Building by the book: pattern book architecture in New Jersey

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Rutgers University Press, 1992 - Architecture - 260 pages
In Building by the Book, Robert P. Guter and Janet W. Foster examine one important aspect of New Jersey's architectural history, the influence of "pattern books" on the state's residential architecture. By matching period illustrations to surviving houses, Guter and Foster explain why that old house next door looks like one down the street - or at the other end of the state. Drawing on New Jersey's rich pattern-book legacy, they demonstrate how architectural ideas from books and popular periodicals shaped New Jersey's built landscape from the colonial era to the advent of World War II. Although it presents a wealth of Gothic cottages, Italianate villas, Craftsman bungalows, and Sears "ready-cuts", Building by the Book is far more than a catalog of architectural styles. By relating the work of architects and pattern-book authors to the experiences of ordinary people who hungered for beautiful surroundings, Guter and Foster assess the impact of the art of architecture on everyday life in New Jersey. Their account of how styles and building technologies evolved with the help of published sources emphasizes New Jersey's importance as a laboratory for architectural change. From Minard Lafever's The Young Builder's General Instructor (1829) to Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Houses (1909), New Jersey architects and designers have influenced both home-grown architecture and national trends through their books. Building by the Book is unusually well written and copiously illustrated. By letting readers hear the voices of New Jersey women and men through diaries, letters, and published writings, Janet Foster and Robert Guter make abundantly clear the role of architecture as the art that is lived in.Their research reveals how for the last two hundred years pattern-book architecture, in particular, expressed the ideas, aspirations, and pretensions of New Jersey homeowners.

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