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Central-passage house

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Title: Central-passage house  
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Subject: Hall and parlor house, Bride's Hill, Belle Mina, Plantation complexes in the Southeastern United States, Neo-eclectic architecture
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Central-passage house

Floor plan of a basic central-passage house.

The central-passage house, also known variously as center-hall house, hall-passage-parlor house, Williamsburg cottage, and Tidewater-type cottage, was a vernacular, or folk form, house type from the colonial period onward into the 19th century in the United States.[1][2]

It evolved primarily in colonial [3]

Architectural features

Locust Grove, a wood-frame example near Dillwyn, Virginia. Built prior to 1794.

The central-passage house was built much like the earlier hall and parlor house, except that its hall and parlor were divided by a central passageway. In fact, in many of the earliest examples a hall-parlor arrangement had a second partition added inside the existing structure or an additional room was added to one side to form a central-passage house.[2][3] In form it was one-and-a-half storied, on a raised foundation, and had gable-end chimneys. Earlier examples were always one room deep (single-pile) and had a steeply pitched roof. This eventually gave way to two room deep (double-pile) types and a more gentle sloping roof with dormer windows by the end of the 18th century. Also, the earliest examples display some asymmetry, but this was quickly superseded by a strictly symmetrical facade. It usually employed the "double square" formula, that is, the house was twice as long as it was high.[1] Timber framed with weatherboarding and brick examples are known equally.[2]

Stylistic elements that were typical of the type were massive bookend chimneys with rectangular caps, flat or segmented arches over door and window openings, and a raised, often molded brick water table. When built with brick masonry load-bearing walls, decorative detailing often included Flemish bond and English bond. Diapering (diagonal diamond patterns done with darker brick) was also common on gable ends.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Gamble, Robert (1990). Historic architecture in Alabama: a guide to styles and types, 1810-1930. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. pp. 33–36.  
  2. ^ a b c d e Foster, Gerald L. (2004). American Houses: A Field Guide to the Architecture of the Home. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 94–96.  
  3. ^ a b Williams, Kimberly Prothro (2003). A Pride of Place: Rural Residences of Fauquier County, Virginia. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. pp. 19–22.  
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