Central-passage house

The central-passage house, also known variously as center-hall house, hall-passage-parlor house, Williamsburg cottage, and Tidewater-type cottage, was a vernacular, or folk form, house type from the colonial period onward into the 19th century in the United States.[1][2]

It evolved primarily in colonial Maryland and Virginia from the hall and parlor house, beginning to appear in greater numbers by about 1700.[1][2] It partially developed as greater economic security and developing social conventions transformed the reality of the American landscape, but it was also heavily influenced by its formal architectural relatives, the Palladian and Georgian styles with their emphasis on symmetry.[3]

Central Passage House Floorplan
Floor plan of a basic central-passage house.

Architectural features

Locust Grove in 2008
Locust Grove, a wood-frame example near Dillwyn, Virginia. Built prior to 1794.

The central-passage house was built much like the earlier hall and parlor house, except that its hall and parlor were divided by a central passageway. In fact, in many of the earliest examples a hall-parlor arrangement had a second partition added inside the existing structure or an additional room was added to one side to form a central-passage house.[2][3] In form it was one-and-a-half storied, on a raised foundation, and had gable-end chimneys. Earlier examples were always one room deep (single-pile) and had a steeply pitched roof.

The single-pile eventually gave way to two-room-deep, or double-pile types and a more gentle-sloping roof with dormer windows by the end of the 18th century. Also, the earliest examples display some asymmetry, but this was quickly superseded by a strictly symmetrical facade. It usually employed the "double square" formula, that is, the house was twice as long as it was high.[1] Timber-framed with weatherboarding and brick examples are known equally.[2]

Stylistic elements that were typical of the type were massive bookend chimneys with rectangular caps, flat or segmented arches over door and window openings, and a raised, often molded brick, water table. When built with brick masonry load-bearing walls, decorative detailing often included Flemish bond and English bond. Diapering (diagonal diamond patterns done with darker brick) was also common on gable ends.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Gamble, Robert (1990). Historic architecture in Alabama: a guide to styles and types, 1810-1930. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. pp. 33–36. ISBN 978-0-8173-1134-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e Foster, Gerald L. (2004). American Houses: A Field Guide to the Architecture of the Home. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 94–96. ISBN 978-0-618-38799-1.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Kimberly Prothro (2003). A Pride of Place: Rural Residences of Fauquier County, Virginia. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. pp. 19–22. ISBN 978-0-8139-1997-3.
Adam Thoroughgood House

The Adam Thoroughgood House is a brick house located at 1636 Parish Road, in the neighborhood of Thoroughgood, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States. It was built ca. 1719. The building underwent major restorations in 1923 and in the 1950s and has served as a museum since opening to the public April 29, 1957. Much of the current structure was most likely the house of the great-grandson of Adam Thoroughgood. The City of Virginia Beach acquired the property in 2003. A 2004 grant application to the National Park Service resulted in a $150,000 award from the prestigious Save America's Treasures program. The City matched that amount as required. This restoration took longer and cost more than expected, but the house reopened in May 2011.

American colonial architecture

American colonial architecture includes several building design styles associated with the colonial period of the United States, including First Period English (late-medieval), French Colonial, Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial, and Georgian. These styles are associated with the houses, churches and government buildings of the period from about 1600 through the 19th century.

Several relatively distinct regional styles of colonial architecture are recognized in the United States. Building styles in the 13 colonies were influenced by techniques and styles from England, as well as traditions brought by settlers from other parts of Europe. In New England, 17th-century colonial houses were built primarily from wood, following styles found in the southeastern counties of England. Saltbox style homes and Cape Cod style homes were some of the simplest of homes constructed in the New England colonies. The Saltbox homes known for their steep roof among the back the house made for easy construction among colonists. The Cape Cod style homes were a common home in the early 17th of New England colonists, these homes featured a simple, rectangular shape commonly used by colonists. Dutch Colonial structures, built primarily in the Hudson River Valley, Long Island, and northern New Jersey, reflected construction styles from Holland and Flanders and used stone and brick more extensively than buildings in New England. In Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas, a style called "Southern Colonial" is recognized, characterized by the hall and parlor and central-passage house types, which often had large chimneys projecting from the gable-ends of the house. In the Delaware Valley, Swedish colonial settlers introduced the log cabin to America. A style sometimes called Pennsylvania colonial appeared later (after 1681) and incorporates Georgian architectural influences. A Pennsylvania Dutch style is recognized in parts of southeastern Pennsylvania that were settled by German immigrants in the 18th century.Early buildings in some other areas of the United States reflect the architectural traditions of the colonial powers that controlled these regions. The architectural style of Louisiana is identified as French colonial, while the Spanish colonial style evokes Renaissance and Baroque styles of Spain and Mexico; in the United States it is found in Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California.

Bel Air (Woodbridge, Virginia)

Bel Air is a colonial-era plantation manor located in Woodbridge, Prince William County, Virginia. Built in 1740 as the Ewell family seat, the home was regularly visited by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who was a cousin. It later served as the home of Mason Locke Weems (1759–1825), the first biographer of George Washington and the creator of the cherry tree story ("I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet"). Extraordinarily well preserved for its age, Bel Air was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.Today, Bel Air remains a private residence and a working farm.

Berryhill-Morris House

The Berryhill-Morris House is a historic farmhouse near the city of Bellbrook in Greene County, Ohio, United States. Built in the 1830s for an elderly veteran, it has changed little since its early years, and it has been named a historic site.

Berryhills were among the pioneers of Sugarcreek Township, starting when Alexander and Rachel Berryhill moved from Virginia. A great-nephew of Charles Thomson, secretary of the First Continental Congress, Alexander enlisted in the Continental Army at the age of nineteen. Fighting under the command of Nathanael Greene, Berryhill was wounded as his company was captured at the Battle of Guilford Court House. After two years as a prisoner of war, he was released in a prisoner exchange and returned home. Having married, he moved to Ohio in 1814 with his family. He became the patriarch of one of the township's premier old families, composed of eleven children, including a prominent Old School Presbyterian minister. His property was inherited by his son Samuel, who continued farming until dying in 1840. Eighteen years later, the Morris family purchased the property and began a tenure of over a century.Built in 1832, the Berryhill-Morris House is a two-story building in the Federal style. Both the walls and the foundation are brick, and it possesses an asphalt roof and elements of stone. Its floor plan is that of a rectangular central-passage house, and it sits amid a farm of approximately 100 acres (40 ha) that retains its original rural appearance. In 1975, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It qualified because of its architecture, which was deemed significant as an example of earlier settlers' efforts to civilize the wilderness of early Ohio.

Dogtrot house

The dogtrot, also known as a breezeway house, dog-run, or possum-trot, is a style of house that was common throughout the Southeastern United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some theories place its origins in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Some scholars believe the style developed in the post-Revolution frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee. Others note its presence in the low country of the Carolinas from an early period. The main style point was a large breezeway through the center of the house to cool occupants in the hot southern climate. Architects continue to build dogtrot houses using modern materials, but maintaining the original design.

Ferry Farm

Ferry Farm (also known as the George Washington Boyhood Home Site or the Ferry Farm Site) is the name of the farm and home at which George Washington spent much of his childhood. The site is located in Stafford County, Virginia, along the northern bank of the Rappahannock River, across from the city of Fredericksburg. In July 2008, archaeologists announced that they had found remains of the boyhood home, which had suffered a fire during 1740, including artifacts such as pieces of a cream-colored tea set probably belonging to George's mother, Mary Ball Washington.

Gunston Hall

Gunston Hall is an 18th-century Georgian mansion near the Potomac River in Mason Neck, Virginia, USA. The house was the home of the United States Founding Father George Mason. It was located at the center of a 5,500 acre (22 km²) plantation.The home is also located not far from George Washington's home. The construction period of Gunston Hall was between 1755 and 1759.The interior of the house and its design was mostly the work of William Buckland, a carpenter/joiner and indentured servant from England. Buckland later went on to design several notable buildings in Virginia and Maryland. Both he and William Bernard Sears, another indentured servant, are believed to have created the ornate woodwork and interior carving. Gunston's interior design combines elements of rococo, chinoiserie, and Gothic styles, an unusual contrast to the tendency for simple decoration in Virginia at this time. Although chinoiserie was popular in Britain, Gunston Hall is the only house known to have had this decoration in colonial America.In 1792, Thomas Jefferson went to Gunston Hall to attend George Mason's death bed;

after his death later that year, the house remained in use as a private residence for many years. In 1868, it was purchased by noted abolitionist and civil war Colonel Edward Daniels. It is now a museum owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and open to the public. The home and grounds were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for their association with Mason.

Hall and parlor house

A hall and parlor house is a type of vernacular house found in early modern to 19th century England, as well as in colonial North America. It is presumed to have been the model on which other North American house types have been developed, such as the Cape Cod house, Saltbox, and Central-passage house, and in turn influenced the somewhat later I-house. In England it had been a more modest development from the medieval hall house.


The I-house is a vernacular house type, popular in the United States from the colonial period onward. The I-house was so named in the 1930s by Fred Kniffen, a cultural geographer at Louisiana State University who was a specialist in folk architecture. He identified and analyzed the type in his 1936 study of Louisiana house types. He chose the name "I-house" because of its common occurrence in the rural farm areas of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, all states beginning with the letter "I". He did not use the term to imply that this house type originated in, or was restricted to, those three states. It is also referred to as Plantation Plain style.

Locust Grove (Dillwyn, Virginia)

Locust Grove is a historic house located between Dillwyn and Buckingham, Virginia, constructed before 1794. It is remembered for its connection to the Revolutionary soldier Peter Francisco, and as the Peter Francisco House it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972.


A pair-house is a three-room house found in the US built in the 19th century by Scandinavian immigrants as an adaptation of common houses from their homeland. Commonly found in the US state of Utah, pair-houses are historically significant as being representative of ethnic diversity in an area and time that favored uniformity among followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church). A number of pair-houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plantation complexes in the Southern United States

Plantation complexes in the Southern United States refers to the built environment (or complex) that was common on agricultural plantations in the American South from the 17th into the 20th century. The complex included everything from the main residence down to the pens for livestock. A plantation originally denoted a settlement in which settlers were "planted" to establish a colonial base. Southern plantations were generally self-sufficient settlements that relied on the forced labor of slaves, similar to the way that a medieval manorial estate relied upon the forced labor of serfs.Today, as was also true in the past, there is a wide range of opinion as to what differentiated a plantation from a farm. Typically, the focus of a farm was subsistence agriculture. In contrast, the primary focus of a plantation was the production of cash crops, with enough staple food crops produced to feed the population of the estate and the livestock. A common definition of what constituted a plantation is that it typically had 500 to 1,000 acres (2.0 to 4.0 km2) or more of land and produced one or two cash crops for sale. Other scholars have attempted to define it by the number of slaves that were owned.

Single- and double-pen architecture

Single-pen architecture and double-pen architecture are architectural styles for design of log, and sometimes stone or brick pioneer houses found in the United States. A single pen is just one unit: a rectangle of four walls of a log cabin. In double pen architecture, two log pens are built and those are joined by a roof over a breezeway in between.

West St. Mary's Manor

West St. Mary's Manor is a historic house on West St. Mary's Manor Road in rural St. Mary's County, Maryland. It is a rare early Colonial-era house built between 1700 and 1730, and is located on the first recorded English land grant in what is now Maryland. It is an example of a William and Mary-era country house, representing a transition from early one and two-room plans to a more elaborate four-room center-hall plan. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

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