Southern Home Floor Plans – The Subject of New Book

An important new book of Southern home floor plans has been published by the Southern Architecture Foundation. Southern Architecture Illustrated (ISBN: 0-932958-23-0) is a compendium of over two hundred and fifty photographs, which illustrate over a hundred residential designs and forty-two floor plans. This highly useful design quantity was originally published by Harman Publishing Company of Atlanta in 1931. The original had a foreword written by Lewis Crook, A.I.A. from Atlanta; and it had an introduction written by Dwight Baum, A.I.A. of New York City. The selection of plans and illustrations of noticeable suburban and country homes in America’s Southland was made by a committee of noticeable local architects. The Southern Architecture Foundation’s new slipcase publication of this landmark work is the S.A.F.’s second publication, the first being The Architecture of James method – Georgia Classicist, which was issued in the fall of 2001. Southern Architecture Illustrated presents a heady look into an almost forgotten pre-Depression world. This architecture of Southern coastal vernacular home plans includes some of the ritziest early twentieth century suburban and country houses in the South. What makes the presentation so particularly alluring is the included floor plans – and also the shadowy, quaint, green sepia-kind photographs with their chiaroscuro quality.

Although there are lots of porticoes, nonetheless the majority of plans represented are of modern-style homes – new in addition typical – with the particular taste of the South in the antique; in fine fiber, prints, and painting; in fine landscaping with every Southern hospitality in mind, awaiting the stylish party guests to arrive. These plans featured Southern cottage house plans morning rooms, sleeping porches, and drawing rooms which were decorated by exclusive firms such as Porter and Porter – Interiors – of Atlanta’s Peachtree Street; and of James Blauvelt of New York City.

The genesis of Southern Architecture Illustrated lies in a magazine called Southern Architect and Building News, which originated in different format in 1882, and then began regular publication in 1889 in Atlanta under the directorship of distinguished architect Thomas Morgan (1857-1940) of Atlanta. The Harman Publishing Company took over publication of the magazine in 1910, and Henry Harman (1856 – 1926) became the publisher of the magazine. The original edition of Southern Architecture Illustrated is dedicated to Henry Harman. His son Harry Jr. became the business manager of the magazine. Later on Ernest Denmark (1899 – 1980) who started as an employee of this publishing concern while nevertheless in is twenties, went on to become the last editor of the magazine until it ended. It was Denmark who edited Southern Architecture Illustrated already though his name does not appear in the book. The Harman Publishing Company defined “The South” to include the old Confederacy of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virgina; in addition as the border states Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Oklahoma, and District of Columbia. Thirty-eight of the illustrated houses are in Georgia; another sixteen are in Tennessee; there are seven each from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Missouri; there are six each from Alabama, Texas, and Virginia; three are from Florida; two are from Oklahoma; and there are one each from the rest of the states and D.C.

On the 276th page of Southern Architecture Illustrated appeared an advertisement for the Southern Architect and Building News which stated that it had been in continuous publication since 1882, and that it had the modest extensive circulation in the seventeen states of the South. Original copies can be viewed at Emory University, Charlotte Public Library, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Atlanta History Center. Originals of the magazine, which cost fifty cents each originally, now ordinarily sell for from ten to twenty dollars. The original print run was 5000 copies. Southern Architecture Illustrated cost five dollars when it was first published in 1931. It was to be part of a planned series of like books. However, the Depression finished the company and magazine off in 1932. Now, a clean copy of Southern Architecture Illustrated sells for over five hundred dollars. The present print run of 1000 copies has its own slip case, which faithfully mirrors the style of the original green-clothed cover which was embossed in gold.

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