Federal Architecture

Federal style homes became popular in the early to mid 1800’s. Several fireplaces clustered around a large center chimney did well enough for the smaller cape design. Federal houses needed more than one chimney to heat the more numerous and larger rooms that more prosperous times were allowing home builders to design. So one of the characteristics of the Federal period is two or more chimneys. The windows are still multi-light (many panes), double hung. Federal houses are always symmetrical with doors located in the center of the front. A new siding appears at this time, shiplap. It is created from flat boards that are mounted horizontally with a small edge which overhangs the board just below. The lower board has a small setback cut in to it to accommodate the overhang. The overall effect is a smooth , waterproof siding. This was an expensive technique and is not widely seen. Usually Federal houses had a simple clapboard siding.

We begin to see a bit more decoration in this era. Side lights, vertical panels of windows, are often seen beside the front door. There are sometimes fan lights, windows shaped like an open fan, above the front door. On occasion there maybe a Palladian window. They are three part windows at least one of which has a domed top. Some homes, like the one pictured at right,  featured a balustrade which is a decorative fence like piece placed around the edge of the roof. Even with these touches Federal houses are considered to be unadorned.