Town House: Architecture and Material Life in the Early American City, 1780-1830 / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $24.46
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 57%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (14) from $24.46   
  • New (5) from $30.95   
  • Used (9) from $24.46   


In this abundantly illustrated volume, Bernard Herman provides a history of urban dwellings and the people who built and lived in them in early America. In the eighteenth century, cities were constant objects of idealization, often viewed as the outward manifestations of an organized, civil society. As the physical objects that composed the largest portion of urban settings, town houses contained and signified different aspects of city life, argues Herman.

Taking a material culture approach, Herman examines urban domestic buildings from Charleston, South Carolina, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as those in English cities and towns, to better understand why people built the houses they did and how their homes informed everyday city life. Working with buildings and documentary sources as diverse as court cases and recipes, Herman interprets town houses as lived experience. Chapters consider an array of domestic spaces, including the merchant family's house, the servant's quarter, and the widow's dower. Herman demonstrates that city houses served as sites of power as well as complex and often conflicted artifacts mapping the everyday negotiations of social identity and the display of sociability.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Herman's work, as it captures and restores to modern readers the ambiguity and lyricism of an earlier built environment, continues to show us how valuable such studies are, and makes that scholarship especially accessible, exciting, and inviting."
Journal of the Early Republic

"[A] wide-ranging and amply illustrated work. . . . The book abounds in insights."
American Historical Review

"Town House is the first study to bring the methods of the new vernacular architectural history to the American city. Bernard Herman ranges far beyond architecture to people these houses, fill them with goods, set them next to their neighbors on the street, and link them to transatlantic predecessors and contemporaries. He shows us not only how these buildings were used, but what they meant to their residents. Town House is a tour de force of architectural and urban history. (Dell Upton, University of Virginia)"

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Bernard L. Herman is Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Art History at the University of Delaware. He is author of three previous books, including Architecture and Rural Life in Central Delaware, 1700-1900; The Stolen House; and, with Gabrielle M. Lanier, Everyday Architecture of the Mid-Atlantic: Looking at Buildings and Landscapes.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Urban settings : houses and housing in the early American City 1
2 The merchant family's house 33
3 The Burgher's dilemma 77
4 The servants' quarter 119
5 The widow's dower 155
6 The shipwright's lodgings 193
7 A traveler's portmanteau 231
8 A poetical city 261
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)