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Identifying American Architecture: A Pictorial Guide to Styles and Terms, 1600-1945 (American Association for State and Local History) 2nd Edition

3.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0761991434
ISBN-10: 0761991433
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Blumenson has called out stylistic details and architectural terms in the book's 214 chronological photographs. This guide will help you identify (and write about) not only homes, but also banks, churches and other buildings that may have puncuated your ancestors' town. (Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Family Tree Magazine, October 2003)

An extremely 'user friendly' identification tool, Identifying American Architecture is highly recommended for both students of American architecture and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in identifying architectural classifications of buildings they encounter on trips and excursions throughout the country or in their own neighborhoods. (Wisconsin Bookwatch)

About the Author

Sir Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-83) was founding editor of The Pelican History of Art and of The Buildings of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Bridget Cherry became Pevsner's research assistant in 1968, was series editor from 1971 to 2002, and is coauthor of "London 2: South," "London 3: North West," and "London 4: North," Charles O'Brien has been an editor of the "Pevsner Architectural Guides" since 2002.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Association for State and Local History
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Altamira Press; 2nd edition (October 6, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761991433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761991434
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,438,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marco Antonio Abarca VINE VOICE on September 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have been collecting field guides to American domestic archiecture for many years and beyond a doubt this is the very worst guide that I have come across. This guide has many strikes against it.

First, it is too short to give the reader any real understanding of the different styles of American domestic architecture. Many styles are ignored and the styles that are covered are done so superficially. As an example, the section on the International Style of architecture only has two washed out black and white photographs. The few details that are explained are done so in the most superficial manner.

Second, the quality of the printing is very poor. The quality of the paper and binding makes the book look like it was produced int he 1970's. Worst of all, the photographs used to show the different styles are washed out. A revolution in publishing has happened in the past twenty years and this publisher has missed out in the opportunity to produce a modern looking guide.

Finally, there are some wonderful field guides in current production. Don't waste your money on this guide. Check out the guides produced by Lester Walker and Virginia McAlester. Those are the types of guides that can inspire the reader to learn more about history and American houses. Avoid this guide!
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Format: Paperback
Enhanced with 214 photographs, John Blumenson's Identifying American Architecture: A Pictorial Guide To Styles And Terms 1600-1945 enables the reader to associate real buildings with architectural styles, elements, and orders. Every photograph is keyed to an explanatory text pointing out characteristic features of each building's style. An extremely "user friendly" identification tool, Identifying American Architecture is highly recommended for both students of American architecture and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in identifying architectural classifications of buildings they encounter on trips and excursions throughout the country or in his own neighborhood.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, it's not the worst field guide I ever saw but as a previous reviewer said, it has some serious flaws. Most notably, I struggled to focus on the wee tiny numbers that identify the architectural characteristics.

Man, those are some small numbers. And sometimes they get so clustered together, you're not sure which number goes with which architectural feature.

The long, thin layout of the graphics works against this book, too. The pictures of houses just don't fit well in this format.

And (sadly), I agree that some of the photos are a little washed out. With all that said, I do believe you can learn something from every book and this book does contain a wealth of information.

Rose

author, The Houses That Sears Built

and co-author, California's Kit Homes
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Format: Paperback
While other "field guides" to American architecture provide more details or bigger/better photos than this one, a key part of what makes 'Identifying American Architecture' so good is what it DOESN'T tell you. That is, it focuses on naming basic (and often not-so-basic) architectural elements in a broad range of styles for you, without the encyclopedic details of each style's history and genealogy, which can be researched elsewhere.

This pinpointed, in-the-moment approach is VERY helpful when you're walking around an area with a rich mix of architectural styles, as in Boston, Chicago, New York, Nashville, San Francisco, and other major cities established 150-300 years ago. In Boston, for example, you can easily find yourself looking at a 1790 Federal-style townhouse one minute, a Richardsonian church from the 1870s the next, and a Second Empire government building (circa 1890) a minute after that. With this easy-to-carry guide in hand, you can quickly identify the differences, point them out to friends, make notes, and move on.

Likewise, this book is a good, easy access reference to have on hand when reading any book -- fiction or non-fiction -- featuring a lot of architectural description. Again, it doesn't have deep details, but there's enough to help you picture and/or understand scenes better. Students and writers also find it helpful in knowing their pilasters from their parapets when writing descriptions of historic buildings and neighborhoods.

In addition to offering at least 4 examples of each architectural style, with the various elements all enumerated clearly, this book also features an alphabetical index of primary architectural elements that make up classic buildings.
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Some wonderful information in the book. As a lover of American architecture, I enjoyed so many historical tidbits. Unfortunately, the book had some less than clear photos and illustrations. In spite of the mediocre visuals, I felt the information certainly made up for this. The author kindly gave locations of the featured structures, should one be so inclined to visit in person.
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I've been looking for a book like this for years. While it's not in color, and some of the pictures in the book are a little grainy, the information is exactly what I wanted. The book is also a good size for keeping in the glove compartment of the car.
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