Articles of Interest
If you have something you think we should read, send it in!
- Tifany Glass and Other Tales from the Crypt
- What One Really Old House Tells Us About Real Estate as an Investment
- Domestic Life in 1897, as Revealed by the Sears & Roebuck Catalogue
- The End of the McMansion
- artricles by Witold Rybczynski, an architect who writes outstanding books and articles about building, the history of housing, and other interesting topics
Books: general interest
- Jackson, Kenneth. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States.NY: Oxford, 1985.
An eye-opening history of how the suburbs (made possible by cheap cars and good highways) changed the American way of life.
- Owen, David. The Walls Around Us: A Thinking Person’s Guide to How a House Works. NY: Vintage, 1991.
A must-read for anyone thinking of buying or rehabbing an old house.
- Rybczynski, Witold. Home: A Short History of an Idea.NY: Penguin, 1986.
An entertaining survey of habitation.
- Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities NY: Vintage, 1961.
A pioneer preservationist, Jacobs fought against "urban renewal, " which devastated established neighborhoods and historic properties from 1950s-70s. She wrote: "The simple needs of automobiles are more easily understood and satisfied than the complex needs of cities, and a growing number of planners and designers have come to believe that if they can only solve the problems of traffic, they will thereby have solved the major problem of cities." Link to Jane Jacob's official site.
- Labine, Clem. The Original Old-House Journal Compendium.Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1983.
A great resource—and a must-have--for the old house rehabber.
- McAlister, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York. Knopf, 1992.
This is a helpful identification guide to architectural styles, keyed to the American landscape and houses of all kinds.
Note: There are lots of really good how-to books out there. I’ve used a combination of new and old ones. The old ones are useful because they deal with old stuff—like knob and tube wiring and older masonry, etc. Search flea markets and yard sales for these. I’ve found the Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual very helpful, with its clear diagrams and easy-to-follow directions.The Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Home Repair is similar.
On Domestic Culture:
- I love books like these. They make us realize how much we take for granted and how bizarre it is that we think our way of life is sensible or "natural."
- Making the American Home: Middle-Class Women & Domestic Material Culture, 1840-1940. Edited Marilyn Motz and pat Browne, Bowling Green State U. Popular Press, 1988
- Hoy, Suellen. Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Cleanliness. Oxford U, 1995.
- Strasser, Susan. Never Done: A History of American Housework. NY: Pantheon, 1982
- Beecher, Catherine. A Treatise on Domestic Economy: for the use of young ladies at home and at school (1841) .
Source Book Press, 1970.
Take a look at the customs and expectations that shaped home life in the nineteenth century. (Yes, written by Harriet's sister.)