Architectural historians seem agreed that the earliest houses of English colonists on these shores were extremely crude.
Most colonists built Gothic cottages like the ones they had back in England. These early 17th century structures usually had two rooms on the first floor and a loft above, with boxed stairs that wound around the fireplace. A few of these early homes, modified for comfort, remain with us.
In the 18th century, splendid Georgian-style houses were built in this country. The magnificent examples that are still with us are among the great houses of America.
But bridging these styles and centuries is another type of house, many of which are still standing. To the existing, medieval-style houses of the earlier colonists were added small rooms, usually in the rear, a change that was not radical but readily discernible.
Brick supplanted frame as a building material and second stories began to appear, replacing the simple loft. Late in the 17the century the gambrel roof came on the scene and the variations in its styling between Tidewater and New England, for example, constitute a story in themselves.
The final evolution of transitional to Georgian was marked by the appearance of catercornered fireplaces, open stairways, sash windows rather than casements and the "catslide" roof to cover the newly-created rooms. Almost every county in the Tidewater area has examples.