With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, what better way to celebrate than with an article on the ways the Irish have influenced American architecture? From the Gothic Revival style of churches to the Victorian-era row houses, Irish architects and builders have left their mark on the American landscape. Even iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building were designed by Irish-American architects. The Irish have influenced the United States in so many ways, affecting our politics, industry, organized labor, religion, literature, music, and art. A less-known contribution is their architectural influence.
Irish immigrants brought with them a unique set of skills and styles that shaped the building environment of many American cities, including New York, Boston, and Chicago. From grand cathedrals to humble row houses, Irish architects and builders have left an indelible mark on the American landscape.
Irish influence on American architecture
What’s more famous than the White House? An Irish architect by the name of James Hoban designed the famous American landmark that has housed every American President other than George Washington. Hoban’s design was based on Leinster House, the legislature building of the Republic of Ireland.
The Empire State Building is another well-known building with Irish roots. Construction began on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1930 and completed 14 months later. Many of the workers were Irish immigrants. The Irish flag was flown from the top of the building upon completion. The building stood as a symbol of hope during the Great Depression, giving many New Yorkers a reason to be proud.
The Chrysler Building was designed by William Van Alen and constructed by Irish contractor Peter J. Coleman. The striking structure not only showcased the innovative Art Deco style but also represented the hard work and determination of both the Irish and American people.
Irish immigrants brought with them a knowledge of construction and a style of architecture known as “vernacular architecture,” which can be seen in Irish-American communities throughout the country.
The development of vernacular architecture began when man was compelled to use local materials to build himself a shelter, a place of comfort, and a fortification against the elements. It is a simple and direct response to a person’s or a society’s specific construction requirements and has enabled man to create shelter according to his needs even before the invention of the architect. This can be seen in the simplicity of a traditional Irish home, which consists of a simple, white-washed box made from stone with a thatched roof.
This St. Patrick’s Day, I hope we remember how much Irish culture has influenced our American architecture. Over the past two centuries, Irish immigrants played a significant role in building America’s facilities. The impressive buildings speak to the tenacity and creativity of Irish immigrants who brought their talents and skills to America.
Nelson Construction and Renovations, a family business founded in 2006, is a design-build company that specializes in high-end remodels, home additions, and custom homes. With our headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, we serve homeowners all over Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. We are an award-winning member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
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