Scholars have located the origins of the Colonial Revival in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, but have seldom explored its deep background in the intellectual life of the early nineteenth century. The revival of the 1870s was not wholly innovative but the culmination of trends of thought that reached back at least three generations. The Picturesque Movement as imported from England around 1800 brought with it all the elements needed for a positive reevaluation of colonial architecture: antiquarianism, a concern with the humble cottage, a nostalgic Old English mindset. Promulgated by poetry, travelogues, and villa books, the Picturesque joined with patriotism and nationalism to produce a sweeping change in opinion, as colonial architecture-long scorned and neglected-was gradually rediscovered, celebrated, preserved, and eventually imitated. The process of rediscovery was highly selective, the Picturesque always translating the colonial according to its own contemporary needs and predilections.
"Best, Lowliest Style!" The Early-Nineteenth-Century Rediscovery of American Colonial Architecture
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W. Barksdale Maynard; "Best, Lowliest Style!" The Early-Nineteenth-Century Rediscovery of American Colonial Architecture. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 September 2000; 59 (3): 338–357. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/991647
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