Dutch Colonial House Architecture Stands The Test Of Time

Dutch Colonial architecture refers to a design style associated with the colonial period of the US. Most colonial architecture that stands today was built in the 1700s.

Dutch colonial homes have specific characteristics introduced to the United States by Dutch settlers.

What Is A Dutch Colonial House?

Dutch Colonial House Architecture
Photos: Joyelle West Photography

Dutch colonial houses are one of the most popular styles that exist from the country’s early days. They are most known for their gambrel roofs with curved eaves that extend along the length of a house.

Traditional Dutch colonial houses had wood framing and stone or brick exteriors. Although many later versions featured shingle siding or wooden clapboards. They had at least one fireplace. Sash windows and swinging wood shutters were popular and remained a feature during the Dutch colonial revival period.

The History of Dutch Colonial Home

When European settlers came to America during the Colonial era of 1607-1775, they brought familiar home styles. Immigrants from the Netherlands constructed what we now refer to as the Dutch Colonial style.

These homes were most prevalent in dutch colonies in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. 

Early versions of these Dutch-style homes were simple, often featuring one main room, 1.5 stories, a porch on both sides, and a centered dutch-door on the front of the house. The gambrel roof was used in later versions, starting around 1775.

In the early 20th century, there was a renewed interest in this type of architecture called Dutch Colonial Revival.

Common Characteristics of Dutch Colonial Architecture

The early Dutch settlers that first arrived in New Amsterdam were considered great masons, which was reflected in their homes. Here are some key characteristics of Dutch colonial architecture.

Gambrel Roofs on Dutch Architecture

Gambrel roofs are the most distinguishable elements of Dutch architecture. They feature two sets of slopes on each side with a higher pitch in the middle, making them practical and decorative.  The roofs were popular for their ability to retain heat during the winter months.

Flared Eaves

Many Dutch Colonial homes had flared eaves, making their architecture unique and cottage-like. The flared eaves redirected water, acting as a gutter and letting water fall away from the sides of the house.

Timber Frames

While most original Dutch homes were made of stone, the frame was wood. Wood frames gave the builders something to work with, no matter the type of exterior material they had access to.

Ceiling Beams

While ceiling beams are necessary for any wooden house, the builders of Dutch homes left them exposed.

Sash Windows

Sash windows have multiple panels, with one of the panels opening. While this type of window is common today, it wasn’t during colonial times. 

Dutch House Doors

A dutch door has two separate sections.  Settlers could open the entire door or only the top half. The purpose of dutch doors was to allow fresh air in while keeping animals out. 

Arched Windows

While most windows on original Dutch colonial homes are square, some designs featured one or two arched windows on the gabled end of the roof.

End Chimneys

While English homes of this period had center chimneys, Dutch homes featured multiple-end brick chimneys. In warm climates, there was one end chimney. But in colder climates, there were two end chimneys to warm the house. The chimney work was one reason the Dutch were considered the Old World’s best masons.

One And A Half Stories 

The Dutch made their houses one-and-a-half stories to avoid the tax that was set for two-story houses during colonial times.

Dutch Colonial Revival Vs. French, Spanish, And Georgian Colonial Homes

The Dutch colonial house isn’t the only home style you’ll find during this time period. French, Spanish, and Georgian Colonial homes were also popular but featured different design details.

French Colonial

French Colonial Architecture
Image from Thomas Building Company, LLC

Most French colonial houses have heavy timber frames with a brick or stucco exterior. Some include a raised basement to support the floor that included the living quarters.

Most colonial homes with exterior stairs were French colonial homes. The stairs led to a large veranda up top.

Other characteristics of French colonial architecture included dormers, wraparound porches, high-pitched roofs, and vaulted ceilings. 

Spanish Colonial

Spanish Colonial House

Spanish colonial homes feature white stucco exteriors and red tile roofs. Although, since settlers built with surrounding materials, the exterior sometimes looked different.

Most of the windows were open holes or metal – glass was rare. Wood shutters were common in Spanish colonial homes. While arches and designs might be put into the clay, ornamentation was rare. The homes of the rich may have intricate tile, but other than that, the base was plain.

Just like in Mexican architecture, Spanish colonial homes had wood support beams that poked out from the walls on the exterior.

A courtyard was sought after by Spanish-Americans during this time, so any home that could have one did. To this day, most Spanish homes in the Americas feature courtyards, especially in rural areas.

English Colonial 

English Colonial Architecture
Image from Cummings Architecture + Interiors

The first English colonial homes were in the northern states. Settlers built them south-facing so sunlight could enter and help heat the home. 

These houses featured central chimneys to maintain space for fireplaces. Many English Colonial houses had an asymmetrical roof to maximize the heat from the south and minimize the coldness from the north. Inside the houses, clay and twigs acted as insulation.

Inside, the staircases wrapped around central chimneys, and thick beams supported the upper levels.


Georgian Colonial House
Image from Significant Homes LLC

Georgian architecture was prominent in the United States during the 1700 and 1800s.

One of its most distinguishable traits is symmetry. In Georgian homes, the front door is in the center, and windows are even and mathematically spaced. 

Georgian homes often had multiple fireplaces for warmth and to maintain symmetry. For example, if three fireplaces were needed, four were built, so there would be two chimneys on each side of the house. Clean corners were used at every given chance, making most homes square. 

Builders used Greek and Roman influences, most often on the exterior or entryway. These elements include pillars and pediments. Though not as common in classic Georgian homes, Georgian colonial homes loved this feature.

Modern Dutch Colonial Homes

Modern Colonial Architecture Style
Anthony Wilder Design/Build, Inc.

Many people try to replicate old Dutch colonial houses when building one from scratch. While you can’t copy them entirely, you can build one according to the Dutch colonial revival style.

Many modern Dutch colonial houses across the country have been preserved since they were first built in New Jersey, for example. You can check your newspaper for recent articles that feature modern examples of Dutch colonial architecture and the classic gambrel roof. The home are typically featured in local media.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Makes A House A Dutch Colonial?

Dutch Colonial homes have a gambrel roof, which is a broad, double-pitched roofs that slope flat and wide at the top and then switch angles and slope straight down. A Dutch door is also required. The top half of the homes have narrow dormer windows built into their rooflines. Modern versions of the style experienced a revival that enhanced their style from the early Colonial Era. It was after World War I that the Dutch style houses featured a porch and long eaves.

When Were Dutch Colonial Homes Popular?

It wasn’t until the 20th Century that the term “Dutch Colonial” emerged. Beginning in the Roaring Twenties, Dutch colonial architecture became popular. People started reconnecting with their early colonial roots, and Dutch colonial architecture style was recreated as a homage to the country’s first settlers.

Where Are Dutch Colonial Houses Popular?

Beginning in the 17th century, Dutch immigrants arrived in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. They brought with them their native architectural styles that incorporated native design elements and would later become associated with American architecture. Dutch colonial style homes soon became in high-demand. During the second half of the 20th century, Dutch colonials were built in various regions.

What Is A Dutch House Called?

Among the Dutch, a townhouse is the standard. The residences are built in a continuous block, so the houses share outer walls. A pair of houses are referred to as “townhouses.” An early dutch house had the same house style that first developed in. the Netherlands.

Who Invented Dutch Style Architecture?

Jacob van Campen, a Dutch architect, and one of the leaders of a group of architects who created an architectural style that would later re-emerge in 20th century America. Dutch settlers preserved the style in early America buildings. The early Dutch houses were built with similar distinct features like wood clapboard and infused natural materials. The style of the front doors changed some but in New York and New Jersey, the Dutch colonial houses remained true to their original features.

What Style Is Dutch Colonial?

Dutch Colonial is domestic architecture characterized by the distinctive gambrel roof that has a curved eave running along the length of the house. The home will feature a stone chimney, double pitched roof, natural materials, overhanging eaves split horizontally, big front door, and a large front porch.