Reviews for Open House : A Guided Tour of the American Home, 1637-Present

Choice Reviews 1999 October
The evolution of the American home has been meticulously examined over the last decade, in studies focusing on regional lifestyles of the occupants (Jane C. Nylander's Our Own Snug Fireside, CH, Nov'93) or architectural style (Virginia McAlester's Great American Houses and Their Architectural Styles, CH, Feb'95). Technological changes influencing that evolution were glossed over until Ierley, a social historian, filled the void by discussing the technological advances in comfort, convenience, and standard of living. Originating from a survey (appendix 2) of house museums, Open House chronologically delves into such diverse aspects as porches, bathrooms, kitchen appliances, and box springs using "focus houses" open to the public as case studies. Ierley clarifies each advancement with period black-and-white illustrations taken from old photographs, trade catalogs, and museum files. Every aspect of development appears to be covered, including changes in house plans as a result of modern materials, such as plywood and chrome, or appliances. Though the title is bland and does not properly convey the contents, Open House is a welcome addition to the sorely neglected technological field of history and architecture. A link between books on building material trades and technology (James Ayres's Building the Georgian City, CH, May'99) and general house books. Appendixes; endnotes. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. Copyright 1999 American Library Association