National Heritage Area

(814) 677-3152

217 Elm Street

Oil City, PA 16301-1412

Greek Revival

After the second war with the English, the War of 1812, Americans were in no mood to build structures that reminded them of the English. This was particularly true of residents of New York state and Northwestern Pennsylvania where the War of 1812 was a particularly harsh reality. Turning to the ancient Greeks for classical inspiration, Americans began to build homes, churches and other structures which clearly looked like Greek temples. The small house built at 1238 Elk Street in Franklin (As seen to the Right) is an excellent example of Greek Revival.

The very regular mass with the simple rectangular plan is a common Greek Revival form. The relatively shallow roof creates a gable end presented to the street as an elaborate classical pediment supported by four fluted columns with simple Doric capitals. Forming the base of the triangular pediment is a three-part classical entablature consisting of a cornice, frieze and architrave. This very pronounced entablature, which in this case wraps around the building, is characteristic of Greek Revival. The doorway and light over the door are rectangular. Greek classical architecture was primarily rectilinear and angular. This house was built in 1846 by James Myers and used as a law office.

The house at 1236 Elk Street in Franklin (As seen to the Left) is an example of a Greek Revival with a slightly more complicated mass. The central volume is a very regular, rectilinear two-story box with a shallow gable roof and a gable end facing the street. To both sides of this central volume are identical one-story volumes. This structure was built about a centerline running up through the entrance to the roof peak. The volumes and details seen to the left are also repeated to the right; the house is symmetrical. Though a full pediment was not constructed, two short returns at the eaves give the strong impression of a triangular form. The porch roof is supported by two classical columns with Doric capitals. The entablature of the roof porch is highlighted with appropriate dentil molding. The wings on both sides of the main mass are finished with classical pilasters. This house was built in 1842 when Franklin’s economy was based on the water power of French Creek, close by iron furnaces, and the town being the seat of the County Court. At the time, it was a village of mill operators, brewers, wagon makers, river men and lawyers.

The Free Methodist Church on N. Main Street in Pleasantville (As seen to the Right) was built in 1848. A very regular mass, the building features a fully enclosed classical pediment facing the road and supported by substantial classical pilasters built into the building corners. The rectilinear front entrance is defined by two pilasters at the sides. This church structure was constructed on land donated by Aaron Benedict who founded the village of Pleasantville, first known as Benedictville, in 1821. Benedict acted as the agent of the Holland Land Company. With a school, churches, a tannery, pottery and a general store, Pleasantville became a cultural and commercial center for the surrounding farmers. Benedict was not only the village’s real estate developer but the justice of the peace. The village was known as a source of abundant and tasty spring water, water which disappeared in the oil rush of 1868.

The Kingsland House at 107 N. Franklin in Titusville (As seen to the Left) is a very late period Greek Revival built in 1862. Kingsland owned timber land, cleared it, and sold the lumber in the early 1860's to the contractors building Titusville’s houses. This rather large structure is appropriately very regular in mass and plan. The gable ends of the building face to the sides. Pilasters, narrow in scale for the heft of the structure, are defined at the building corners. Note the old technology six over six glass panels in the sash windows. The house was remodeled as a grand hotel in 1865. Likely added when the home became a hotel, the large pediment supported by full-height, fluted columns with prominent Ionic capitals dominates the Franklin Street facade. The small window with the semicircular hood seen in the pediment is inconsistent with the rectilinear and angular nature of Greek Revival. This structure has served as Titusville’s City Hall since 1872.

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