During the Colonial Period, settlers in the United States would often design their houses to be reminiscent of those of their homeland. When the English settled in New England, the weather played a significant role in the way their homes would be designed. They took the elements of their English-styles homes and made adaptations which would protect them from harsh weather during the winter months. The new style they created is now often referred to as the Cape Cod style of architecture.

The biggest factor to take into consideration when designing their homes was the cold. In order to conserve heat, the English gave their homes low ceilings with a central chimney. Atop the ceiling would be a steep roof, which allowed for much of the snow to fall off the house. Shutters would be placed on the windows to help protect residents from harsh winds.

Along with the features designed for weather, there were others which were naturally found amongst almost all of these Cape Cod-style houses. The front door, for example, would often be placed right in the center of the house. On either side of the door, there would be multi-paned, double-hung windows. The gables of the house's roof would be on the sides of the house, rather than on the front and rear facades.

Between the 1930s and 1950s, a revival of the Cape Cod style emerged in America. It still had much of the same features, but with minor adjustments or additions. Some of these adjustments included relocating the chimney to one end of the house, having only single-paned windows, and having shutters that did not close and were only used for decoration. As for the additions, these new houses would often have large dormers to increase the amount of living space on the second floor. Some houses would also have either a garage or an additional room attached to either the side that did not have a chimney or the rear of the house.

"Capes", as the second incarnation of the style is often called today, can be found in many of Staten Island's Mid-Island and South Shore neighborhoods. Examples of these would be the neighborhoods of Eltingville, Great Kills, and New Dorp. They can also be seen in some of Staten Island's North Shore communities, such as New Brighton, St. George, and Sunset Hill. One neighborhood that has a large number of Cape-style houses is Lighthouse Hill, which consists of less than one dozen streets in Staten Island's center.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on
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