The Roaring Twenties. The Jazz Age. Couples really were doing the Charleston and F. Scott Fitzgerald was chronicling the real-life goings-on of the privileged class while “flappers’” dresses rose above the knee. The 1920s in America were among the most active and creative years in our history, but the most enduring record of those years is its houses. Residences from that time still define swathes of suburban America and architects grounded in their architectural history continue to emulate the styles made popular then.
Elite and fashionable American suburbs developed as commuter rail lines reached out, and many of those towns embraced the architecture and detailings of Europe. The American industrial, moneyed classes traveled increasingly to Europe aboard elegant ocean liners, and they returned smitten with the grand homes found on the Continent and throughout Britain. The rooflines and flourishes, facades and floorplans characteristic of Tudor, French Normandy, Elizabethan, Italianate, Mediterranean, Spanish-Colonial, and Georgian homes abroad began to appear on American streets. But what might have seemed slavish reproductions of European styles, were, in fact, wholly original inventions—something America does well.
“These houses really are our architecture in the States,” says Jeremy Corkern, a Birmingham, Alabama–based architect who has designed many residences that reflect some of the styles first introduced in the 1920s. Corkern is also an active member of the Classical Institute of Architecture, the influential, even, perhaps, now-considered-radical New York City organization that promotes, educates, and puts into practice the architectural ideals first expressed during the Beaux Arts period of study in the late nineteenth century.
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WRITTEN BY DAVID MASELLO
This story appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of MILIEU.
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