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The essays in this collection represent of the type of researchthat has reshaped our understanding of early American architecture over the pastthirty years. Carl R. Lounsbury, three-time winner of the prestigious Abbott LowellCummings Award offered by the Vernacular Architecture Forum, traces the manner inwhich domestic, ecclesiastical, and public architecture illuminate the dynamics andaspirations of early American society. Architectural forms carried social meaningsand gave physical shape to the way people perceived their place in the world andinteracted with others during the colonial and early national periods. Lounsburyexamines the emergence of regional building traditions and cultural landscapes asthey evolved in response to the environment, social and economic conditions, technological capabilities, craft skills, and labor organization. In wide-rangingessays and in more detailed case studies, Lounsbury looks at a number of recurringissues, including English precedents for particular building types, the elusivemeaning of regionalism as an organizational principle, the influence of Protestanttheology on church design, and the precariousness of interpreting architecturalhistory based solely on standing structures.
While the Chesapeake isthe principal focus of much of this book, Lounsbury also considers buildingpractices in Savannah, Charleston and the low country, the Middle Atlantic colonies, and New England. Chronologically, the essays span the early seventeenth century --the period of first European settlement of the East Coast -- through the earlynineteenth century when emerging national patterns transformed the design andornamentation of American churches and meetinghouses. The concluding essays movefrom architectural history to historic preservation and address the effects oftwentieth-century design aesthetics on the restoration of ColonialWilliamsburg.
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