Traditional House Forms

Hall Plan House

The Hall Plan House is a simple one room cabin, the most elemental of housing forms. Building materials varied depending on cost, availability and preference, but Hall Plan Houses were constructed of log, frame, brick, stone and mud through the Middle Atlantic region. A single door opens directly into the living space which is heated by an open fireplace in early examples or a stove in later ones. Hall Plan Houses usually have a least one window, often found next to the door or in the gable end opposite the chimney. A ladder or corner stair leads to the upper story or loft which is used for sleeping or storage. These one room houses were very common in the early days of European settlement in 1700s but, as settlers became more financially secure, larger homes were prefered and additions were often added. Homes built in this form in the mid to late 1800s were often associated with mill, farm or urban laborers. Due to their age, design and lack of amenities, these buildings are rare survivors in the built environment today.

Hall and Parlor Plan House

The Hall and Parlor Plan House form is a tradional two-room plan, often seen in domestic buildings dating from the early period of European settlement in Pennsylvania. Constructed to provide basic shelter and using a traditional form seen in Europe, the Hall and Parlor Plan House is a basic cabin divided into two rooms, placed side by side, often with a fireplace at each gable end. The term "hall" is a bit confusing since it refers to the kitchen and primary working space of the home, sometimes called the "common room." The parlor may have been used as a place to entertain guests as the name implies, but it might also have served as a bedroom, especially for single story houses. If used as a sitting room, the parlour often had more formally desgined architectural trim such as paneling, moldings or mantle pieces. If the house had a second story or loft for sleeping, stairs were located in the corner of the hall or between the two rooms. German influenced Hall and Parlor Plan Houses usually had corner stairs and sometimes a pent roof above the first story. As with Hall Plan Houses, after the mid-1800s Hall and Parlor Plan Houses were workers' houses, built by and for those of limited means.

Double Cell Plan House

Similar to the Hall and Parlor Plan House, the Double Cell Plan House has two rooms, although they are arranged front to back rather than side by side. A double hearth fireplace was located at the center of the exterior side wall or sometimes two separate side wall fireplaces were often used. Later Double Cell Plan houses might have only a a stove flue running between the two rooms. Sometimes a shed roofed room known as a lean-to addition was added to the rear of a single room house to create a two room house. The lean-to additions were often unheated and unfinished with exposed framing so they were distinctly different in appearace from Double Cell Plan Houses.

Penn Plan or Quaker Plan House

The Penn or Quaker Plan House was a three-room house form made up of a large hall or common room and two smaller rooms on the other side of an interior wall. The common room usually contained a large fireplace for cooking usually located along the exterior wall, a stair to the upper level, built in storage cupboards and a door opening directly to the outside. The two smaller rooms provided space for an office, sitting room or bedroom, with an exterior side wall fireplace opening into each room and single window in each.

Double Parlor Plan House

The Double Parlor Plan House is another variation of an early three-room vernacular house form. Less common than the Penn or Quaker Plan House, the Double Parlor Plan House was most often built by English settlers in the 18th century. Rooms of similar size were arranged in a line under a common roof ridge. The Double Parlor Plan House form consists of three similar size rooms, a kitchen, a parlor and a sleeping room arranged in a line.

Continental Plan House

The Continental Plan House is a distinctive building type associated with early German settlement and found mostly in 18th century Pensylvania. The three room floor plan is almost identical to the Penn or Quaker Plan House, with a large kitchen (kuche) room and two smaller side rooms, a parlor (stube) and a sleeping chamber (kammer). German Continental plan houses were constructed of log, stone and frame and are defined by their common plan with an internal center fireplace often with a five plate stove and an offcenter front door leading directly into the large kitchen. A rear door into the kitchen lies opposite the front door. The winder stair is typically located in the corner of the kitchen room. Sometimes the large kitchen is divided into two rooms with a smaller multipurpose room called a kammerli at ther rear. The German influence on the Continental Plan House is most evident by its internal chimney and off center doors. The prevalence of this house form declined by the end of the 18th century as German settlers adopted the more formal symmetrical design of the English inspired Georgian style.