GROUND FLOOR GALLERY
At the Grolier Club December 11 2013-February 7 2014
In December of 2013 the Grolier Club will host an extraordinary exhibition on the history of the American Dream of home ownership. Over 200 rare books, periodicals, drawings, periodicals, and printed ephemera will show how the idea of “A Home for All” was marketed in the United States, first through eighteenth-century builder’s guides, then by nineteenth-century pattern books, and finally by twentieth-century house plan catalogues.
The plans, elevations, and large, elaborate, and often colorful perspective views in these books fueled the growth of home ownership in America. The story begins in 1775 with George Bell’s reproduction of Abraham Swan’s The British Architect, credited as the first architectural book published in America. The show will contrast early American editions of luxurious pattern books for the wealthy with a selection of the more modest “builder’s guides” used by most Americans who desired to construct a house. As the Republic grew, and novel styles of design began to challenge Classical and Federal norms, new domestic pattern books such as Alexander Jackson Davis’s Rural Residences (1837) began to offer plans and elevations in the new Italianate and Gothic styles.