The Architectural Psychology
of the Gilded Age

By GEOFFREY BLODGETT

This essay will explore some aspects of the architectural psychology that gripped American thinking in the Gilded Age. It will try to explain that mental set in ways which suggest a reciprocal interaction between the salient social concerns of that generation and the way its more affluent members housed their lives.

Critics from that day to ours have remarked upon the complexity of appearances that marked the new homes of middle- and upper-class Americans which went up in the post-Civil War years. It was as if fashionable housing and living arrangements passed through some strange aberration from what had gone before and what would follow. What had gone before, from the 1750s to the 1850s, was a sequence of borrowings from European architectural tradition, each borrowed style relatively distinct and identifiable as the American adaption of a particular European style. Today the phases of this grand march of Eurocentric aesthetic colonialism go by these names: Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and finally Mansard (or Second Empire), the style that arrived from Louis Napoleon's France just before the Civil War and was assimilated eagerly across the 1860s.

Then in the postwar years, the grand march seemed to lose its sequence. The architectural mood suddenly became more complex and variegated, as architects and builders and clients reached out in all directions for their models and inspirations. Like the post-Modern architects of our own day (which may turn out to be another age of aberration), they reached back to whatever stretch of architectural history they wanted for bits and pieces of this or that. They roamed beyond Europe for their ideas - especially into the Middle East and Orient. Responding to the country's centennial enthusiasms of 1876, they even made a conscious reach into America's own early past for architectural roots. And they experimented in what sometimes seems in retrospect a heavy-handed sort of way to meld the bits and pieces into odd packages, housing packages that often bulged and thrusted in unexpected ways.

The profusion of possibilities acquired its own collection of stylistic labels. Chief among these was "Queen Anne," a term introduced from England at the time of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. But the American version of Queen Anne, in its complex organic sprawl, was mainly symptomatic of the headstrong eclecticism of the age, which defied the precision of stylistic taxonomy. Architectural historian Walter Kidney caught the essence of this eclecticism when he called it "the architecture of choice."1

One of the bluntest expressions of this architecture of choice is found in a letter from William C. Whitney (the New York City traction magnate who served as Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Navy in the 1880s) to architect Ogden Codman, describing a new summer house he had in mind. Whitney didn't know much about architecture, but he knew what he wanted: "I do not want a colonial nor a rectangular house. The nicest houses are those built a piece now and another later without much relation to each other but each room stuck out with windows in two or three directions."2 Whitney was not only a blunt man, but a rich man, and he got what he wanted. The problem for the historian of the Gilded Age is to understand why Whitney wanted what he got, why that generation wanted what it got.

Perhaps no other generation of Americans left an architectural deposit more disconcerting to the taste of its successors. Even before the century was out, younger contemporaries like New York City's Edith Wharton and Boston's Robert Grant were registering their dismay at the look of the deposit. Wharton dismissed it as "a labyrinth of dubious eclecticism" and a symptom of "varnished barbarism." Grant bewailed the "multiplicity of individual experiments in which the salient features of every known type of architecture are blended fearlessly together," mixing "extinguisher towers, medieval walls, battlement effects, Queen Anne cottage lines, Old Colonial proportions, and Eastern imagery in the same design . . ."3

Wharton and Grant helped with other taste-makers of their vintage to set the terms of early 20th century regret over the aesthetic pretensions of the Gilded Age. Well into the new century, those pretensions were remembered collectively as the Reign of Terror in American architectural history. The memory endured to sanction American receptivity to the austere, purifying mood of International Style Modernism, which would govern architectural theory and practice from the 1930s through the early 1960s. Now that we live in a post-Modern, preservation-oriented era, with a much friendlier attitude toward 19th century taste, we are free to experience more empathy as we poke about in the Gilded Age deposit.

Still there is no denying that post-Civil War buildings bear a distinctive stamp peculiar to their time. They are heavier, more stolid and elaborate, both in the massing of forms and the texture of surfaces. To our eye there seems to be an overstuffed quality to many of them. The same thing was true, significantly, of the people who lived in them. This was the only era in American history when it was fashionable to be fat. Both men and women tried to look larger and more complex than they really were. They did it by wearing a beard or a bustle, or hanging a heavy watch-chain across a vest of figured silk, or draping great swags of brocaded fabric over their hips, or simply by putting on weight through a diligent program of over-eating.

In contrast to the anti-cholesterol, aerobic culture of the 1980s, fleshiness was a socially desirable characteristic. Special products were periodically marketed to help consumers reach the goal. Thus, in the spring of 1894 variations on the following advertisement ran in newspapers across the country: "Many people think we must eat fats and oils to become fleshy. This is a mistake. We should eat starchy foods." The ad goes on to praise the virtues of Paskola, a tasty, high-starch substance which not only promised to boost weight itself, but "will also create an appetite for other food." The ad concluded with this guarantee: "An increase in flesh will follow its use."4

The architecture of that generation, in its elaborate bulk, seemed to express a similar urge. The most resourceful synthesizer of the urge was Henry Hobson Richardson, the greatest American architect of his generation, and the first to have a style named for him: Richardsonian Romanesque. As has often been remarked, Richardson's buildings looked a bit like Richardson himself. He was a large man who grew larger as he entered middle age. His affection for fine food and drink was notorious. In June 1882 he recorded his prowess at the table in letters to his wife written on board ship crossing the Atlantic for a summer tour with two friends:

22 June 1882: "We have coffee at 6:30 A.M., breakfast from 8-10, lunch 1 to 2, dinner 5 to 7 & supper from 9 to 10 o'clock after which nothing can be served from the galley... I was up at or before 6 this morning & have done nothing that I can note but eat . . . It seems impossible to read & one only waits for a meal & when that is over longs for the next . . ."

26 June 1882: "I am perfectly well eating 5 meals a day & sleeping splendidly . . ."

27 June 1882: "My truss so far has worked well, and given me no trouble . . . The life is frightfully lazy all one does or can do is to eat & sleep. As McVickar says we will be built up by the time we reach Liverpool our combined weight (Mr. Brooks, McVickar & myself) being now 912 pounds."5

In 1882 Richardson, who was 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighed in at 330 pounds. A kidney ailment, which blocked normal digestion and forced him to work from his bed during his last and most productive years, proved fatal in 1886, ending his brilliant career at age 47.

Richardson's designs for domestic dwellings evolved from the Mansard adaptions of his earliest years toward an increasingly assured organic irregularity which enforced the mood of his favorite word, "Quiet." His houses, whether surfaced in shingle or stone, surrounded their occupants with a security which seemed at times almost geologic. One of his last creations, the Glessner house in Chicago, fronts its street with a shield of heavy granite that turns the home into an urban fortress of awesome solemnity. Although the contemporary critic Montgomery Schuyler thought it was "defensible" only in "a military sense," the Glessner house as recently restored remains a major monument to the mentality of its age.6

One senses something deeply conservative in this mentality, and in the motives of architects and clients alike who filled out their bodies and their buildings with such bulk. The post-Civil War age was an age in search of stability, cohesion, and social order, an age that was trying to center itself as broadly as possible. One cause of these conservative yearnings was the Civil War itself, and the long, deep memory of it. The war was a searing national experience in its origins, in the fighting of it, and in its consequences: Americans against Americans. It so dominated the mid-century landscape, and cast such a long shadow, that it is hard to imagine what the Gilded Age would have been like without it. The war ushered in a comprehensive change of mood and atmosphere by the time it was over, almost a 180- degree shift of national priorities.

As John Higham argued in a searching essay on antebellum America, "From Boundlessness to Consolidation," the pre-war American mood from the 1830s to the 1850s was buoyed by swaggering optimism and ideological passion, a sense of open, boundless possibility. That mood drove a swarm of reform movements, from housing reform to dietary and dress reform to temperance and prison reform to the climactic passion of the age, antislavery. Each reform cause had about it an air of hot perfectionist urgency, and the promise of swift, inevitable social progress. What arrived instead at the end of the 1850s was Civil War. Its outbreak and its awful carnage - all that killing - provoked an unavoidable postwar backlash. Militant reformist ideology (already receding, Higham argues, as the war approached) shrank drastically in the wake of the war. Now the goal was to stabilize, dampen down the passions, regain control, organize the terms of life more firmly.7

One way to do this was to impose the heavy mesh of systems on people's lives. Influential Gilded Age Americans spent a lot of time and energy creating and consolidating systems. This effort was pervasive, and the signals were everywhere. One can detect them in the transformed political life of postwar America. Politics were now much less ideological in goals and rhetoric, more oriented toward structure, discipline, and control. The signals were the emergence of a strong, stable two-party system, densely organized and tightly disciplined; the entrenchment of the spoils system for controlling the distribution of patronage from the White House down to the smallest village post office; the crystallization of the committee system and the seniority system in Congress and state legislatures and on down to local boards of aldermen. Throughout the system the aim was to impose hierarchy and deference on the whole process of passing laws and thus reduce the risk of radical reform. And at every level - national, state, and local - political amateurs gave way to full-time, lifetime professionals, men skilled in the management and manipulation of public business.

Meanwhile, the economic life of the country was increasingly governed by large business organizations called corporations, which (like people and buildings) grew bigger and fatter. They operated on a scale that began to sprawl across state and regional boundaries. Their managers constantly sought to reduce risks and uncertainty by buying out competitors and consolidating into ever larger conglomerates (in those days called trusts).

The intellectual life of the country was also more molecular, more densely and systematically organized. There was less room now for lonely universal critics like Henry Thoreau, or the prophet of octagon housing, Orson Fowler, who doubled as phrenologist and sex counsellor before the war. Now the trend was toward the trained professional specialist. Each profession - law, medicine, science, engineering, and architecture - proceeded to develop its own professional schools and professional associations and professional standards of practice. (Trained architects struggled more haltingly than other professionals to impose uniform standards on their practice.)8 These were the years when the modern American university system began to take shape, with its central core of undergraduates surrounded by a cluster of graduate departments producing Ph.D. specialists to teach the undergraduates. These were the years when the thick, heavy monthly magazines - Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Century, Scribner's - acquired a national middle-class reading audience. These magazines arrived in the mail to rest on parlor tables, 150 pages of double-column fine print per issue loaded with cultural cues from experts telling subscribers how to behave, what to want, what to expect, what to think about by gaslight after a heavy supper.

All these new arrangements in the structure of American life are what historian Robert Wiebe called the compulsive "search for order" that dominated the country's mood for a long generation after the Civil War.9 What sustained this conservative mood for so long into the postwar era was the constant need that people felt to impose control on a society they thought was changing faster than it should be. They had some good reasons to think so. These were decades when in fact American society was being transformed by the interlocking forces of urbanization, industrialization, and mass immigration from Europe. This was the generation that had to cope with these disruptive forces at their peak intensity.

All these phenomena had of course gotten under way long before the Civil War, and would roll on well into the 20th century. But if you could chart their psychological impact on a graph, the pitch of the line would bend sharply upward in each case in the 30 years after Appomattox. Their simultaneous maximum impact generated an historically abnormal amount of social stress and turmoil. The people who suffered the impact most directly and harshly were those who did the immigrating packed in steamships plowing across the Atlantic from Europe; those who were being urbanized in the crowded tenements of New York and Boston and other major cities; those whose lives and work habits were being industrialized in the sweatshops and on factory floors.

But the disruption was also felt by the host culture that received the newcomers - by older, native-born Americans, who were more established and more affluent, the sorts of people who in the nature of things were able to express their mood in the architecture they commissioned. They suffered much less harshly from the shock of change. But they were also troubled by the newness, and by the threats to their psychological security that they perceived in the newness. It is no wonder that in their architectural choices (as in their political, educational, and other cultural choices) they should place a value on stability, cohesion, rootedness, and permanence - precisely those virtues being threatened by the strange new urbanized environment sprawling around them.

These generalizations need a qualifying counterpoint. In most survey treatments of the Gilded Age, the counterpoint is the main point. It is this: not everyone was victimized by the transformations of the age. There were winners as well as losers. And the winners included some very big winners, especially corporate entrepreneurs who reaped huge, income-tax-free profits from their involvement in galloping economic growth. Nouveaux riches Americans of the Gilded Age had more money to spend on the decoration of their private lives than any generation before or since. The housing they commissioned - often located near the center-city, along Fifth Avenue in New York, Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, or Prairie Avenue in Chicago - was a bold-face, aggressive, and intimidating announcement about their wealth and power. Their mansions said: we are in charge, and we are here to stay. They were affirmations of intended control and permanence, built to last long beyond the lives of their original owners as the strongholds of a new urban aristocracy. No one knew that within 50 years or so, many of them would be demolished in the name of urban progress, and most of those that survived would be recycled into apartments, nursing homes, office space, or museums and tourist attractions.

They were casualties of a long process, accelerating across the Gilded Age, by which the American city turned itself inside out demographically. As the center-city became more congested and dirty, affluent city-dwellers evacuated their traditional downtown residential neighborhoods and migrated in growing numbers outward toward the city's rim - away from the factories and warehouses and railroad terminals, and threats of labor violence, and crowded immigrant ghettos near the core. The beginnings of this migration dated from before the Civil War, but gained momentum thereafter, and picked up decisively with the advent of electric rapid transit, which turned it into a broad middle-class phenomenon.10

It was out on the suburban rim that the primary new features of the ideal American home emerged to replicate themselves by the thousands. This ideal home incorporated a number of basic physical or spatial traits that set American middle-class domestic living apart from contemporary European housing arrangements, and from most earlier American urban arrangements. These traits are so commonplace among us that they seem timeless and ordinary. Yet a century ago, they were so distinctive and historically so new that they might be called 19th century architectural inventions - inventions that, when applied and multiplied endlessly, were as crucial to the quality of American domestic living as mass production would be to American industry, or mass suffrage was to American politics.11 The most important of them were four in number:

1. The achievement of the free-standing house, rising well apart from its neighbors on its separate rectangle of green real estate. Lawns flowed freely between houses across property lines, boundaries defined at most by shrubbery or picket fences. The house itself was most often made of wood, supported by a wooden skeletal frame called the balloon frame. The house was likely to be owned by its occupants. By 1890, almost 50 percent of all American homes (not just those in suburbs) were owned by the families that lived in them. The comparable figure for England in 1890 was around 10 percent.12

2. The porch, about which no definitive historical study has yet been written. But by most accounts, it entered American architectural history earliest along the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts in the 18th century. Perhaps in its origins it was not so much an American invention as a Caribbean import from the West Indies. It went by many elegant names: gallery, piazza, veranda. But, by the middle of the 19th century, the porch had been thoroughly domesticated and democratized. It had migrated in all directions to become a common feature of the American home. Its function was to serve the family as a temperate, intermediate leisure zone between indoors and outdoors, between neighborliness and privacy.13

3. The bathroom, a small room discreetly located near upstairs bedrooms, where its three standard features - the sink, the tub, and the toilet - were all within a step or two of one another. Many Americans endured the quiet trek to the backyard outhouse well into the 20th century, but the pride and convenience of indoor plumbing spread widely in Gilded Age America, while many English aristocrats were still taking baths in portable tubs set in front of fireplaces.14

4. Central heating. Like the other innovations, it was not invented all at once and available everywhere, but it was a technological improvement that spread more rapidly in the United States than anywhere else. It would ultimately transform American definitions of indoor space. With heating ducts carrying warmth from a basement furnace to all rooms of the house, there was no longer any need for fireplaces in each room, and no need to close off heated rooms from unheated rooms. Rooms could open up to one another, doorways could widen into broad archways, and interior space could flow unimpeded from central hallway through living rooms and dining rooms and up staircases and out onto enclosed side porches and bays, all in a broad continuum. This open flow pattern would not be fully realized until Frank Lloyd Wright pioneered a radical decompartmentalization of interior space in his suburban prairie houses of the early 20th century. But the new Queen Anne houses of the 1880s often ventured a more open look from room to room, responding cautiously to the possibilities of central heating.15

One is tempted to add a fifth technological breakthrough to this list of architectural inventions - the electrification of the home, and what has been called the mechanization of housework, as the machine began to replace the domestic servant in the performance of household chores. But while electricity came on quickly in the 1880's for purposes of home illumination, homeowners adapted to it very prudently, with gas lighting fixtures retained as a backup system against the quirks of erratic wiring and power failures.

Meanwhile electric household appliances - the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner, the electric iron, electric toaster, and electric stove - awaited widespread use a generation later. A model electric kitchen was exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, but it was not till the 1920's that its promise began to transform the meaning of housework.16

Machine technology also played a role of growing importance in determining what houses looked like, inside and out. By the 1870s, home construction had become a major urban industry. Standardized building parts were now available on the commercial market in a great profusion of multiple variations: wooden millwork (doors, window frames, staircases, cabinets, moldings, siding, shingles of every shape and texture), glazed brick, cut stone, ceramic tile, bevelled and tinted glass.17

Architects delighted in exploiting these industrial riches to help their clients celebrate the stylistic eclecticism of the postwar years. A famous example of the polychromatic effect achieved through color-coded building materials is the Mark Twain house at Nook Farm in suburban Hartford, Connecticut, completed in 1874. The architect was Edward Tuckerman Potter, but the client's proud sense of involvement in the design choices is captured in Mark Twain's doggerel poem about his new home:

These are the bricks of various hue
And shape and position, straight and askew
With the nooks and the angles and gables too
Which make up the house presented to view
The curious house that Mark built.18

Clients could dispense with reliance on architectural expertise if they were so inclined. The vast majority were so inclined. Using building guides and commercial catalogs, local builders (later called contractors) could pick and choose from the expanding inventory of design suggestions and construction materials to create customized houses for individual clients. Thus standardized production made possible an ever wider variety of highly personalized, idiosyncratic homes for those who could afford them. It became a matter of how much variety one could afford. The relative complexity of one's house became a visual index of one's worth (defined in terms of both income and community status). Suburban neighbors watched to see how many idiosyncrasies a newcomer could command to set himself apart.

Exterior complexity was matched by interior complexity. Indoors and out, every blank surface was a standing incentive to applied decoration. The architecture of choice seemed to inspire an aesthetic taste for a crowded, multi-textured, layered look in home furnishings and interior decor. Parlors and living rooms became small domestic museums for the artistic display of one's possessions - possessions gathered from as global a range as possible, to match the cosmopolitan reach of architectural eclecticism.19

Henry Adams satirized this aesthetic in his novel Democracy, when he brought his heroine Madeleine Lee to Washington in the 1870s to watch democracy at work. Adams describes her attack on her new dwelling space on Lafayette Square, "a life-and-death struggle to get the mastery over her surroundings":

In this awful contest the interior of the doomed house suffered as though a demon were in it; not a chair, not a mirror, not a carpet, was left untouched . . . The wealth of Syria and Persia was poured out upon the melancholy Wilton carpets; embroidered comets and woven gold from Japan and Teheran depended from and covered over every sad-stuff curtain; a strange medley of sketches, paintings, fans, embroideries, and porcelain was hung, nailed, pinned, or stuck against the wall; finally the domestic altar-piece, the mystical Corot landscape, was hoisted to its place over the parlor fire, and then all was over. The setting sun streamed softly in at the windows; and peace reined in that redeemed house and in the heart of its mistress.

'I think it will do now, Sybil,' said she, surveying the scene.
'It must,' replied Sybil. 'You haven't a plate or a fan or coloured scarf left . . .What is the use? Do you suppose any human being in Washington will like it? They will think you demented.'
'There is such a thing as self-respect,' replied her sister, calmly.20

With that reply - "There is such a thing as self-respect" - Henry Adams may have provided an oblique clue to what was going on psychologically in the interior decor of the Gilded Age. It suggests that what to the 20th century eye looks like an excess of heavy, pretentious clutter was for that age a determined expression not only of personal artistry but of individual identity and self-regard. Victorian clutter had deep personal meaning for those who could indulge in it. It gave ballast and order to their lives. It helped to ground them in their homes against the growing confusion and disorder and even danger that many of them - like Madeleine Lee - perceived in the larger postwar urban world swirling outside the home. It gave them a safe personal environment that they could understand and control and take care of and interpret to their friends. In all these ways, the Victorian interior provided its inhabitants with a peculiar sort of comfort - psychological comfort. This comfort was more subtle than the physical body comfort we associate with a Lazy-boy recliner in the family room, the physical comfort of total relaxation. Most Gilded Age Americans were not very skillful recliners or relaxers. Their lives were more taut and demanding than that. Rather, the comfort they sought was the comfort of psychological ease and personal status security, the comfort of domestic self-respect.21

In retrospect, the houses they built and decorated for themselves may seem, as suggested at the outset, like a puzzling historical aberration, a detour from the steady march of architectural styles that preceded them, a march which would resume in the neo-Georgian and neo-Tudor fashions of the early 20th century. But to their original Gilded Age inhabitants, these houses were modern, sophisticated sanctuaries of safety and self-confidence. They were as up-to-date as could be in their internal technical arrangements, and they were as cosmopolitan as could be in their command of stylistic possibilities. Far from being an aberration for that generation, they were the climactic mainline fulfillment of the middle-class American dream: the singular family home, private, personal, and possessed.

Notes


1Walter Kidney, The Architecture of Choice: Eclecticism in America, 1880-1930 (New York, 1974). For Queen Anne architecture in America, see Mark Girourd, Sweetness and Light: The 'Queen Anne' Movement, 1860-1900 (Oxford, England, 1977), Ch. 9. For the relation between Queen Anne styling and early American architecture, see American Architect and Building News, 2:70 (April 28, 1877), 134, and 2:93 (Oct. 6, 1877), 322. go back

2William C. Whitney to "Dear Sir," May 14, 1896, Letterbook, Box 97, Whitney Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. go back

3Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr., The Decoration of Houses (New York, 1987), 2, 198; Robert Grant, The Art of Living (New York, 1897), 2, 198. See also Henry Seidel Canby, The Age of Confidence (New York, 1934), 11. go back

4Hartford Courant, April 10, 1894. See also New York Times, April 4, 1894 and Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 9, 1894. go back

5James O'Gorman, ed., "On Vacation with H.H. Richardson: Ten Letters from Europe, 1882" Archives of American Art Journal, 19:1 (1979), 4. go back

6Montgomery Schuyler, "The Building of Cincinnati," Architectural Record 23:5 (May 1908), 356; Schuyler, American Architecture (New York, 1892), 160. go back

7John Higham, From Boundlessness to Consolidation (Ann Arbor, 1969), 2-28. See also George Fredrickson, The Inner Civil War: Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union (New York, 1965), Ch.2 and passim. go back

8Spiro Kostof, ed., The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession (New York, 1977), 214-217. go back

9Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (New York, 1967). go back

10The best recent account of 19th century suburbanization is Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York, 1985), 12-115. See also Sam Bass Warner, Jr., Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900 (Cambridge, 1962). go back

11A landmark book promoting the development of the ideal middle-class home was Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, The American Woman's Home (New York, 1869). go back

12The exact percentage of owner-occupied homes in 1890 was 47.8%. Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957 (Washington, 1960), 395. Robert Grant commented that "the consciousness of unencumbered ownership in the roof over one's head affords one of the most affecting and effective opportunities for oratory which the freeborn citizen can desire. The hand of many a husband and father has been stayed from the wine-cup or the gaming-table by the pathetic thought that he owned his house." Grant, Art of Living, 45. For balloon framing, see Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture, 5th ed. (Cambridge, 1967), 347-355. For lawns, see John Brinckerhoff Jackson, American Space (New York, 1972), 29. see also Clifford E. Clark, Jr., The American Family Home, 1800-1960 (Chapel Hill, 1986), 99. go back

13Brief references to the origins of the porch appear in Hugh Morrison, Early American Architecture (New York, 1952), 171, 494-495; James Marston Fitch, American Building: The Historical Forces that Shaped It, 2nd ed. (New York, 1968), 19; William H. Pierson, Jr., American Buildings and their Architects: Technology and the Picturesque, the Corporate and the Early Gothic Styles ( New York, 1978) 301-304; G.E. Kidder Smith, The Architecture of the United States (New York, 1981), Vol. 2, 516, and Vol. 3, 127. For a dissenting view about the Southern origin of the porch, see Allan Gowans, Images of American Living (Philadelphia, 1964), 44-45, 163. go back

14Witold Rybczynski, Home: A Short History of an Idea (New York, 1986), 164. See also Sigfried Giedion, Mechanization Takes Command (New York, 1948), 682 ff., and Gwendolyn Wright, Moralism and the Model Home: Domestic Architecture and Cultural Conflict in Chicago, 1873-1913 (Chicago, 1980), 39-40, 119. go back

15Girourd, Sweetness and Light, 218; Allan Gowans, The Comfortable House: North American Suburban Architecture, 1890-1930 (Cambridge, 1986), 27; Clarence Cook, The House Beautiful (New York, 1881), 111. go back

16Ruth S. Cowan, "The 'Industrial Revolution' in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the Twentieth Century," in Thomas Schlereth, ed., Material Culture Studies in America (Nashville, 1982), 222-236. go back

17Wright, Moralism and the Model Home, Ch. 3; Herbert Gottfried and Jan Jennings, American Vernacular Design, 1870-1940 (New York, 1985), vii-xi and passim. go back

18John Maass, The Victorian Home in America (New York, 1972), 148. go back

19Cook, The House Beautiful, 101, 108, 123; Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance (New York, 1934), 106-107. A recent thorough scrutiny of interior arrangements in the homes of the very rich along the Eastern seaboard is Arnold Lewis, James Turner, and Steven McQuillin, The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age (New York, 1987). go back

20Henry Adams, Democracy, (New York, 1880, 1961), 19,20. go back

21For a perceptive statement that places these items in broad historical perspective, see John Lukacs, "The Bourgeois Interior," American Scholar, 39:4 (Autumn 1970), 616-630. See also Rybczynksi, Home, 175, and Canby, Age of Confidence, 55-66. go back

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