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Under Live Oaks: The Last Great Houses of the Old South Hardcover – October 29, 2002

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

?Southerners seem to stay close to each other, accumulating ties of kinship in a way that ultimately becomes almost impossible to unravel, and thus the family house remains the center of births, marriages, and deaths through the generations.?
From Under Live Oaks

There is a part of the South that clings to its past, whether that past is an imagined or a real one. Resonant with antebellum elegance and sometimes turbulent history, the houses of Under Live Oaks act as a touchstone for another time, becoming repositories of rich family traditions for their owners.

This tenacity to hold on to their history is beautifully demonstrated in the decor of these houses, filled with antiques and personal treasures, decorated in the style that was fashionable 150 years ago and that has not been tampered with since. More than 200 images from acclaimed photographer Peter Woloszynski fill the pages of Under Live Oaks, giving a provocative view into a world many never see?a world of faded portraits, shelves of dusty porcelain, dolls lined up in an armchair, family letters, lace fans, invitations to the cotillion, old steamer trunks. These houses were the royal palaces of the age, furnished with the finest objects and fabrics?many imported from Europe?that the first half of the nineteenth century had to offer. Under Live Oaks offers a remarkably consistent vision of a period, a period that takes its place in the dark history of America and that casts a permanent shadow over its legacy.

The houses range from an Italianate villa in Columbus, Georgia, to a masterful Greek Revival mansion in Fairvue, Tennessee; from the charming Catalpa in St. Francisville, Louisiana, to the melancholy Winter Place in Montgomery, Alabama. The classic plantation houses of Natchez, Mississippi, compete in beauty with an elegant townhouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, and the historic Sherwood Forest in Charles City, Virginia. All the states of the Deep South are represented. A few of the houses are open to the public; others are unknown and unvisited except by family and friends. Yet all of them stand as witnesses to a bygone era.

Noted author Caroline Seebohm eloquently casts the stories of the land, the houses, and their owners. She vividly evokes the power of the architecture and interior design of these houses, and through her we hear the owners? pride of place and staunch allegiance to their family history. Under Live Oaks is an intimate tour of the Old South, an experience available to only a few and that in the not-too-distant future will be lost forever.

About the Author

Caroline Seebohm was born and brought up in England and graduated from Oxford University. She began her writing career covering interior design for House & Garden in New York. Her books include At Home with Books, At Home with Art, and English Country, as well as Boca Rococo: How Addison Mizner Invented Florida’s Gold Coast, and several other distinguished biographies. Caroline Seebohm lives on the banks of the Delaware River in New Jersey.

Peter Woloszynski left Poland for England when he
was three. After being educated in Surrey, he became an assistant at the Rossetti Studios in London, working with photographers Peter Williams, Barry Lalegan, and Teresa Traegar. Peter continued with studio work until 1984, when he started working for The World of Interiors and House & Garden in London, as well as Vogue while living in Australia. His first books specialized in photographing America, especially around South Carolina. The photography and research for this latest book took two and a half years, his time being split between New Orleans and Bath, England, where his two children live.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition edition (October 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609606999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609606995
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Both author and photographer of "Under Live Oaks" are English, and their knowledge of the South is distinctly secondhand and second-rate. Seebohm even acknowledges needing a crash course in Southern architecture from a friend! Instead of genuine knowledge and insight, we are offered a gauzy gothic cocktail of Hollywood cliches. (Mix one shot of "Gone With the Wind" with a dash of "Suddenly Last Summer" and a gallon of "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte.") For a beautiful and intelligent book on Southern architecture, try "Architecture of the Old South" by Mills Lane. For photos that shed some light on Southern myths and realities, try "William Eggleston's Guide."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Meyers on September 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I question the authors intentions in writing this book. It appears to be a personal scrapbook of travels that have little relevance to the general reader. It is as if the photographer took a lot of pictures and then needed a framework through which to get them published.

Initially, the title is misleading. The fourteen homes described in the book are neither the "last" homes in the South and arguably not the "greatest".

The brush the authors used to create this book was so broad that there did not seem to be any continuity. A couple of homes from each of the southern states is not thorough enough coverage to leave any lasting impression. It also did not seem to be a functional guide to the traveller (my purpose in making the purchase) as the venue was so broad.

Admittedly, it is difficult to get good photos of interior rooms and some exterior angles of homes. The photo collection in this book, however, did not seem to make a studied attempt at addressing the architecture of the homes and was diluted with folksy shots of knick knacks, dolls, etc.- who cares?

The text was also shallow. A small amount was written about the geography, environs, and the structure of the homes. Then each chapter became a mini history of the owners, most of whom have little interest to the general population. I learned nothing of architecture and design and cared little for the people mentioned. As a result, this book is too thin in content to be important from an architectural standpoint, a cultural standpoint, a biographical standpoint, or a design standpoint.

Why then did I give it three stars? I did learn that the grand architectural era of the deep south spanned a very short historical period (approximately fifty years).
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kay McDonald on August 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you like old houses of the South this book has some wonderful pictures. Some interesting photos of the interior rooms with a little bit of personal collections of the families. A great coffe table book. Not deep reading.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book and gave it aa 5 star rating, because it is such a great coffee table book, and it takes me back to what it must have been like before the civil war. Under Live Oaks is a beautifully illustrated book, one you will treasure for years to come. give as a gift for a history buff!
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