A Field Guide to American Houses

A Field Guide to American Houses

Book - 1984
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The guide that enables you to identify, and place in their historic and architectural contexts, the houses you see in your neighborhood or in your travels across America. 17th century to the present.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1984.
ISBN: 9780394739694
0394739698
0394510321
Branch Call Number: 728.0973 M114
Characteristics: xv, 525 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: McAlester, A. Lee (Arcie Lee), 1933-

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sarahcharlotte999
Apr 12, 2018

Ok, I admit it. I cherish a sick pride in having read each of the 850 pages in Virginia McAlester's magnum opus.

Unfortunately, I still can't tell the difference between many of these house styles, even with the author's patient guidance. Italianate or Italian Renaissance? Classical revival vs. Greek revival vs. Neoclassical? And please, I need help with mullions, muntins and lintels - aren't those small shellfish, not parts of windows?

Even after slowly digesting this book over the course of four years, I'm lucky if I can spot an architecture gimme, like half-timbering or a Tudor gable.

However, eating all these architectural veggies has its payoff: the dessert course, aka the chapter on McMansions. After following the author on a tour of thousands of houses, you learn enough to snark along with her. "Look at that Millenium Mansion. What a beauty. Multiple cascading hipped roofs?! You gotta be kidding me!!"

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