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Creole Architecture Along the Gulf Coast
Circa 1772 LaPointe-Krebs house in Pascagoula, MS
Creole architecture began with the French settlement of the Gulf Coast area as a reaction to the climate and the way people lived. Today, it is still a popular style in the South as it is an economical, somewhat inexpensive way to build a home, while keeping a classic style that most people enjoy. The Creole style is believed to be a melding of several cultures: the Native American tribes of the area and the French settlers. The French came from three areas: French Canada, the colonies in the West Indies, and of course, the motherland.
Circa 1834 Creole Cottage in Mobile, AL
The Building Style
The steep roof that characterizes a Creole building style evolved from the extremely rainy Gulf Coast. First French colony, Mobile, AL, is still the rainiest city in the United States at 5 feet of rain a year, and the first homes featured a roof that would quickly slough off the rain from the roof with porch galleries attached (see photo of Pascagoula, MS Krebs house) . Additionally, the French may have noticed the Native American tribes of the area, the , and their open air shelters built off the ground to catch breezes. The floor plan originally featured four rooms or two rooms with doors connecting all rooms with no interior hallway. French Canadian homes had an extremely steep roof; it is theorized that by joining that style roof with the galleries of the Native Americans of the Gulf Coast and West Indies (see Krebs House roof), we come to the typical roofline when the French first settled. As time went on, a steep roof over a basic square box, allowing for porch galleries, dominated the style( see photo of Portier house). Creek and the Choctaw
Out of Print Classic You Must Have!
Circa 1836 Hall-Ford House In Mobile
Creole Cottages Through The Years
As time went on, the architectural style held through the later nineteenth century. Later, the English introduced an interior hallway to bring more air into the living area. The addition of dormer windows on the second floor along with the front porch area allowed the homeowner's taste to be varied. Raised creole cottages of up to three stories were popular (see Hall-Ford house picture) and allowed more space. Greek Revival architecture, popular during much of the early to mid 1800's, was easy to adapt to the Creole style. Also, as time went on and new building trends became fashionable, the Creole cottage allowed inexpensive changing of the front porch to introduce Victorian style upgrades such as gingerbread woodturning.
A Companion Book
The Creole Cottage Today
Today, there are many websites to help you find your own Creole house plan. A quick search on any search engine will help you find the perfect plan for you. The homes are extremely energy efficient, simple to build since it is basically a big square, and pleasantly symmetrical to the eye. As you sit on your front or back porch, sipping some sweetened iced tea, enjoy the cooling breezes and American style.
Just One of Many Creole House Plans on Southern Living Plans
Gone With Katrina- The Mississippi Gulf Coast
For Further Reading About the Creole House in Louisiana
Cities to View Creole Architecture
The term Creole designates a French colonial architecture that is found along the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast as these were the first settlements. The Mississippi Gulf Coast was settled in 1699, Mobile, Alabama was settled in 1702, and finally New Orleans was settled in 1718. Examples are also found in Pensacola, FL and Galveston, TX as well. Although Katrina wiped out some great examples, particularly a high concentration in Waveland/Bay St. Louis, MS, one can still see these styles in Mobile, AL, New Orleans, LA, and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Enjoy the homes and experience the Gulf Coast people's hospitality.