What Is an Acadian Style House?
In the 19th century, the Acadian style house became a popular choice of construction for homes, particularly in wet or wintry climates. The Acadian style house was prominent in maritime Canadian areas, and the style blended West Indian influences with Canadian practicality. The houses were often laid out in a Georgian style — that is, the rooms were arranged on either side of a central hallway with a kitchen at the back of the house and chimneys on the far walls of either side of the house.
An Acadian style house features a steep, sloping roof with gables that shed snow and moisture effectively. The house was typically one or one and a half stories high, and the upstairs loft area created by the steep roof was used as a sleeping area. The space could also be used as an attic storage space. The Acadian style house was often made of native woods that were not easily affected by insects or moisture; cypress was a popular choice in the southeast United States. Further, the Acadian style house is built either on blocks or sometimes on stilts to protect from flooding, rot due to ground moisture, and insects.
The Acadian style house experienced a revival in the American southeast, becoming a prominent architectural style in states like Louisiana. In the 1970s, these houses began springing up again, this time with a Creole influence. The Acadian influence in that area was already prominent, as Acadian settlers had been living in the area for a century or more. The structures had to be adapted to the Gulf Coast's climate, eventually the houses were raised off the ground to avoid flooding.
Instead of using stone to construct the houses as they did in Acadia, those settling in Louisiana used clay and Spanish moss mixed together to construct the walls. This material was good insulation and was readily available. On the outside of the house, the mixture was covered with horizontal planks of cypress to protect against the rain. The footprint of these houses was most often nearly square, and the steep roof would extend over the porch on the front and/or back of the house to create an outdoor living space.
While the Canadian version of Acadian houses had basements for storage, this was not possible in Louisiana and the Deep South because of the high water table. Therefore, above-ground cellars were built attached to the house. Early houses were very small, with many having only one room, but as time passed, multi-room houses began to spring up, with doorways leading to a central hallway.
When I was growing up we lived in an Acadian style home. The loft area was where my sister and I slept. Most of the time we liked sleeping up here, but I remember in the summer it would get really hot, even when the air conditioning was on.
As a kid I didn't think much about the style of house we were living in. Now when I see homes with this steep roof and the loft area upstairs, I am reminded of the home I grew up in. Our bedroom had walls that were slanted, which I never realized was a bit unusual until I went away to college.
My aunt and uncle live in the South and live on a street where there is a row of Acadian style houses. Most of them look almost the same with the same basic design.
Since they have to prepare for frequent flooding, none of these homes have basements. I live in the Midwest and every home I have ever lived in has a basement.
I can see why this style of home is popular in this area. They get a lot of moisture here and that is one reason why you see so many of these houses in this area.
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