The interiors were marked by simple wall-surfaces with attention concentrated upon structural members and fucntional necessities, such as doorways, windows, fireplaces and the centre-pieces of ceilings. Panelling was not included in the scheme of decoration. Even the dado was omited in favour of big, broad surfaces. As in the exterior, the full entablature was carried around the room. The rooms were not isolated, but opened into each other, partially screened by pilasters, columns, and entablature. The effect of stateliness was produced at the expense of intimacy.
The interiors were bold and dignified, composed of straight, severe lines with heavy detail. The walls were severely plain plastered surfaces. The rooms were high studded with a carefully arranged disposition of windows, doorways, and chimney-piece. The doorways were wide, and together with the column partition the principal rooms of the first floor opened into each other with extensive vistas, but with a consequent lack of privacy. [Sarah E. Mitchell: This openness would have been an advantage in Southern climates, allowing breezes to waft through and helping cool the interior. In the winter in Northern climates, the inhabitants probably struggled to keep warm.]
The interiors displayed not a little stateliness and grace and lent themselves to large gatherings with the decorous formality which went hand in hand with the cultivated tastes and the rigorous thought of the time.
The chimmey-pieces were often of black marble with plain Doric pilasters or engaged columns without the over-mantel of Colonial days. [Sarah E. Mitchell: A large mirror was sometimes hung over the parlor chimney.]
Door and window architraves were fluted, reeded, or a combination of both, with full contour of ingenious silhouette, symmetrical upon a central axis. It was successfully terminated at the corners by inserting square blocks, which were turned or carved in bold relief. Sometimes the head-trim was of different section than that of the jamb-trim, by which means interesting variety was introduced. Frequently a long middle block in lieu of a key was substituted, this being carved in relief. Strangely enough this trim was far from Greek in derivation, but it was one of the products of the style and harmonised perfectly in its setting.
Text by Howard Major, The Domestic Architecture of the Early American Republic: The Greek Revival, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1926, pp. 72-75. Editing and Graphic Design by Sarah E. Mitchell.
Web Edition Copyright © 2003 Sarah E. Mitchell