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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Historic Preservation & Archaeology > Learn About Topics > Buildings & Bridges > Architectural Styles > Federal Style Federal Style

Cole Evans House
Cole Evans House
Noblesville, IN - Hamilton County

Features to Look For:

  • Brick or wood frame construction
  • Flat arches, with masonry units radiating out from center
  • Delicate details, slender columns, other Classical architectural elements
  • Elliptical arches for doors or transoms
  • Chimneys "bridged" or joined at the top of a side wall
  • On mantels or woodwork -- delicate beading or fluting, oval sunburst, bull's eye corner blocks around doorways

Historians sometimes use the term Adamesque (after the English architect Robert Adam) rather than Federal. Adam created a sensation among his wealthy clients in England when he revived ancient classical ideas and motifs from Pompeii to decorate their estate houses. The style became fashionable for both furnishings and buildings in the eastern seaboard states in the 1780s. The Federal Style is characterized by its simple proportions, box-like exteriors and roofs, and large but narrow multi-paned windows. Builders limited ornamentation to simple detail around entrances, windows, and cornices. The occasional use of curvilinear forms adds to the lightness and delicacy which is typical of this style. Because the style was popular so early in Indiana's history (from about 1810 to 1840), most examples are located in southern Indiana, especially near navigable waterways and early roads.

Examples of Federal Style

Click to enlarge

Lenhart Farm
Lenhart Farm
Decatur, Adams County

Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church
Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church
Brookville, Franklin County
Photo - 1990

Cole Evans House
Cole Evans House
Noblesville, Hamilton County
Photo - 2000

Old Pike Inn
Old Pike Inn
New Albany, Floyd County
Photo - 2001

Levi Coffin House
Levi Coffin House
Fountain City, Fountian County
Photo - Courtesy of