American Houses: A Field Guide to the Architecture of the Home

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar 9, 2004 - Architecture - 416 pages
2 Reviews
American Houses is a historical guide to the architecture of the American home. While other architectural field guides show only fašades, this book includes floor plans, showing how the form of a house arises from its function. Photographs and drawings of exteriors illustrate the significant field marks of each style and help pinpoint the key elements that can identify a house even when it has been remodeled beyond recognition. Beautifully illustrated, clearly written, and impeccably researched, American Houses is an essential reference for anyone interested in the history of American residential architecture.

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American houses: a field guide to the architecture of the home

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For armchair architectural historians and students of American architecture, this book is a gem. Arranged in roughly chronological order, it covers the architecture of American homes from 1600 to the ... Read full review

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"American Houses" by Gerald Foster is the best book I have found on recognizing and understanding North American architectural house styles. I have come to refer to it constantly and have even bought additional copies of it for my friends. Most other books of the type fail to distinguish between Georgian and New England Large House let alone illustrate the differences in the various Georgian types (New England, Mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake Bay, etc.). I could only give a rating of four stars out of a possible five, however, because of two reasons: 1] There are some very common architectural styles that I felt deserved treatment (the Foursquare, the most important Ranch styles, and what has been fairly well recognized as Contemporary, to name three. Other examples might include Eichler designs, A-Frames, Pomos, Barn Styles, and perhaps something could even be said about unstyled Folk houses--especially the gable-fronted ones). 2] Professor Foster sometimes assumes too much from his readers. On page 42, for example, he mentions continental dormers. I'm still trying to find out what those are. Still, "American Houses" by Gerald Foster is a superb reference and, I believe, essential for anyone interested in North American architectural styles. For people who merely want to stick their toe in the water and only buy one book about house styles, this would be the book. Out of so many volumes writen on the topic, only a few are worth a hang. Some are so bad that one gets the impression that their authors wouldn't know a pediment from an impediment. Not only is "American Houses" extremely authoratative, it is well structured, user-friendly, and fascinating. Moreover, it is very affordable.
Don M. Daniels


The New England Hearth
The Hudson River Valley Hearth
The MidAtlantic Hearth and the Upland South
The Chesapeake Bay Tidewater Hearth
Andrea Palladio
The Southern Tidewater Hearth
The French Mississippi Hearth
The Early Classical Revival
Early Victorian Styles
Late Victorian Styles
The Academic Revivals
Extreme Academic Architecture
Southwestern and California Styles
Indigenous Styles and the Bungalow
Modern Trends

The New Orleans Urban House 17881850
The Spanish Colonial Hearths
Commanding officers quarters Fort Union MAIc 1870
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About the author (2004)

Formerly vice president and partner of the Architects Collaborative, the famous firm founded by Walter Gropius, Gerald Foster has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Boston Architectural Center as well as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited at the DeCordova Museum and at various galleries. His books include A Field Guide to Airplanes, A Field Guide to Trains, and American Houses: A Field Guide.

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