Dutch Colonial Architecture

The Dutch colonial architecture is unique and yet very similar to the original Colonial homes built in the New England states between 1600 and 1800. According to legend, the uniqueness hails from homeland blueprints. It is said that when the Dutch landed on American soil, they brought with them their own homebuilding methods and styles. Dutch carpentry methods were incorporated into the mix, along with many other homebuilding styles of the time. The end result was several distinct Colonial style homes.

Unique Qualities of Dutch Colonial Homes
The basic design of a Dutch Colonial is similar to other Colonial-era homes. However, the homeland style and carpentry techniques added some distinguishing elements.

  • The door is almost always centered on the house. Dutch Colonial doors were unique in that they were cut horizontally, allowing the top or bottom to be opened separately or together. This trait was common in the Netherlands, where virtually every house door was cut in half to allow fresh air into the house while keeping cattle and livestock outside.
  • Gambrel roofs are common. Long, sloping roofs that overhung the doorways are common, often flaring up on the edges and giving the house the appearance of a one-story home rather than a two-story home. Gambrel roofs were said to have saved the Dutch from a variety of heavy taxes that were imposed on two-story homeowners.
  • Look for a second chimney. Chimneys in classic Colonial homes were placed in the center of the house so that they could radiate warmth throughout the home. Dutch colonial homes often placed the chimney at one end of the house or on both ends of the house.
  • Materials vary. While Colonial homes were constructed of wood found in the immediate area, Dutch colonial homes were more often constructed out of brick or stone.
  • Designs extend to a shed. Dutch Colonial homes often had an accompanying shed attached to the popular saltbox blueprint of the time. This helped protect the house from harsh winter winds.

Concentration of Dutch Colonial Homes
The first Dutch Colonial homes were erected in New York and New Jersey, where German and Dutch citizens settled. The low, sweeping gambrel roofs were often hipped to resemble a barn, then swept down in a flared edge, creating shelter on the porch beneath it. Dormer windows, centered on each side of the door, nearly reached the ground.

Even if a Dutch Colonial doesn't have the usual design, there are certain elements that strongly indicate a home is of Dutch origin:

  • Clapboard siding or fish0scale shingling
  • A facing along the front of the house of brick or stone
  • Slightly rounded, steeply pitched gambrel roofing
  • Hipped dormer windows
  • Porches shaded by flared eaves
  • Double-hung sash windows with wooden casements

Today, several original Dutch Colonial homes can be found in New York state, particularly in the Hudson River Valley. Some stately homes have withstood the test of time and remain unaltered by generations of refurbishing and revival.

The Hendrick I. Lott House, located at 1940 East 36th Street, is one of 14 remaining Dutch Colonial farm houses in Kings County. It is recognized both by its wide-hipped, symmetrically winged architecture, as well as by the historical marker that adorns the yard.

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