Rensselaer County’s communities were settled at various times and have grown at different rates. Architectural style is often an important key to understanding how a community or neighborhood has developed over time. During the 19th century, when many of the County’s residences were built, most architectural styles in use were first developed in the prosperous mercantile cities of this country or in Europe. As styles took hold in developing areas and larger cities such as Albany, local architects and master builders began incorporating characteristic features into the design of their buildings.
Prior to the American Revolution, Dutch and English architectural styles and details dominated the Hudson Valley Region. As our early republic grew during the first half of the 19th century, an interest in the styles of earlier historical periods was the predominant characteristic. The Federal Style, inspired by the new federal government, borrowed its form from the English Adam Style, while the Greek Revival Style, very popular in our area, borrowed its features from classical Greek architecture. The Gothic Revival Style took its decorative cues from Medieval European cathedrals and castles.
In the second half of the 19th century, borrowing became more eclectic, with several historical styles in vogue at once. Italian villas inspired the Italianate Style, the French Second Empire inspired the Second Empire Style, and English Tudor cottages inspired the Queen Anne Style.
At the turn of the century, popular architecture revived details from earlier Georgian and Federal styles,
creating the Colonial Revival or Georgian Revival Style.
The Bungalow Style became a popular early-20th century house
style that can be seen in newer city neighborhoods and suburban communities throughout the County.
To learn more about these styles see:
Sources consulted for this section include:
McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses, New York: Knopf, 1984
Meffert, John. Seneca Falls – Walking Tour of Architectural Styles. Seneca Falls (NY) Historical Society. 1976.
Rifkind, Carole. A Field Guide to American Architecture. New York: The New American Library, Inc. 1980.
Walling, Richard S. The Rensselaer County Preservation Manual. Troy, NY: Rensselaer County Historical Society. 1987.
For more complete information on architectural history, see the bibliography page.