Architectural History And Building Styles
EARLY SHELTER
When early settlers came to America, the basic need for sturdy, protective shelter superceded any desire for style. These early builders were shaped by three primary forces: The climate of the region, the available materials, and the culture from which the settlers originated.

When European immigrants landed on the American shore, and as they moved westward onto the prairie, they lived in rather crude dwellings such as sod houses, earthen dugouts, log cabins and structures like those built by Native Americans. The natural resources in the region made a difference in the method of building. While northern dwellers chopped trees to create log cabins, settlers in South Florida used palmetto fronds to keep out the elements. As soon as more sophisticated building tools and materials were available, the settlers began to build structures that resembled those from their own cultural tradition. There was a strong emotional need to live in a house that was familiar and “civilized.”

Styles of architecture in early America generally imitated those developed in Western Europe. These styles were first built on the east coast and then copied by settlers as they moved westward. In the 19th and early 20th century, many houses in America revived styles from earlier periods of western civilization. The following section introduces a sampling of 19th century architectural styles that can be found in Illinois. Take time to study the pictures, and then see if you recognize buildings in your town that have similar design features.