Arch, Men, Women & Money

Roger G. Kennedy, Author Random House (NY) $35 (526p) ISBN 978-0-394-53579-1
Written by the director of the Smithsonian's museum of American history, this is a wonderfully readable, leisurely, revelatory social history of preCivil War buildings, the dreams they embodied and the people who built and financed them. Kennedy shows that Southern planters, anxious over slave unrest, hesitated to adopt the open style of Palladio's villas for their security-conscious plantations. In Dutch Colonial brickwork of New Amsterdam he observes an upstart landed gentry's recycling of medieval merchant symbols. With respect for Jeffersonian democracy, he questions ""Ideological Classicism,'' whose exponents built Greek Revival temples overlooking exploitative, sooty mills. As he meanders from a Nashville wood-frame farmhouse, testament to westward migration, to William LeDuc's Gothic villas in Minnesota, to the ``brick cube'' houses of countless solid citizens, our architectural history is humanized and brought down to earth. Nearly 300 photographs and sketches recreate a forgotten landscape. First serial to American Heritage, Cosmopolitan and House & Garden. January 29
Reviewed on: 12/02/1985
Release date: 12/01/1985
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