What is Dutch Colonial Architecture?
Dutch colonial architecture is a classic home style of the Northeast United States. One of the earliest home styles in the country, originating in the 1600s, versions of this architecture still exist today. Let’s explore where it came from, how it evolved, and what it’s defining features are.
History of Dutch Colonial Houses
Although these homes are called Dutch colonial, the style actually originated in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. The name originates from the fact that these states were inhabited by Dutch settlers when the style was born in the mid 1700s. Although the style was prominent throughout America‘s northeast for hundreds of years, they were not called “Dutch Colonial” homes until the 1920s.
While the style did fade out of popularity for a few decades, the late 19th century brought newfound popularity for this style of home. Homes built in this century and beyond are technically called “Dutch Colonial Revival” architecture, although colloquially the term “Dutch Colonial” is acceptable as well.
As the style modernized and evolved, so did the world around it. While what was once New Amsterdam used to be filled with this style of home, in modern day New York City they are nonexistent. The homes were lost in fires or disasters over the years and were replaced by high rising apartment buildings to make use of horizontal space in an ever growing city.
Characteristics of Dutch Colonial Houses
The most defining characteristic of an original Dutch colonial house is a gambrel roof. Gambrel roofs are symmetrical and slope on each side. These roofs were so commonly used in Dutch style houses that the popular name for them in the 18th century became “Dutch Roofs”. Dutch Colonial homes are broad, and the roofs have long eaves that extend over the sides of the buildings. These features make the buildings look barn-like. Originally, the home was just one room, although this has changed as the style evolved over time. Usually both sides of the exterior had a porch. Materials included stone or brick for the house and doors and window shutters made of wood. Finally, these houses usually have a chimney on either one or both ends.
Modern interpretations of Dutch colonial houses have different features. More materials are included, such as shingles or clapboard. Modern Dutch colonial buildings still have a chimney, but it will sometimes be seen in the middle of the gambrel roof. Sometimes columns are seen on the porches or at the entry. While original homes were usually only one and a half stories, more modern homes are two stories.
The front doors are also synonymous with this architecture style. A “Dutch door” came from the front door of this style of home. The door was split horizontally so that just the top half could be opened to let in fresh air.
Historic Dutch colonial architecture has been around forever and isn’t going away any time soon. These classically beautiful homes not only evolve with the world around them, but become more modern and adaptable as the years go on. The perfect home to decorate, they are classic and gorgeous.