Field Guide to American Houses

Field Guide to American Houses

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Publisher: Knopf, NY, 1984
Branch Call Number: 728.3 MCA 1984
Characteristics: 525p illus
Additional Contributors: McAlester, Lee

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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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