A Field Guide to American Houses (Revised): The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture
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Now in paperback: the fully expanded, updated, and freshly designed second edition of the most comprehensive and widely acclaimed guide to domestic architecture: in print since its original publication in 1984, and acknowledged everywhere as the unmatched, essential guide to American houses.
This revised edition includes a section on neighborhoods; expanded and completely new categories of house styles with photos and descriptions of each; an appendix on "Approaches to Construction in the 20th and 21st Centuries"; an expanded bibliography; and 600 new photographs and line drawings.
*Starred Review* This outstanding volume covers more than 50 styles of American residential architecture, from early settlement homes of the seventeenth century to the modern “Millennium Mansions” of the present day. Expanded and completely revised from the 1984 edition, this edition includes American house design from the last three decades and adds more than 600 new photographs and illustrations.The introductory section, “Looking at American Homes,” is broken down into distinct narratives. “Style: The Fashions of American Houses” distills the majority of houses into one of four principal architectural traditions; “Form: The Shapes of American Houses” features copious line drawings that show ground plans and proportions; “Structure: The Anatomy of American Houses” details the walls, roofs, and structural elements of a house; and “Neighborhoods: The Groupings of American Houses” highlights the different types of neighborhoods, including a discussion of plans, density, streets and sidewalks, and development influences.Each section that follows covers a specific style (e.g., “Dutch Colonial,” “Italianate,” “Queen Anne,” “Tudor,” “Mission,” “Prairie,” “Ranch”), with notes on identifying features, principal subtypes, variants and details, and geographic occurrence. Numerous black-and-white photographs illustrate the wide variety of houses found within each style, and line drawings express both fine and broad details. The appendix “Approaches to Construction in the 20th and 21st Centuries” discusses prefabricated structures and “green” construction. Copious notes and a bibliography for further reference round out the work. Both scholars and average readers will find much to enjoy in this volume. Highly recommended for most public and academic libraries—and the price point may allow for a circulating copies. --Rebecca Vnuk
“The most authoritative dictionary of the language spoken by the built environment . . . McAlester’s book is excellent for the layperson who wants to wander about the neighborhood with a bit more authority, or perhaps for the homeowner who can’t decide what kind of windows might look best. It’s also useful to those of us who study preservation professionally, to bring our insistence that buildings are just as alive as plants—and just as worthy of careful, affectionate attention—into the broader cultural conversation about urban spaces. That conversation, in which the most mundane elements of building design are cast as characters in the story of a city, turns the streetscape into something greater than the brick and limestone it’s made of. It’s alive, noisy—and demands our close attention.”
—Angela Serratore, The New York Times Magazine
"Magisterial . . . The illustrated story of why our houses—great and humble and everything in between—look the way they do."
—Michael Tortorello, The New York Times
"Once you've pored through Virginia McAlester's photo-packed bible of American home design, you'll be able to identify the saltboxes, Dutch colonials, and brownstones lining your own street, and you'll understand the historical significance of each one."
—Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly
"The go-to resource for architecture spotters."
—Peter Terzian, Elle Décor
"Chronicles the past 400 years of American styles, from wigwam to mobile to modern."
—Alexandra Wolfe, The Wall Street Journal
—Pilar Viladas, House Beautiful
"Encyclopedic . . . For lovers of historic homes, this is a rich trove of not just details, but reasons for them."
—Susan Clotfelter, The Denver Post
"880 pages of scholarly wonder."
"The definitive guide to American housing styles."
—Jim Weiker, The Columbus Dispatch
"Outstanding . . . Expanded and completely revised . . . Both scholars and average readers will find much to enjoy in this volume."
—Rebecca Vnuk, Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
VIRGINIA McALESTER, was educated at Radcliffe and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a founding member and past president of Preservation Dallas and also of Friends of Fair Park, the support group for a National Historic Landmark. She serves as an advisor emeritus for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is the author of The Making of a Historic District: Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas, a 40-page booklet "how-to" published by the National Trust in 1975 that historic groups across the country have used as a guide in creating their historic districts. She is coauthor of The Homes of the Park Cities, Dallas: Great American Suburbs.
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
Truly a Masterpiece
I always wanted to renovate an old house and purchased a beautiful Colonial Revival home built in 1915. My architect referred to the previous edition of this guide often during the renovation of my home. The new version proves without a doubt that the author is one of the nation's foremost authorities on architecture. There are so many beautiful illustrations that help people who learn visually like me, link terms with the actual architectural elements. The new guide has been updated to include all styles up to the present day. Not only is this book a must for students of architecture, but anyone who owns a house, is interested in buying a house, or is in the industry. Truly a masterpiece.
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Outstanding reference book
By Miss V.
I love old houses so this review is based on that fact only (not an architectural student). This book is wonderful. It discusses and illustrates the styles of houses in the early days of our country to the present. There are detailed descriptions along with a plethora of photographs of all types of houses, my favorites being the Queen Anne, Tudor, and Gothic Revival (just a personal preference.) I think this is an amazing reference book, I would recommend it to anyone that loves old houses. In my case, because I was unfamiliar with a lot of the technical terms in McAlester's book, I also bought "Old House Dictionary", which helped immensely. Love this book.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
I especially like the line drawings at the start of each chapter ...
By Mistress of the Fort
This is probably the most-used resource book I have right now. I have the earlier edition and this is essentially the same thing with expanded sections of styles and sub-styles. Many pictures are updated, many more are the same. I especially like the line drawings at the start of each chapter that identify the key elements for a particular style. This book has been very helpful for my current client- I'm identifying the architectural styles of hundreds of non-historic, usually obscure style structures. Those key elements have been great to reference quickly since I usually have a pretty good idea what each structure might be. Because of this book, there are about fifteen structures in another state that my client is considering preserving now that we have identified something unique about them. As a preservationist, that gets me jazzed up!