The Georgian architectural style mainly refers to buildings constructed during the reign of the first four British monarchs from the House of Hanover. These four kings ruled the country between 1714 and 1830 and were all named George, hence the name of the style that is typical of the era. Similarly to other great architectural ideas, the Georgian style was revived in the late 19th century in North America, as Colonial Revival architecture, and in the early 20th century in Great Britain, being referred to as Neo-Georgian architecture.
Georgian architectural elements arrived in Canada in the second half of the 18th century. United Empire Loyalists emigrating from Britain in the 1780s were responsible for popularizing the style. In Canada, the design also borrowed elements from the Renaissance and Palladian styles, while still staying true to the basic elements of original Georgian architecture. Due to this combination of various forms and elements, the exact characteristics of this style are not easy to define.
There are, however, a few key features which are typical of Georgian architecture, and below you’ll find five of them:
In an attempt to revive the formal and classical elements of architectural styles from the past, symmetricity is taken very seriously in Georgian buildings. This can mainly be noticed in the symmetrical arrangements of windows, doors and bays, as you can see in this stunning three-level home near Downtown Ottawa. The proportional composition can be observed not only on the outside, but also in the interior with the positioning of rooms.
2-3 level design with natural elements
Unlike ranch-style and bungalow homes, Georgian-style dwellings have a much taller profile, boasting at least two levels. Since transporting heavy construction materials was pretty difficult at the time, houses were mostly built from local products, predominantly brick and stone. This renovated two-level brick Georgian in Toronto perfectly illustrates both these key characteristics.
A typical Georgian house has a low-pitched, hipped roof. Another form is the gabled or half-gabled look, which is also sometimes used in this architectural style. Brick chimneys can often be observed towering above the rooftop, and there may be dormer windows too. This character home in Barrie splendidly exemplifies both these features at the same time.
Another significant feature of Georgian-style dwellings is their multi-paned windows, either of the sash or the casement variety. Each window can contain from 6 to 20 panes, as you can see on this neat 3-bedroom Toronto home, for example, and sometimes boasts simple jack arches as well. The windows sometimes come with their own shutters, usually made from wood, which have not only a practical, but also a decorative role.
Since a Georgian home tends to have an elegant, almost royal ambiance, the main entrance also needs to have a certain presence to match. This is often achieved with a columned portico, which borrows elements from ancient European styles (mainly Greek), complemented by its pedimented roof. This impeccable 4-bedroom dwelling in Ottawa illustrates this simple, yet important detail which can make all the difference when assessing this architectural style.
As you can see, Georgian-style homes can be rather charming. Their symmetrical façades with their simple, yet compelling details, their stately stature and their attractive windows might be said to emit an air of nobility. We’d love to know your thoughts about this particular architectural style! Would you ever consider purchasing a Georgian home for yourself?