Research Finds: Notable American Architectural Texts

To students of American architectural history, the names Latrobe, Downing, and Asher should be familiar ones. Each of these gentlemen wrote texts that in some manner, had a major impact on architecture in the early United States.

The amount of material now available online, with free access, and even better – no copyright – is reaching a critical mass. As a historical researcher, the more resources readily available online, the better! Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon some of the major works of the three architects I previously mentioned.

The Journal of Latrobe by Benjamin Latrobe

The Journal of Latrobe. Being the notes and sketches of an architect, naturalist and traveler in the United States from 1796 to 1820 (1905) I recently had the pleasure of visiting Benjamin Latrobe’s Pope Villa in Lexington. It is rare this far west to find stunning early American architecture, but the Pope Villa is a beauty.

Pope Villa, Lexington, Kentucky (Benjamin Latrobe)
Pope Villa, Lexington, Kentucky (Benjamin Latrobe)

The Architect or Practical House Carpenter by Asher Benjamin

The architect: or, Practical house carpenter (1843) This is one of a handful of books written by Benjamin in the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th century. Known for his work in Federal and Greek Revival architecture, The Architect includes beautiful illustrations of the classical orders, including the one illustrated below.

Corinthian Capital in The Architect
Corinthian Capital in The Architect

Cottage Residences by Andrew Jackson Downing

Cottage residences: or, A series of designs for rural cottages and cottage villas, and their gardens and grounds (1847) Andrew Jackson Downing’s Cottage Residences book is one of the early house pattern books in the United States. If you are a fan of early American architecture, especially of the Gothic Revival, you should be very familiar with Downing’s work.

English, Rural Gothic Style Cottage
English, Rural Gothic Style Cottage

I love stumbling upon these resources and love sharing them with others. Do you have a favorite among these or know of others?

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