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Greek Revival Blocks (1830s-1860s)

The earliest photographs of Vermont are likely to contain commercial blocks in the Greek Revival style, as it was in fashion during the advent of photography. During the mid-19th century, commercial blocks gradually became larger and changed shape. Early Greek Revival buildings maintained the gently sloping eaves front roof of the Federal style but boasted rectangular granite or wood lintels over the six-over-six windows.

Around the 1840s, the gable-front building became popular. Greek Revival commercial blocks became gable-front buildings with cornice returns or full pediment roods, ranging from small 1 1/2 story structures to larger two or three story structures. Large multi-paned storefront windows opened into the street level storefronts, and Classical details. including pilasters, columns, and entablatures, graced the entryways.

Note the sloping, eaves-front roof in the center building of the image below. The building is still fairly modest, but the rectangular lintels are prominent.

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Greek Revival: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Vermont State Archives

The images below exemplify the gable-front Greek Revival style. Note the full pediment in the image on the left. Note the cornice returns and corner pilasters in the image on the right. And notice the small massing, the cornice returns, and round gable window in the next image down.

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Greek Revival: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Vermont Historical Society. Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and Highland Lodge.

Greek Revival

Greek Revival: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

By the 1860s commercial blocks were becoming larger and more elaborate. The 1860s to 1870s was a period of economic growth for many Vermont towns, and the nation as a whole was moving toward more exuberant forms of architectural expression. Three, four, and five story commercial buildings are being constructed. Larger windows, often two-over-two sashes, open into the façades, which are textured with Classical details. Brick pilasters often rise between windows and at corners, and the cornice line is often adorned with brick dentils or a full brick entablature.

Note in the image on the left, the flat brick pilaster rising to a simple brick entablature. Note in the image on the right, the enriched cornice line and rectangular lintels.

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Greek Revival: Image courtesy of Elizabeth André. Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Vermont State Archives

Eventually, during the late 1860s, the Greek Revival style transitioned into the Italianate style. Known for its decorative brackets and elaborate window moldings, the Italianate style influenced the late Greek Revival. Cornice brackets or window moldings may appear on otherwise Greek Revival façades.

Notice the rectangular lintels of the Greek Revival style and decorative brackets of the Italianate style in the image on the left, and the Greek Revival lintels with Italianate brackets and round arch windows in the image on the right.

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Greek Revival: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Vermont Historical Society. Image courtesy of Elizabeth André.

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