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Historic Home Spotlight - The Arches of Olana Historic Estate

New York is filled with some of the most gracious historic architecture. One of the highlights, if you’re looking for something to marvel at, is the Olana Historic Site in Greenport, New York

With a blend of influences ranging from Victorian to Middle-Eastern, and distinguishable features including famous Tudor arches, gothic arches, and more, the Olana historic home is not something to miss. We believe that, of the New York famous estates, this Hudson Valley architecture deserves a spotlight. 

Read on to learn more about the Olana historic home, its history, and its most prominent features. 

Arches of Olana State Historic Site
Exterior photo of Olana Historic Site in Hudson Valley, NY. Credit: Wikipedia

About The Olana Historic Estate 

The Olana historic home was first occupied by the well-known artist, Frederic Edwin Church. Church also played a role in designing the mansion. The European and Middle-Eastern influences that can be seen in the architecture are a result of the travels of Church and his wife. Another role player in the design aspect was Calvert Vaux, who mainly functioned as a supervisor.

The construction of the home began in the late 1800s, 1870 to be exact, and was completed in 1874. Church’s family remained in the home until 1964, after which the State of New York purchased it and made it a National Historic Landmark. Soon after, in 1967, the mansion was made available for public viewing.

Upon first glance at the structure, you’ll immediately notice the asymmetry of the towers and block masonry. The Middle-Eastern influence is also easily recognizable on the building’s facade. With colored bricks, ceramic tile, stenciling, wood, and slate, you can’t miss the Eastern connections. Of course, you will also notice some Persian and Victorian notes too.

A feature that makes this structure unique is the contrast between its irregularity on the exterior versus the smooth flow of its interior. Inside, the mansion has remained as it was when Church resided there. It is extravagantly furnished with collectibles from Church’s travels and boasts about 40 paintings done by Church and his contemporaries.

However, what really makes this home particularly special, is the generous usage of arches throughout the structure. We take a look at these features below.

Historic Olana Estate Colorful Facade Brick Arches
Colorful brick arches highlight the facade of the Olana main house. Credit: Wikipedia

Prominent Architectural Features 

Archways in homes are a feature that can easily make the construction appear more classy and graceful. The Olana historic home is a prime example of this universal truth. 

The building boasts various arches, in different styles, both on the exterior and in the interior. These are prominent architectural features of the construction. Here are some of the famous arches in the home: 

Lancet Windows 

Arched windows, or lancet windows as they are otherwise known, are an elegant addition to any building. Today, they solve the problem of poor, crooked reveals for vinyl and aluminum windows. However, the feature was first recorded in the early French Gothic period, and also became a prominent feature of architecture when the English had their Gothic period. 

The Olana historic home boasts a variety of arched windows on every side, although the primary design seems to be a Lancet Window. Many of the windows, however, seem to have Persian influence too, with softer curves and pointed tips. 

Arched windows of the Olana Historic Estate
Lancet Windows in various sizes are found throughout the Olana Estate. Credit: New York By Rail

Gothic Arches 

Gothic arches are one of the most prominent historic arches that you can find around the Olana Historic

Estate. They are also known as pointed arches, by some. These arches carry undertones of medieval times and can signify strength and grandeur. 

As mentioned above, the Olana historic home boasts many of these arches, particularly as window frames. However, you can also find them inside the building. 

These features are not used nearly as much as they were in years gone by. But, since the Olana mansion was built in the 1800s, and designed by a man who took his influence from cultures around the world, the Gothic arches fit right in here.

Gothic Arches in Olana Interior
This historic photo from 1969 beautifully displays a variety of Gothic Arches inside Olana. Credit: HistoricStructures.com

Half-Circle Arches 

As you can imagine, this arch is named after the shape it reflects. This specific style of the arch is often connected to the architecture in the European region, particularly Spain and Tuscany. Some also say there is Morrocan influence in half-circle arches. 

You can see some half-circle arch windows in the master bedroom on the second floor. These three windows are quite unique in their use on the home as the majority of the arches around the estate feature a pointed tip.

Half-circle arches can add a feeling of comfort to a construction. With them, they bring a warm and cozy ambiance. These arches can be trickier to install though. Their rise can be limiting for their use in larger openings.

Half-Circle Arches in Olana Master Bedroom
Three Half-Circle Arches in the Olana master bedroom. Credit: Wikipedia

Tudor Arches 

The Tudor arch is reminiscent of old-world cathedrals in Europe and, as such, often brings an old-world feel or a classic touch. This arch has a tight radius on the sides and a peak in the center. It also has very soft curves on the top compared with other arches.

Inside the Olana historic home, you can find many Tudor arches. For example, they lead to the main stairs. In fact, all four sides of the court hall in the main house at Olana have Tudor arches. 

Tudor Arch in Olana Historic Site Main Parlor
A beautiful Tudor Arch in the main parlor of Olana. Credit: Olana.org

Final Thoughts On The Architecture Of Olana Historic Estate 

The Olana historic estate is an architectural marvel. One could spend hours discussing its features and motifs. Most interestingly, though, the home’s arches are its most prominent features. The variation of the styles and types of arches are out of this world. A modern-day designer might not think to mix motifs and influences in this way, yet it works so well on the Olana home! 

If you’re thinking of setting up some arches in your home, or on any building you’re designing, then the Olana estate is a great source of inspiration. And, while you may think that adding arches will be a tough job, it doesn’t have to be! 

Archways and Ceilings has you covered with our prefabricated archway kits! The kits come in all the styles used in the Olana estate and more! So get in contact with us today to get started on your archway project!

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