Architecture of the Old South

Architecture of the Old South


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Architecture of the Old South by Mills Lane, Van Jones Martin

From early colonial times to the onset of the Civil War, the finest examples of antebellum architecture in the South are revealed in glorious photographs and a scholarly text.

This handsome volume is the culmination of a distinguished series that has explored the historic buildings of the Old South. The fruit of fifteen years of travel and research, Architecture of the Old South surveys the most beautiful and historic buildings of the region and illustrates them with color photographs, old prints and drawings. The authoritative, and sometimes amusing text documents a surprising conclusion-that most of the great buildings of the Old South were created by Yankee builders and that the South participated more fully in the mainstream of American life before the Civil War than has been fully appreciated.

Indeed, the illustrations and text of Architecture of the Old South, though presenting famous shrines, explore the unexpected by-ways of Southern architecture and history. The great buildings of great cities-Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans-and plantations and country houses of the gentry are well represented. But here also can be found a wealth of the unfamiliar-frontier cabins, eccentric houses built by gentlemen amateurs, grand designs of professional designers from England and Europe.

When the "Architecture of the Old South" series was begun in 1981, the New York Times praised the first of these volumes as "dignified and handsome, with engaging texts that strike a neat balance between architectural scholarship and social history."

Other Details: 250 illustrations, 225 in full color 324 pages 9 7/8 x 9 7/8" Published 1993

William Jay and Hamilton Fulton in Georgia. After the early period, the influence of New England brought to Southern architecture a variety and vitality it would otherwise have lacked-in Virginia, Alexander Parris and Otis Manson from Maine; in South Carolina, the mysterious George Champlin; in Georgia, Isaac Robbins from Maine, Isaiah Davenport from Rhode Island, and Daniel Pratt from New Hampshire; in Mississippi, Levi Weeks from Massachusetts and Jacob Larmour and Joseph Willis from New Jersey. The Greek Revival, in particular, was brought to the South in the 1830s by architects from Philadelphia and New York-A. J. Davis in Virginia and North Carolina; William Strickland in Tennessee; James Dakin in Louisiana; Calvin Pollard, Thomas U. Walter, and Thomas Stewart in Virginia; Stephen Decatur Button in Alabama; John Norris in Georgia.

Despite the myth of the South's isolation, as well as the reality that most of the South remained a frontier till after the Civil War, talents from France, Germany, Ireland, and England made important contributions--in Maryland, Maximilian Godefroy from France; in Georgia, Adrien Boucher from France; in Louisiana, Jacques N. B. dePouilly and innumerable French designers; in Tennessee, Adolphus Heiman from Prussia; in Kentucky, Thomas Lewinski from England; in South Carolina, Charles Reichardt from Prussia; in Georgia, Charles Cluskey from Ireland; in Louisiana, James Gallier, Sr., and Henry Howard from Ireland. The South produced a few amateur architects--Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Nicholas Rogers of Baltimore, Gabriel Manigault of Charleston, and Thomas Spalding of Georgia--but few professional native-born architects--Robert Mills of South Carolina, Robert Cary Long, Jr., of Baltimore, Gideon Shryock of Kentucky, John Stirewalt from North Carolina, E. B. White and Edward Jones of Charleston.

In 1785 Thomas Jefferson, reflecting on the differences that were already growing apparent between the regions, described Northerners as "cool, sober and industrious" and Southerners as "fiery, voluptuary and indolent." Yes, indeed, the South became a land of white columns, generous hospitality, courtly manners, long-lasting British culture, duelling, and mint juleps. But the South was also a region of regions--the aristocrats of the tidewater, the new-rich planters of the piedmont, the small farmers of the trans-Appalachian "West," and the Frenchmen and frontiersmen of the tropical Gulf coast. Tobacco was raised in Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky, rice in coastal Georgia and the Carolinas, cotton across the piedmont, sugar cane in Louisiana. There were few slaveholders in northeastern Alabama, western North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, east Tennessee, or northern Georgia, but great plantations with vast numbers of slaves were typical of the coast and central Georgia and South Carolina, central Mississippi and Alabama, and along the banks of the Mississippi River.

In these books, I have tried to explore Southern architecture beyond the cliches. To the extent that buildings reflect the way people really live, architecture can be, like letters, journals, newspapers, and other documents, a record of historical truth. The Architecture of the Old South books document how the great buildings of the Old South were created by outsiders and newcomers, especially New Englanders, whose contribution to Southern society and culture has been long underestimated. The South's historic buildings show how the South participated far more fully in the mainstream of American life before the Civil War than has been generally appreciated. During the colonial and Revolutionary periods, political divisions were between the coast and the interior, not between North and South. During the Revolutionary and Confederation periods, Southerners were still ardent nationalists. As late as 1840 Northerners and Southerners were far more alike than they were different. In the final years before the Civil War, the South continued to develop and change with outside influences, though by this period it was changing less fast than other regions. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Southern apologists, like the Northern Abolitionists before the war, exaggerated the South's "Gone-with-the-Wind" isolation and denied an earlier invasion of Yankee talent that had created the architecture of the Old South.

I am a lucky student to have had the opportunity to spend some fifteen years exploring the South in search of its historic buildings, finding so much hospitality, generosity, and patience along the way. I am a fortunate author to have received editorial assistance from talented experts in particular states--Gene Waddell in South Carolina, Marshall Bullock in North Carolina, Calder Loth in Virginia, Mary Warren Miller and Ronald W. Miller in Mississippi, Robert Gamble in Alabama, Jonathan Fricker and Ann W. Masson in Louisiana, Michael F. Trostel in Maryland, William B. Scott, Jr., in Kentucky, and James A. Hoobler in Tennessee. My greatest debt is to Van Jones Martin, whose photographic contributions to all nine volumes in this series have been matched by his witty companionship for some 100,000 miles of travel and tolerant calm in the face of occasional scrapes along the way.

In an age of homogenized culture created by the cults of bigness, technology, speed, and greed, it's a small triumph for one person, working from the basement of an old house facing one of the verdant nineteenth-century squares of Savannah, Georgia, to have, more or less singlehandedly, plodded and persevered for some fifteen years to document, record, and, in a sense, preserve an important aspect of the South's disappearing culture. A lifetime could have been spent studying the architecture of each state alone. The "Architecture of the Old South" series was perhaps too ambitious for one individual, but critics are reminded that these books are intended as a framework for further study. Though this volume does not have footnotes, a bibliography lists all books, articles, other published materials, and academic papers used by the author; all manuscript and newspaper sources are cited by footnotes in each of the state-by-state volumes in the series.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558590441
Publisher: Abbeville Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/1993
Series: Architecture of the Old South Series
Pages: 335
Product dimensions: 10.00(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.50(d)

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