The American Country House

Roger W. Moss, Author Henry Holt & Company $50 (243p) ISBN 978-0-8050-1248-4
Combining a knowledge of architecture and a keen sense of history, Moss ( Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects, 1700-1930 ) here offers a thoroughly interesting study of the American country house. We're not talking cabins in the woods; these are extravagant edifices. The author begins by discussing the aristocratic Georgian residences of colonial Southern planters and the Greek revival plantations of the antebellum era. As railroads made cities more accessible, an American look evolved, producing the ``picturesque styling'' of buildings along New York State's Hudson River and the villas of Schuylkill. Such homes were viewed as a way of displaying wealth, and so grew in grandeur from the graceful Monticello and Mount Vernon to the ostentations of William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon estate. Using sketches and photos of exteriors and interiors, as well as his gift for anecdote, Moss does well by these most stately mansions, though a glossary would have been welcome. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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