Dutch was sincere, expressive and vital; strong and pleasing in mass, refined in detail and beautifully fit, in both form and color, to the American landscape.