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Ranch House
     

Ranch House

4.3 3
by Alan Hess, Noah Sheldon (Photographer), Noah Sheldon
 

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A uniquely American invention, the twentieth-century Ranch House first became an integral part of the building vocabulary of the American housing market after World War II, when America's demand for single-family housing was reaching overwhelmingly high levels. Though by the 1960s popular taste had moved on to embrace other types and styles of house, by the time

Overview

A uniquely American invention, the twentieth-century Ranch House first became an integral part of the building vocabulary of the American housing market after World War II, when America's demand for single-family housing was reaching overwhelmingly high levels. Though by the 1960s popular taste had moved on to embrace other types and styles of house, by the time it did, American architects, builders, and developers had so exhaustively and effectively promoted the Ranch House that it had come to be one of the most dominant architectural forms of the suburband landscape of the nation. From Los Angeles to Houston to Fort Lauderdale, there are entire communities where Ranch is the only architecture. Today, there is a resurgence of internest in the Ranch House, and a new generation of homebuyers is discovering its allure. For them and for the many thousands of homeowners who've long known of the Ranch's charm and architectural integrity comes this ultimate look at the Ranch House.

Alan Hess, one of the country's foremost authorities on the twentieth-century American home, carefully traces the nearly 75-year evolution of the Ranch House before leading a tour of more than 25 iconic Ranch House dwellings, each of which demonstrates how the Ranch House continues to cater to the needs of the modern family.

Frequently characterized by an L- or U-shape floor plan positioned around an outdoor patio area, the twentieth century Ranch House is a descendant of the huumble, utilitarian working-ranch house of nineteenth-century America. The latter's characteristic horizontal form, unpainted board-and-batten facade, broad eaves, and exposed rafter ends, among other features, were appropriated in the early part of the twentieth century by pioneering architects who found in the indigenous architecture of rural America the inspiration for a new kind of house for a changed nation, a nation that was, incidentally, fast becoming seduced by mass media-promoted notions of the American West and its cowboy culture.

The alluring rustic architectural features of the nineteenth-century working-ranch house were merged with a ten emerging modern open-plan spatial configuration and the very latest in building technologies and modern conveniences for the home. The Ranch House caught on fast as a concept and would itself become a powerful symbol of the Western myth through its eventual endorsement by popular figures of the West such as Ronald Reagan. The Ranch House was warm and inviting, a symbol of relaxed living. For thousands of Americans, it worked beautifully. Today, the author argues, it still does.

The Ranch House architecture presented here includes buildings that one would expect to find in a serious study such as this, iconic houses in the Ranch idiom (or in a regional idiom that deeply influenced Ranch or borrowed from it) by Californians Cliff May, William Wurster, Lutah Maria Riggs, and Harwell Harris, and by Texans O'Neil Ford, David R. Williams, and Lucian Hood, Jr. Also present is a range of houses by highly influential builder-developers such as John F. Long, David Bohannon, Kaiser Community Homes, and American Community Builders. With revealing period photographs and nearly 200 photographs taken specially for this book, The Ranch House is a riveting visual journey through the past century of home-building in America, a book that is sure to be received as the definitive study of its subject.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Two distinctly American home styles are chronicled in these books. Previously, Hess (Rancho Deluxe) depicted 19th-century ranch houses and elegant ranch house mansions of the early 20th-century that inspired the architectural style described in this book. In his new book period photographs detail the evolution of the style that emerged from Prairie style architecture, traditional haciendas of the Southwest, and early 20th-century bungalows that eventually became popular in tract home developments epitomizing post-World War II lifestyles. Most of the book contains current color photographs and descriptions of a number of architect-designed homes of the period with captions that point out the ranch house features of each-from Robert Wagner's Cliff May-designed home with stables to the modern style of a contemporary ranch house. Many of these homes are being demolished to be replaced by McMansions; hence this book is a valuable appreciation of the style. Wilson (Univ. of Virginia) gives a detailed account of the development of Colonial Revival domestic architecture from the 18th to the 21st century, discussing its popularity in a historical context. He examines some specific buildings, such as Mount Vernon in Virginia and Malabar Farm in Ohio, using plans, color, and occasionally period photographs. Although exhaustively reviewing the style, Wilson never provides a succinct, clear definition of it; a timeline would have been helpful, too. Wilson's book is recommended for large and academic collections; Hess's book is highly recommended for suburban public, academic, and professional collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810943469
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/2004
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
9.75(w) x 12.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Alan Hess is architecture critic for the San Jose Mercury News. His books include Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture, Rancho Deluxe, The Architecture of John Lautner, and Palm Springs Weekend.
 
Noah Sheldon is an architectural photographer based in New York City whose work has been featured in numerous national periodicals.

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The Ranch House 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
volta09 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for inspiration and to learn more about the ranch house style for purposes of remodeling and decorating my own ranch style home. The book provides a complete history of the ranch style home and architects who designed them, along with beautiful photographs of the many examples covered in the text. I was amazed to learn how many different styles and looks a ranch house can have. It has some nice surprises too, including examples of a few celebrity ranch homes. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the ranch house history and styles, especially if you are looking for inspiration to remodel or decorate a ranch house. It is the best source I've found on the subject.