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Dating home > Residential Architecture > Architectural Styles > Federal


The Federal style was popular in Vermont from the late 18th century until the 1830s. The style is characterized by its two-story, symmetrically ordered eaves-front façade and delicate Classical detail. Federal style houses range from very ornamental to very plain and practical. A number of details are commonly found on houses of this style, although not all houses exhibit every characteristic.

Symmetrical, 5-bay façade (5 window or door openings along each story of the front façade), this is the most common characteristic of the Federal style

5-bay Façade 5-bay Façade

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

Small multi-pane sash windows (usually 12-over-12, 12-over-8, 9-over-9, or 6-over-6) that abut the eaves on the second story

Multi-pane Sash Windows Multi-pane Sash Windows

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

Splayed brick lintels over the windows (only on buildings with brick exteriors), either painted or unpainted

Splayed Brick Lintel Splayed Brick Lintel

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

Palladian (or tripartite) windows, usually located in the center of the second story on the main façade

Palladian windows Palladian windows

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

Cornice returns or full pediment roof on the gable ends (a full pediment roof forms a triangle at the gable end, while cornice returns form only a partial triangle)

Cornice Returns Cornice Returns

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

Semi-circular or elliptical fanlights in the gable ends

Semi-circular Fanlights Elliptical Fanlights

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

Enriched cornice (the projecting bottom edge of the roof), with dentils (tooth shaped moldings) or other ornament

Enriched Cornice

Image courtesy of Elizabeth André

Front entrances adorned with flat pilasters (flat columns flanking the door), side and transom lights (narrow bands of windows above and to the sides of the door), entablature (the wide molding atop the door), fanlight with tracery (a round arch window atop the door with etched details in the glass), a paneled recessed entrance, or pediment (triangular or round arch molding atop the door); an entry portico with decorative columns may be present

Front Entrance Front Entrance

Front Entrance Front Entrance Front Entrance Front Entrance

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

Some examples of this style feature a parapet roof (the side walls extend up past the roofline, often with four end chimneys); these often do not have the symmetry of the gable roof examples

Parapet Roof Parapet Roof

Images courtesy of Elizabeth André

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