The Federal style of architecture correlates with the Federal period of U.S. history, when, between 1783 and 1815, the Revolutionary War ended and the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written. Architecture of this period drew upon classical sources, just as classicism and Athenian democracy best reflected the political ideals of the founders of the American system of government. Simple, symmetrical buildings constructed in brick, with white trim and classical columns, Palladian windows, and the image of the American eagle in the gabled roofline — all are characteristics of the Federal style exterior. Interiors, however, are more opulent and recall the rich classical sources favored by the Scottish architect Robert Adam, a favorite of the 18th-century English aristocracy. Sometimes the Federal style reveals a slight French influence, with more rounded, Rococo elements on the exterior, in the manner of Thomas Jefferson's private dwelling Monticello, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, begun in the 1770s. Thus, the Federal style is sometimes called the Adam or the Jeffersonian style, and is typified by Charles Bulfinch's Old State House, built in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1796, and in his Massachusetts State House, located on Beacon Hill overlooking the Boston Commons, begun in 1798. Indeed, it is the Federal style so prevalent in the Northeast that best reflects the political as well as the aesthetic aspirations of the founders of the United States.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. . 2008.

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