French Colonial

Hoi An's old quarter is commonly regarded as Vietnam's best example of French Colonial architecture.
Saigon Central Post Office, as French Colonial architecture, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

French Colonial is a style of architecture used by the French during colonization. Many former French colonies, especially those in Southeast Asia, have previously been reluctant to promote their colonial architecture as an asset for tourism; however, in recent times, the new generation of local authorities has somewhat 'embraced' the architecture.[1]

A French colonial villa located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In the United States

French Colonial was one of four domestic architectural styles that developed during the colonial period in what would become the United States. The other styles were Colonial Georgian, Dutch Colonial, and Spanish Colonial. French Colonial developed in the settlements of the Illinois Country and French Louisiana. It is believed to have been primarily influenced by the building styles of French Canada and the Caribbean.[2] It had its beginnings in 1699 with the establishment of French Louisiana but continued to be built after Spain assumed control of the colonial territory in 1763. Styles of building that evolved during the French colonial period include the Creole cottage, Creole townhouse, and French Creole plantation house.[3]

Parlange Plantation House in Mix, Louisiana, was built c. 1754 and is an early example of French Colonial architecture in the United States.

In Canada


Most buildings constructed during the French colonial period utilized a heavy timber frame of logs installed vertically on a sill, poteaux-sur-sol, or into the earth, poteaux-en-terre. An infill of lime mortar or clay mixed with small stones (pierrotage) or a mixture of mud, moss, and animal hair (bousillage) was used to pack between the logs. Many times the infill would later be replaced with brick. This method of construction was used in the Illinois Country as well as Louisiana.

General characteristics of a French Colonial dwelling included a raised basement which would support the floor of the home's primary living quarters. Exterior stairs were another common element; the stairs would often climb up to a distinctive, full-length veranda or "gallery," on a home's façade. The roof over the veranda was normally part of the overall roof. French Colonial roofs were either a steep hipped roof, with a dormer or dormers, or a side-gabled roof. The veranda or gallery was often accessed via French doors. French Colonial homes in the American South commonly had stuccoed exterior walls.[4]

Examples of French Colonial architecture in the United States and Canada
Ursuline Convent in New Orleans, built c. 1752. It is the oldest-surviving building from the French colonial period in New Orleans. It is an example of stuccoed brick construction. 
Gabriel Peyroux House in New Orleans, built c. 1780, is an example of briquette-entre-poteaux (brick-between-post) construction. 
Lorreins Plantation, aka Old Spanish Customs House, in New Orleans, built c. 1784 
Destrehan Plantation near Destrehan, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, built c. 1787, portions were altered in 1840 to reflect the Greek Revival style. 
Madame John's Legacy in New Orleans, built c. 1788 
Bequette-Ribault House in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri, c. 1789 is an example of poteaux-en-terre construction. 
Louis Bolduc House Museum, in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri, c. 1792 is an example of poteaux-sur-sol construction. 
Bauvais-Amoureaux House in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri, c. 1792 is an example of poteaux-en-terre construction. 

See also


  2. Gamble, Robert Historic architecture in Alabama: a guide to styles and types, 1810-1930, page 180. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8173-1134-3.
  3. "French Creole Architecture". Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation. National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 2008-08-02.
  4. Bigolin, Steve. "The Landmarks of Barb City", Daily Chronicle, 28 February 2005. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
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