This diversity of titles includes several tomes on house history. If you find yourself with an architecture problem, these books should help you tell the differences among styles:
- Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester (Knopf, $45.00). This is a classic. Full of illustrations and easy to understand diagrams.
- Identifying American Architecture: A Pictorial Guide to Styles and Terms: 1600-1945 by John J. G. Blumenson (W.W. Norton, $15.95). This is a pocket size guide to house details.
- The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture by Rachel Carley (Holt, $27.00). Extensive text accompanies the drawings in this reference volume.
Don’t forget to check out the architecture problem in my most recent Photo Detective column in Family Tree Magazine (July 2009). The second installment of that column appeared in this space.
If you’re looking for a social history of early American architecture, my favorite is Where We Lived: Discovering the Places We Once Called Home, The American Home from 1775 to 1840 by Jack Larkin (Taunton, $40).
It covers everything from outhouses to mansions. Once you start reading Larkin’s book you’ll be hooked. I couldn’t put it down. Fascinating first person accounts make it so much more than a reference tool.