Colonial Homes

In the 17th century, British settlers began arriving in the New World. They established colonies across different parts of the North America, notably along the eastern coast.

The settlers, many of which were known as Pilgrims, arrived in different waves from the 17th century onwards.

Due to diversity in the cultures of pilgrims, their colonial housing was also diverse in styles.

Many settlers adopted the Native American housing features, and combined them with their own cultural styles. This gradually evolved into a unique housing style across the colonies.

The colonial housing style gained so much popularity that it was eventually revived and used in several modern architectural styles. Much of the early colonial housing in North America was influenced by the British tastes and culture.

The classic colonial house was one with two or three stories, a fireplace, and traditional English brick or wood facades. Over time, as more American colonies came into being, new colonial housing styles emerged.


Some of the most prominent colonial housing styles are detailed below.

Spanish Colonial Homes

Spanish explorers were among the first Europeans to arrive in the New World. They settled along the southern areas of North America where the climate was somewhat similar to Spain’s climate. The Spanish settlers incorporated the Native American housing elements into the houses they built. They built houses with thick brick walls and small windows.

The windows were initially holes in the wood shutters that could be opened or closed. Gradually, they started using glass covers. The indigenous Spanish housing elements include a courtyard and an overall L shape. A distinct feature of the Spanish colonial houses was the low-pitched ceiling in red.

Spanish Colonial houses were built with thick brick walls and small windows

Dutch Colonial Homes

The Dutch settlers in the North American mainly settled in New York and the surrounding area. The Dutch colonial houses were marked by unique gambrel roofs. These were two-sided woofs with slopes on each side. Modern versions of Dutch Colonial Housings were revived in the 20th century.

In 19th Century, Americans started to look back at the colonial times with nostalgia and revived many colonial culture elements. Dutch Colonial housing was one of the prominent colonial elements which Americans revived between 1920 and 1925.

Stone Ender Homes

Stone Ender housing was a colonial housing style which was prevalent in the 17th century North America. These houses had a specific style, where one wall was made up of large stone chimneys. It was a style of Rhodes Island architecture. The island was first settled in 1636 by Roger Williams and other settlers from England.

These colonists brought architectural ideas from England but adapted the environment of the Rhodes Island and built their houses accordingly. Rhodes Islands had an abundance of limestone, so they used lime rock in their housing and a large chimney was a must at these houses. Very few Stone Ender Colonial houses have survived until the 21st century.

Georgian Colonial Homes

Georgian Colonial housing is the name given to the regal architectural style of the English monarchs. It was named after four English monarchs George-I, George-II, George-III, and George-IV, who reigned from 1714 to 1830. The Georgian style housing is marked by symmetry, proportion and classical architecture of the Romans and Greeks.

This style was used in the original Thirteen Colonies. It was subsequently revived in the 19th century. In America, the Georgian architecture was adopted and modified. Colonial houses in this style often resembled a box with multiple chimneys and symmetrical outlook.

French Colonial Homes

French settlers settled in the areas west of the eastern coast. In particular, they settled the Mississippi Valley, with their focus on the Louisiana. During French colonization, different styles of French architecture were used in these regions. French buildings were constructed using bricks and wood frames. These were joined together by a compound made of moss, mud and animal hair.

The shape of the buildings was mostly rectangular and they were built on an elevated place. French colonial buildings were unique in that there were no hallways. All the rooms of a building were connected through outdoor ways, not through ways within the building. Most of the French colonial buildings are now a heritage of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

New England Colonial Homes

The English were among the first settlers on the eastern seaboard of North America. Although others like French and German people followed, the English language, customs and architecture dominated all subsequent settlers. In the start of1600s, English settlers built simple one story houses with two rooms and a central chimney. This style gradually changed to two-storey houses with four rooms and a central chimney.

From 1700 to 1776, the colonists on the eastern seaboard were fast establishing their civil society and developing architecture. Their architectural styles and designs of architect were being adopted across the ocean in Europe and England. The New England settlers used different local materials such as timber, wood and bricks. In doing so, they developed a unique style of their own while adopting local styles.

German Colonial Homes

The era of German colonial housing style in North America ranged from 1600 to mid 1800. German immigrants settled in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland from 17th century onwards. They had a very specific and particular housing style in which they used thick sandstone walls and exposed timber.

German colonial houses had wish-bone shaped chimneys. There was a typical symmetry in their houses, with steep roofs which were covered with clay wood or clay tiles. They used to have shutters in their homes in the start but then double-hung windows replaced the shutters.

Mid-Atlantic Colonial Homes

The Mid-Atlantic colonies included the colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York. They are also known as bread basket colonies. These colonies had a relatively warmer climate. Consequently, the settlers in these regions created architecture that suited the environment.

Most of the early settlers in Mid-Atlantic colonies came from British Isles. They borrowed elements from the architecture they had seen back home. Mid-Atlantic architecture utilized wood or bricks as the main construction material. Gable chimneys, both interior and exterior, were also commonly used. Many houses were not very large or deep, with some houses only a single room deep.