Architecture in the United States, 1800-1850

Maynard, W. Barksdale
Date published: 
January 2003

This groundbreaking book traces the development of American architecture from the age of Jefferson to the antebellum era, providing the first survey of this important period to appear in a generation. Maynard overturns the long accepted notions that the chief theme of early nineteenth-century American architecture was a patriotic desire to escape from European influence and that competing styles chiefly reflected the American struggle for cultural uniqueness. Instead, deep and consistent aesthetic ties, especially with England, shaped American architecture and house designs. Maynard shows that the Greek Revival in particular was an international phenomenon, with American achievements inspired by British example and with taste taking precedence over patriotism.

Emphasising the history of ideas, the book addresses such major themes as the role of the Picturesque, the spread of the rural residence, and the complex uses and meanings of porches. The author draws on wide-ranging primary sources, including English and American “villa books” and contemporary travel narratives. Generously illustrated, the volume reproduces rare historic prints and daguerreotypes of important buildings that in nearly all cases have been demolished or altered.