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Slave Community. In the development of southern architecture slaves constructed both slave quarters as well as larger plantation homes. Choose 3 examples of these types of structures and discuss why they were used, they overall design (using terminology) and also the origins of the design ideas and why these design elements were incorporated into the buildings.
The plantation architecture in the South developed over centuries, reflected not only the evolution of the slave communities, but also their interaction with the owners, their cultural background and their integration in the economic structure of the South. Many of the phases in this development, including creolization, brought forth new elements in architecture, as well as in the anthropological and cultural evolution of these communities. The aim of this paper is to discuss Southern architecture with distinct examples from plantation houses and slave communities, with an additional perspective on creaolization and its impact.
A general characteristic of the plantation setting is that the plantation formed an economic entity that was targeting a particular sector of agriculture that was being primarily cultivated: tobacco, cotton etc. In that sense and starting from this perception, the plantation's architecture was designed so as to "support the production and processing of cotton and to house those who produced it: the owner, the manager or overseer" (Encyclopedia of Alabama, 2008). With that in mind, the plantation was arranged in a particular way in terms of the houses and slave quarters.
The example of the Preuit Oaks Plantation, near Leighton in the Tennessee Valley, Alabama, is interesting, including because it reflects a general theoretical perception that the plantation owners awarding less time and money to the main house's architecture and were rather interested in reinvesting the profits in land and slaves or in supporting the social stature of the family. The house itself in the case of this plantation is not very big,
The owner's house was the focal point of the plantation, to the degree to which all slave quarters that had been built sufficiently close to the owner's house were assimilated to being part of the house itself (Vlach, 1993). This particularity of the architecture was reflected in the case of the Preuit Oaks Plantation, where the slave quarters were placed to the rear of the house, in an informal arrangement. This type of assimilation was also translated in the general perception that the household slaves were closer linked to the plantation and to the owner and that, as such, there was a smaller chance of them revolting or running away than the other slaves. Several outbuildings, other than the slave quarters, including the cotton storage house or the outside kitchen, as well as the supervisory office.
Many of the architecture in states further inland than the original colonies reflected several particular characteristics. On one hand, many of them had started as frontier dwellings and, as a consequence, were improved versions of what was originally a log house or something else that was small and unpretentious. At the same time, many of the architectural elements were borrowed from the East Coast, including what was known later on as the "I house" (Encyclopedia of Alabama, 2008).
The I house was two stories high and one room deep (), but this type of architecture was actually adapted to the climate in the deep South, since it provided direly needed ventilation on three sides, as well as a veranda that could also become very useful in the summer. The Seale Plantation House on Moses Hill in Alabama is an excellent example of an "I house."
The actual slave quarters are different from state to state, but several main categories can be drafted. Many of the slave quarters remained significantly rudimentary, often not more than a log cabin, sometimes with Earth floors and with shutters instead of glass windows. The quarters were generally located around the fields, to maximize work exposure. Some slave quarters were occasionally built by slaves to mimic, to some degree, some of the characteristics of the main house, usually in areas that were less obvious and more common in general, such as the roof.
Simplicity is not necessarily a characteristic for all slave quarters. Some of these, quite interesting, brought several characteristics of traditional African architecture (including, though, some of the elements previously…[continue]
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