What is a Greek Revival Style Home in Portland?

greek revival portland home

Portland, Oregon is home to an eclectic variety of home styles, which adds to our city’s charm and provides options to suit any taste. One of the less common styles found here is the Greek Revival, rich in history both as a tribute to Neoclassical Greek architecture and as a glimpse into the founding ideals of our country. Let’s explore the fascinating history and defining characteristics of this classic style.

In 1758, a British architect named James Stuart traveled to Greece and became enamored with classical Greek architecture. He returned to England and published a book, bringing widespread awareness to this style outside of Greece for the first time. Although it did not gain momentum until the 1820s, his work is credited for popularizing the Greek Revival style.

Following the American Revolution, Greek revival architecture was brought to the U.S. by American architects who observed the building styles in Europe. At the time, Americans felt a connection with the democratic ideals of Greece, and the design gained popularity as the country sought to define itself apart from Great Britain.

Thomas Jefferson played a role in bringing the NeoClassical Greek style to the U.S. by designing the Virginia State Capitol, one of the earliest and most iconic Greek Revival buildings. Greek Revival became the most popular architectural style in the U.S. from the 1820s to the 1860s. Its early origins were on the East coast with the style later spreading to the West.

Virginia state capitol building on a late summer afternoon in Richmond.

Definining Characteristics of Greek Revival Homes

The dominant characteristics of Greek Revival style are symmetrical designs with clean lines and grand facades. Tall columns framing the front of a building are an easily recognizable feature of this style. They often provide support for a portico, a kind of porch or entryway behind the columns. Columns are also adorned with capitals, which vary in design from simple to ornate. As seen in the photo, a triangular pediment hovers above the columns and is an essential element of Greek Revival style. Smooth siding made of wood, brick or stucco is painted white to imitate the NeoClassical buildings of Greece, which were constructed of marble.

How Greek Revival Style Spread to the West

Greek Revival style swelled in popularity in the U.S. during the first half of the nineteenth century. It became the style of choice for government buildings, houses of worship, financial institutions and homes. The design style was especially popular in the plantation houses and cottages of the Old South and appeared on spacious farmhouses in Northern states. Eventually the popularity of Greek Revival design spread to the West, with architects in the East sometimes fabricating homes and shipping them to the West Coast.

Greek Revival Architecture in Portland

Greek Revival architecture first appeared in Oregon in the 1840s. A classic example of this design is the Capt. J.C. Ainsworth House in Oregon City, also known as Mount Pleasant. It was likely designed by one of the first architects in Oregon and survives as one of the Portland area’s oldest buildings. The historic Bybee House on Sauvie Island is another excellent example of Portland Revival style with its perfect symmetry and column-framed portico.

The historic Capt. John C. Ainsworth House (built 1851) in Oregon City is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Image credit: Ian Poellet
The Bybee-Howell House at the Howell Territorial Park on Sauvie Island was built in 1856. Image credit: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives.

Where Can You Find Greek Revival-Style Homes in Portland?

Greek Revival design is less commonly found in Portland than Ranch-style homes and Bungalows, for example. However, you can find buildings and homes with classic Revival characteristics scattered throughout the Metro area, such as these beautiful homes that were recently on the market.

Looking for a Greek Revival Home in Portland, Oregon?

Our top 1% buyer’s agents are experts at helping you find the perfect home to suit your taste and budget. Give them a call at 503-773-0000. Or if you are in the market to sell a home, our top 1% seller’s agents will provide the best service you can find in the Metro area (and for a more reasonable commission rate). Call us at 503-714-1111 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to serving you!

January 6, 2023

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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