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Six Historic Homesteads

Six Historic Homesteads

Imogen B. Oakley. Illustrated by Thornton Oakley

200 pages | 8 x 10 | 12 illus.
Cloth 1962 | ISBN 9781512805192 | $79.95s | Outside the Americas £64.00
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512805208 | Buy from Combined Academic Publishers £64.00
An Anniversary Collection volume

Our colonial ancestors knew how to build houses as well as constitutions. It may even be that they built the one as enduringly as the other, for many of their mansions still stand, firm in joist and beam, having required in nearly two centuries no more serious repairs than shingles and paint. As the Constitution did not spring, a magic structure, fresh from the minds of its builders, but was a welding together of ideas as old as the Magna Carta, so the style of architecture known as Colonial was not a new creation but an adaptation of the Georgian to new material and new social conditions.

While there were no architects among our early ancestors, there were master builders who had served apprenticeship to the creators of the manor houses of Georgian England or of the small chateaux of France. Accustomed to work lavishly in stone and brick, these master builders adapted their methods to wood and unconsciously developed the style we know as Colonial. They kept the type pure whether they applied it to the mansion of the East Indian merchants of New England or to the hospitable home of the owners of the plantations of Virginia and the Carolinas, but in detail they yielded to climate and personality.

In this volume, Imogen Oakley meticulously examines the historical climate and the personalities that influenced the construction of six examples of colonial architecture—three in New England and one each in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland:

The Moffatt-Ladd House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The Quincy Mansion, Quincy, Massachusetts
The Webb House, Wethersfield, Connecticut
The Jumel House, New York, New York
Stenton, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mount Clare, Baltimore, Maryland

By relating the character of the homesteads as they stand today to the circumstances under which they were built and the personalities who built and occupied them, the author illuminates these monuments of our American past and demonstrates the relationship of their design to their function. In addition, she traces the history of these homes and shows how it happened that they still stand today, their interior decor completely preserved in every detail. With the aid of over twenty photographs, the reader is able to gain an intimate view of many of the magnificent rooms that grace these famous old mansions.

This volume represents a valuable and entertaining contribution to American colonial history and the study of an architectural style that has withstood the vicissitudes of time and taste. It will also prove of great interest to the antique enthusiast, who will be able to see many of the finest examples of colonial interior design in their original setting and thus gain a picture of a style of living that reflects the unique personality of a hardy and practical society and which compares favorably with so much of what has grown up around and threatened to displace it.

Imogen Oakley was Chairman, Civil Service Division, of the General Federation Women's Clubs.

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