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American Art and Architecture 1. Seventeenth-cen

1. Seventeenth-century colonial architecture in New England and Virginia was strictly European in origin. In Spain's eastern colony, St. Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos (1672-87) was also built along European lines--on the model of European fortifications circa 1500. (A local material, shell-limestone, rendered the fort nearly impervious the mortar attack.) But in New Spain the available labor force, limits on materials, the demands of the climate, and an existing indigenous tradition of permanent building meant that native forms were the basis of colonial architecture. In the Southwest the Spaniards were not in danger of attack by other Europeans and their settlements were primarily the work of missionaries who adopted the Native Americans' pueblo style. These large apartment complexes were constructed by puddling--applying a layer of wet adobe and allowing it to dry before the next layer was added. The Spaniards developed the use of sun-dried adobe bricks, which speeded the process, and added bracket capitals for each set of support posts. These innovations can be seen in the Palace of the Governors at Santa Fe (1610-14). The Spanish monks also brought monumental scale to pueblo architecture when they sought, as in San Estevan at Acona, New Mexico (1629-42) to build churches on what they felt was an appropriate scale.

In Virginia the vast majority of buildings were wood-frame houses built in the Tudor style. The surviving colonial buildings from this century are all, even in the largest examples, plain brick-work structures with few windows, as in the so-called Bacon's Castle in Surrey County (c. 1655). The relative simplicity of these buildings, and the absence of any sign of classical influence, testifies to the relatively low social status of the colonists of Virginia.

In New England, however, the Puritans were a middle class group who sought comfort in large, well-appointed clapboard houses. These struct...

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American Art and Architecture 1. Seventeenth-cen. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:22, April 19, 2019, from