The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Homes through American History

by Thomas W. Paradis


Discover the rich history of American houses and apartments, from hand-built shelters of the settlers of the early colonies to innovative urban lofts and conspicuous McMansions of today.

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March 2008


Pages 1840
Volumes 4
Size 7x10
Topics American History/Culture
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Beginning with the homes of the first European settlers to the North American colonies, and concluding with the latest trends in construction and design of houses and apartments in the United States, Homes through American History is a four-volume set intended for a general audience. From tenements to McMansions, from wattle-and-daub construction in early New England to sustainable materials for green housing, these books provide a rich historical tour through housing in the United States. Divided into 10 historical periods, the series explores a variety of home types and issues within a social, historical, and political context. For use in history, social studies, and literature classes, Homes through American History identifies ; A brief historical overview of the era, in order provide context to the discussion of homes and dwellings. ; Styles of domestic architecture around the country. ; Building material and manufacturing. ; Home layout and design. ; Furniture and decoration. ; Landscaping and outbuildings.


  • The four volumes in the set are each divided into two or three eras. Highlights of each volume include the following.
  • Volume One, 1492-1820, includes:
  • Homes in the Colonial Era, 1492-1781
  • Information about regional home-building material and techniques such as wattle and daub in the Northeast; brick and mortar in Virginia
  • wood for Massachusetts; adobe for the Southwest; and tabby in the Southeast
  • The gradual move to a new colonial style, including the saltbox style in the Northeast; Dutch colonial in the Middle colonies; and eventually Georgian and classical revival styles in the South and throughout the colonies
  • The importance of fences to establish property
  • Homes in the Federal Era, 1782-1820 by Melissa Duffes
  • Use of pattern books in design and construction
  • Innovations in building materials and services
  • Franklin stoves, Rumford ranges for heat
  • Plumbing—pumps and privies
  • Purpose-built rooms for designated events such as dining and the move of the bed out of the parlor into a bedroom
  • The importance of working gardens for houses in town
  • Volume Two, 1821-1900, includes:
  • Homes in the Revival Era, 1821-1860 by Nancy B. Mingus
  • Settlement patterns
  • The popularity of octagon houses
  • Cellars, attics, carriage houses, summer kitchens, and porches
  • Homes in the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1861-1880 by Thomas W. Paradis
  • Westward expansion and homestead acts
  • Styles including Italianate, Italian Villa, Stick Style, Eastlake
  • Second Empire
  • Tenements in New York, Sanitary Housing, and the beginning of company towns, such as Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Homes in the Gilded Era, 1881-1900 by Elizabeth B. Greene
  • Victorian home designs
  • Lavish ornamentation
  • Tenement living
  • Spread of indoor plumbing
  • Volume Three, 1901-1945, includes:
  • Homes in the Early Modern Era, 1901-1920 by Leslie Cormier
  • The use of electric lights
  • Planned parks and housing around them
  • Model town planning and garden apartments
  • Homes in the Depression and World War II Era, 1921-1945, by Neal Hitch
  • The massive impact on houses in the 1920s and 1930s by the automobile, improvements in refrigeration, heating technology, the telephone, and the radio
  • The movement toward small, owner-occupied, single-family housing
  • Volume Four, 1946-Present, includes:
  • Homes in the Suburban Era, 1946-1970 by Jane C. Busch
  • Opposition between traditional styles and modern design
  • the popularity of the ranch house and split level home
  • Interstate highways, shopping centers, and suburbs
  • Attempts and failures at urban renewal
  • Retirement communities
  • Homes in the Neoeclectic Era, 1971-1985 by Mark E. Braun
  • The rise of consumerism, yuppies, and homelessness
  • Design of new towns
  • Do-it-yourself remodeling and design
  • The beginnings of energy consciousness
  • Homes in the New Era, 1986-Present by Brenda Kayzar
  • New trends that draw from the past (small towns, compact design, mixed uses), now politically encompassed under the umbrella
  • ideal of Smart Growth
  • Support for new urbanist ideals of neo-traditional design, transit-oriented development, and infill projects


  • Special sidebars highlight unusual homes or features in homes that tell us about the people who lived in them; timelines for each period detail important events in domestic architecture as well as in history; resource guides provide information on important books, articles, Web sites, and videos for further study. The set also includes glossaries and comprehensive index.
Table of Contents

Volume I 1492-1820ForewordPart One: Homes in the Colonial Era, 1492-1780 by Melissa Wells Duffes, William Burns, and Olivia GrafIntroductory Note, 1492-1780Timeline, 1492-1780Settling in the New Land, 1492-1780Styles of Domestic Architecture around the Colonies, 1492-1780Building Materials and Manufacturing, 1492-1780Home Layout and Design, 1492-1780Furniture and Decoration, 1492-1780Landscaping and Outbuildings, 1492-1780Glossary, 1492-1780Resource Guide, 1492-1780Part Two: Homes in the Federal Era, 1781-1820 by Melissa Wells DuffesIntroductory NoteTimeline, 1781-1820The End of the Eighteenth Century: How Politics, Philosophy, and Culture Affected Architecture, 1781-1820Styles of Domestic Architecture Around the Country, 1781-1820Building Materials and Manufacturing, 1781-1820Home Layout and Design, 1781-1820Furniture and Decoration, 1781-1820Landscape and Outbuildings, 1781-1820Glossary, 1781-1820Resource Guide, 1781-1820IndexVolume II 1821-1900ForewordPart One: Homes in the Revival Era, 1821-1860 by Nancy B. MingusIntroductory NoteTimeline, 1821-1860Changes in American Life, 1821-1860Styles of Domestic Architecture Around the Country, 1821-1860Building Materials and Manufacturing, 1821-1860Home Layout and Design, 1821-1860Furniture and Decoration, 1821-1860Landscaping and Outbuildings, 1821-1860Glossary, 1821-1860Resource Guide, 1821-1860Part Two: Homes in the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1861-1880by Thomas W. ParadisIntroductory NoteTimeline, 1861-1880Political, Social, Geographic, Cultural and Technological Issues in 1861-1880Styles of Domestic Architecture around the Country, 1861-1880Building Materials and Manufacturing, 1861-1880Home Layout and Design, 1861-1880Furniture and Decoration, 1861-1880Landscaping and Outbuildings, 1861-1880Glossary, 1861-1880Resource Guide, 1861-1880Part Three: Homes in the Gilded Era, 1881-1900 by Elizabeth B. GreeneIntroductory NoteTimeline, 1881-1900Historical and Cultural Issues in the Gilded Age, 1881-1900Styles of Domestic Architecture around the Country, 1881-1900Building Material and Manufacturing, 1881-1900Home Layout and Design, 1881-1900Furniture and Decoration, 1881-1900Landscaping and Outbuildings, 1881-1900Glossary, 1881-1900Resource Guide, 1881-1900IndexVolume III: 1901-1945Part One: Homes in the Early Modern Era, 1901-1920 by Leslie Humm CormierIntroductory NoteAcknowledgmentsChronologyHistory of the Early Modern Era, 1901-1920Styles of Domestic Architecture around the Country, 1901-1920Building Materials and Manufacturing, 1901-1920Home Layout and Design, 1901-1920Furniture and Decoration, 1901-1920Landscaping and Outbuildings, 1901-1920Appendix: Excerpts from Gustav Stickleys The CraftsmanGlossaryResource GuidePart Two: Homes in the Depression and World War II Era, 1921-1945 by Neal V. HitchIntroductory NoteTimelineThe Transformation of Life in America, 1920-1945Styles of Domestic Architecture, 1921-1945Building Material And Manufacturing, 1921-1945Home Layout and Design, 1921-1945Furniture and Decoration, 1921-1945Landscaping and Outbuildings, 1921-1945Glossary, 1921-1945Resource Guide, 1921-1945IndexVolume IV: 1946-PresentPart One: Homes in the Suburban Era, 1946-1970 by Jane C. BuschIntroductory Note, 1946-1970Timeline, 1946-1970A Changing America, 1946-1970Styles of Domestic Architecture around the Country, 1946-1970Building Material and Manufacturing, 1946-1970Home Layout and Design, 1946-1970Furniture and Decoration, 1946-1970Landscaping and Outbuildings, 1946-1970Glossary, 1946-1970Resource Guide, 1946-1970Part Two : The Neo-Eclectic Housing Era, 1971-1985 by Mark Edward BraunIntroductory Note, 1971-1985Timeline, 1971-1985A History of Housing in America, 1971-1985Styles of Domestic Architecture around the Country, 1971-1985Building Materials and Manufacturing, 1971-1985Home Layout and Design, 1971-1985Furniture and Decoration, 1971-1985Landscaping and Outbuildings in America, 1971-1985Glossary, 1971-1985Resource Guide, 1971-1985Part Three: The New Era of Mixed Uses, 1986-Present by Brenda KayzarIntroductory NoteTimeline, 1986-PresentMixing It Up: The What, When and Why of an Emerging Trend, 1986-PresentFrom Preservation to Revitalization: Reappraising Older Neighborhoods, 1986-PresentCreating an Urban Lifestyle: Redeveloping Americas Downtowns, 1986-PresentNew, Smart, Green and Sustainable, Home Design from 1986-PresentGlossary, 1986-PresentResource Guide, 1986-PresentGeneral BibliographyIndex



"The set covers ten historical eras beginning with the Colonial era and ending with the period 1986 to present. Each era is introduced by a time line and short historical essay. Other essays synthesize research under topics such as building materials, house plans, interior design, and landscaping. Geographical differences in architecture are covered under Styles....Although essays end with references, readers also will find a glossary and resource guide for each era, an index for each volume, and a general bibliography in the last volume....Although this work gives some emphasis to vernacular architecture, not surprisingly the homes of the wealthy receive the most attention. The value of the set lies behind the pretty facade of the American home, in the contributors' exploration of the interaction of physical house and family life. Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates; general readers."Choice

"Written by experts in architectural history, these volumes not only provide an extensive overview of the progression from colonial cabins to present-day loft condominiums but also attempt to weave together the influences of geography, politics, and the national and global economy on the American home.This treatment of homes in unlike any other; a wonderful marriage between architectural history and the events and cultural developments that surround it. Highly recommended for all academic libraries with architecture or architectural history programs as well as public libraries where historical architecture is an area of emphasis."Booklist, Starred Review

"This set covers the American home from the colonial period to the present. Primarily concerned with the technical and stylistic aspects of American architecture, the social and economic influences are also discussed in detail making this collection even more valuable....The text is enriched by photographic reproductions of architectural aspects, furniture, interior decorations, and gardens and fences. Blue-print style floor plans are abundant. Though its focus is very specific, this could be a valuable reference for students doing American history research."Library Media Connection

"Numerous sidebars and illustrations, full color as well as black and white, highlight particular styles and fashions. The result is an informative guide that will serve public and academic library collections."Lawrence Looks at Books

"Black-and-white photographs and a handful of color plates enhance this thoughtful text, accessible to students, lay readers, and architecture historians alike. Enthusiastically recommended for college library collections due to its winning combination of extensive research, fine detail, and immersive narrative flow, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Homes Through American History is a must-read for anyone researching its subject, regardless of professional background."Midwest Book Review

"The writing style for this work is engaging. Information included is interesting and informative. This set could be used by general readers or scholarly researchers as a starting point for almost any inquiry concerning American architecture. This set is recommended for public, high school, academic, and architectural libraries."ARBA

". . . intended for a general audience and would be appropriate for a public or a university library. Readers interested in American history, architecture, urban planning, preservation or cultural studies would find the set very informative. . . . worth the price and is highly recommended."Reference Reviews


Booklist Editors' Choice 2008 — ALA

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