New England Architecture – Course Website

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New England Architecture, 1620-1900  1:00-2:30 p.m.  6-week course begins 11/10

Teacher: David Anton Spurr

Co-host: Kernan Cross

Class Syllabus

The old houses of New England testify to the daily lives, the tastes, and the spirit of those who came before us, and they have their own character. New England’s vernacular architecture is distinct in its beauty and originality, its transformation of European models, its adaption to the natural environment, and its reflection of social and economic conditions. This course will serve as an introduction to the main movements of that history in the styles known as Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek revival, and the various manifestations of Victorian, including the Shingle Style. The emphasis is on residential architecture, without excluding church and civic buildings. Reference will be made to the work of architects such as Colen Campbell, Robert Morris, Robert Adam, Charles Bulfinch, Asher Benjamin, Samuel McIntire, Alexander Jackson Davis, H.H. Richardson, William Ralph Emerson, Stanford White, John Calvin Stevens, and Edith Wharton.

Nov. 10  Colonial: Simplicity and Integrity

Nov. 17  Georgian: Vitruvius Americanus

Nov. 24  Federal and Greek Revival: Classic Graces

Dec. 1   Victorian Revivals I: Gothic, Stick, Italianate, Second Empire

Dec. 8    Victorian Revivals II: Queen Anne, Romanesque, Restoration

Dec. 15  Shingle Style: Organic Freedoms

There are no required readings for this course, but for those who wish to read up on the subject, a good introduction is James L. Garvin’s A Building History of Northern New England. Carole Rifkind’s A Field Guide to American Architecture is another authoritative source.

On more specific subjects I would recommend Henry-Russell Hitchcock’s The Architecture of H. H. Richardson and His Times, Vincent Scully’s The Shingle Style, and (for intellectual and cultural context) Van Wyck Brooks’ The Flowering of New England.

A more complete bibliography follows (next page), with items arranged historically.

Historical Bibliography

Colen Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus, 1716

James Gibbs, A Book of Architecture, 1728

Robert Morris, Lectures on Architecture, London, 1734-36

_____. Select Architecture, being Regular Designs Well-Suited to Town and Country, 1755

Batty Langley, The City and Country Builder’s and Workman’s Treasury of Designs, London, 1741

Robert and James Adam, The Works in Architecture, vols. I-II, London, 1773-1779

Asher Benjamin, The Country Builder’s Assistant, 1798.

_____. The American Builder’s Companion, Boston, 1806.

Edward Shaw, Civil Architecture, Boston, 1831

Andrew Jackson Downing, Cottage Residences, New York, 1842.

_____. The Architecture of Country Houses, New York, 1850.

Horatio Greenough, “American Architecture,” United States Magazine and Democratic Review, Washington, 1843.

Minard Lafever, The Beauties of Modern Architecture, New York, 1839; The Modern Builder’s Guide, New York, 1846

Proceedings of the General Convention of Congregational Ministers, A Book of Plans for Churches and Parsonages, New York, 1853.

George Augustus Wheeler and Henry Warren Wheeler, History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine, Boston, 1878.

George Sheldon, Artistic Country-Seats, New York, 1887.

John Calvin Stevens and Albert Winslow Cobb, Examples of American Domestic Architecture, New York, 1889.

Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, The Decoration of Houses, New York, 1898.

Fiske Kimball, Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and the Early Republic, New York, 1922.

Norman Morrison Isham, Early American Houses, New York, 1928.

Henry-Russell Hitchcock, The Architecture of H. H. Richardson and His Times, New York, 1936.

Van Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England, New York, 1936.

Vincent Scully, The Shingle Style. New Haven, 1955

Jill Grossman and Curt Bruce, Revelations of New England Architecture, New York 1975.

Deborah Thompson, Ed. Maine Forms of American Architecture, Waterville ME, 1976.

Carole Rifkind, A Field Guide to American Architecture. New York, 1980

Stanley Schuler, Old New England Homes, West Chester PA, 1984

Lisa Mullins, ed. Architectural Treasures of Early America: New England by the Sea. Harrisburg PA, 1987.

Patricia McGraw Anderson, The Architecture of Bowdoin College, Brunswick ME, 1988.

Peter Nabokov and Robert Easton, Native American Architecture, New York, 1989.

James L. Garvin, A Building History of Northern New England, Hanover NH, 2001