Craig White's Literature Courses

Historical Backgrounds


Neo-Classical or Enlightenment Architecture (period and style)

a.k.a. "Greek Revival"

(compare Baroque & Romantic architecture)

digital recreation of original Parthenon, 5c Greece

As with many values and practices of the Enlightenment, architecture of the late 1600s, 1700s and beyond imitated models from classical Greece and Rome--therefor the descriptive terms "Neo-Classical" and "Greek Revival," with many variations.

The rigorous simplicity of this architectural movement reacted against overly decorative-to-decadent features of Baroque and Rococo architecture but also extended some classicizing qualities of the Baroque such as symmetry, balance, or counterpoint.

In general, though, Neo-Classical architecture differs from Baroque by its comparative starkness, diminished interplay of light and shadow, and isolation of individual features or ornaments in frames or corners.

Neo-Classical architecture often has a heavier feel than the ascending lightness of the Baroque, giving it a sense of gravity or power.

Neo-Classical architecture associated with early United States and France after its Revolution, both of which saw classical architecture as embodying the spirit of Athenian democracy and the Roman republic.

Classical Greek & Roman Architecture

The Parthenon (447-38 BCE), Athens Greece

Temple of Hephaestos (449-44 BCE), Athens


Maison Carree, Nimes, France (16 BCE)
(Roman temple rededicated to Christianity 4c CE)


Neo-Classical or Greek Revival Architecture
in Europe
(late 1600s-1700s +)

Gucevicius, Vilnius Cathedral, Lithuania (1783-89)

Juan de Villanueva, El Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain (1785)

Neo-Classical or Greek Revival Architecture
North America

Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820), Bank of Pennsylvania (1780)


Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820), Latrobe Gate, Washington Navy Yard (1806, 1881)

Latrobe, Baltimore Basilica (1806-1820)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Monticello (early 1800s) (Palladian style)

Robert Mills (1781-1855), U.S. Treasury Building (1839-69)

Town, Davis, & Frazee, New York Custom House (1833-42)

First Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama

Central Baptist Church, Miami FL

U.S. Capitol (1800s-present)

John Russell Pope (1874-1937), Thomas Jefferson Memorial (1939-43)