The pillars of England’s Stonehenge, 2900-1400 B.C., might be the earliest example of sophisticated column design. These primitive pillars did not serve a structural purpose, rather, they were used to tell time and track celestial paths. The Egyptians are accredited, however, for carving the first true column out of stone. The Egyptians used columns, including fluted designs, to support and adorn pyramids.

The Classical style architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome was a remarkable period for the history of column design. The columns of the most famous buildings of this period, including the Parthenon great temple to Athena, set the stage for thousands of years. Celebrating symmetry, proportion, hierarchy and repetition, the influence of these columns and other classical architectural features are still very alive in modern design. In fact, many of today’s residential and commercial designs are rooted in these ancient traditions.

Often used for structural support and decorative appeal on porches, columns come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. If they are designed using classical principles, the tops of these architectural features, called column capitals, can be categorized into one of four different orders:

Simplified versions of Classical column designs became popular thanks to the Arts and Crafts movement of the 19th and 20th century as well as the development of Midcentury Modern design.

The tapered craftsman column remains the defining characteristic of craftsmen Arts and Crafts-style homes. The simple, square design and perfect proportions add incredible aesthetic value to homes even without intricate capitals.

The craftsman column is just one example of how these features have been employed to define entire architectural styles. As one architectural writer puts it, “Today, we look to columns as not so much a supporting structure but as that final brush stroke transforming the facade of a home into an artful form.”

Whether you’d like to restore a historic home or are looking to build a new home with a timeless design, contact the experienced and passionate team of builders and designers at TMS Architects in New England. We can help you create the home of your dreams, ensuring no detail is left out.

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