Landmark Society presents documentary on early architectural styles in Genesee County
The Landmark Society of Genesee County showed a second screening last night of its documentary on Federal-style Architecture to highlight the importance of the historical style.
The event at GO ART! featured the live action documentary and insights from guest speaker Bernard Schmieder, producer of the film and past president of the Landmark Society.
The film takes you back to the early 1800s when the Federal Style was the most popular home design for family farmers and artisans settling in Batavia. The style differed from Colonial-style homes in many ways. Federal homes were typically rectangular structures with symmetrical elements. The style was mainly composed of simple designs and furnishings. Many of the design elements included circles, semi-circles and ellipses.
Most of the materials used to build the homes could be found on the land. All the wood needed to build the framework was cut down from nearby forests. Locally water powered sawmills made construction easy. Brick was also a common material used in building the structure. The bricks were made from locally dug clay and fired at brick yards.
Windows and doors were all made on sight as well. The large windows were divided into several panes with simple molding. The doors were flat paneled with latches. The main door was usually in the center of the house and the most decorative element of the exterior. The flooring was primarily made out of chestnut wood because it was easy to hand plane.
The distinguishing interior characteristic of a Federal-style home was the fireplace. There were no iron stoves so homeowners used brick fireplaces as their main source of heat. The largest fireplace was located in the center of the house and had a cooking hearth. Typically next to the cooking hearth was a beehive oven for baking bread. Smaller fireplaces were built in the bedrooms.
Following the screening, Schmieder held a discussion about making the movie and the restoration of the 1815 Federal-style home he and his wife, Jane, own in Bethany.
Schmieder restored the home room by room using the sawmill and blacksmith shop on the property.
"I enjoy woodworking so I was interested in restoring the home and using all the old hand tools," Schmieder said.
Although the home is not symmetrical it still has many Federal-style features including six fireplaces, a beehive oven, large windows, flat-paneled doors and chestnut board floors. Schmieder also made furniture by hand to match the Federal Style.
There are only a small amount of these Federal-style homes remaining in Genesee County. The Landmark Society hoped the screening revived the community's interest in historical architecture and the importance of preserving the Federal-style homes that remain.
In November, the Landmark Society will hold another screening for the second part of the architectural series which explores the Greek Revival Style. DVD copies of the series are also for sale.