The Italian Renaissance, Spanish Renaissance, the Beaux-Arts, Venetian Gothic architecture and styles had a very strong impression and spread very quickly. These styles had also a tremendous influence on the overseas United States of America. Namely, the USA looked back to the European past architecture and took the best from it to revive it in the 19th century. They came up with the Mediterranean Revival, which is a design style inspired by the European Renaissance, more precisely, by the countries that beautifully lie on the Mediterranean.
The Architectural Style
The Mediterranean Revival features buildings of rectangular shape with a perfect symmetry. The walls are massive with symmetrically proportional doors and windows and coated facades. Usually, the roofs are made of classic red tiles; and windows that are arranged symmetrically are usually arch-shaped or circular and very high so they express a sense of magnificence. The buildings and houses usually consist of one or two floors and have a wrought iron or wooden balcony with pronounced doors to add an extra touch to the whole structure.
Walls were covered with layers of stucco, the aggregate-made material which is applied wet and when it dries it hardens. Its purpose is decorative and it can feature different designs and patterns on the wall. This wall coating is used to make buildings look more attractive and they add a touch of sophistication. Stucco can also be applied to the ceilings indoors.
When it comes to ornaments they are either simple and classic resembling classicism and renaissance or they are overly dramatic recalling the Gothic architecture. Buildings built in the Revival Mediterranean style also have very often lush gardens, large parcels of green grass and flowers surrounding the property making it look luxurious and fairytalish.
The 19-th century buildings stand out even today as something grandiose, romantic, and mysterious. The buildings that were constructed in this style were usually hotels, commercial structures, but also apartment dwellings and residences.
August Geiger was one of the best known architects that designed the buildings in the Mediterranean style and he accounts for many beautiful construction that are admired to this very day in the USA. Some of his best works are registered in the US National Register of Historic Places. He was born in Florida, and one of his most admired works is also the beautiful Florida-based Villa Serena built in 1913. It served as the winter home of politician Jennings Bryan. The Villa is a symmetric composition that blends in perfectly with the environment and nature. The Villa is listed in the US National Register of Historic Places.
Another of his works is the Miami-Dade County Courthouse that was built from 1925 to 1928. It is also located in Florida and has 28 floors and it features a terra cotta façade. It rises above the beautiful city and stands out as a sign of a glorious past. The building is still functional today and has been transformed into the main civil courthouse. The building was the tallest building for a very long time with its 360 feet of height.
Other Examples Featuring the Mediterranean Revival Style
The Ambassador Hotel, LA, California
It was one of the most exquisite works in architecture built in 1921. The hotel had a long history before it was demolished in 2005. Many events were hosted in the hotel like the Academy Awards in 1929 and 1940. The hotel went down in history as the place where the US Attorney General, Robert Kennedy (President Kennedy’s brother) was assassinated.
Many celebrities could be spotted in the luxurious hotel as well as politicians who hosted their conferences in this very hotel. The hotel featured a very popular nightclub that was visited throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s.
After Robert Kennedy was shot in 1968, the hotel started slowly to dissolve. The increased drug use and dealer community which started to rise around the hotel contributed also to the closure of the hotel. It was finally shut down in 1989 and was only available for filming and private events. The hotel was demolished piece by piece in 2005 and 2006.
Delaware and Hudson Passenger Station, NY
The station is located in Warren County at Lake George in New York. The station was built for two years (1909-1911) and it has only one story. The walls are stuccoed, as well as the brick tower that stands out from the rest of the building, since it features multiple stories. The roof is made of clay tiles as typical for the Mediterranean Revival style.
The station was active and functional until 1958 when it stopped providing rail services. The building still enriches the ambiance around Lake George and contributes to beautiful scenery.
The Freedom Tower
The Freedom Tower is a Florida-monument that was built in 1925 and it served as the premises of the Miami News newspaper. The tower is 78 m (255 ft) tall and makes the structure look magnificent. In 2008, the building was listed as a US Landmark. The building is still in operation, and nowadays it serves as a contemporary arts museum and an office used by the Miami Dade College staff.