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South Housing Floor Plans: The New Book’s Theme

The Southern Architecture Foundation has published a major new book of southern housing floor plans. Illustrated southern architecture (ISBN: 0-932958-23-0) is a compendium of more than two hundred and fifty photographs, illustrating more than one hundred residential designs and forty-two floor plans. This invaluable design volume was originally published by the Harman Publishing Company of Atlanta in 1931. The original had a foreword by Lewis Crook, AIA of Atlanta; and had an introduction written by Dwight Baum, AIA of New York City. The selection of plans and illustrations of prominent country and suburban homes in the American South was done by a committee of prominent local architects. The new publication of the FundaciĆ³n de Arquitectura del Sur of this historical work is the second publication of the SAF, being the first James Means Architecture – Georgia Classicist, which aired in the fall of 2001. Illustrated southern architecture presents a heady look at an almost forgotten pre-Depression world. This South Coast vernacular house plan architecture includes some of the most luxurious early 20th century country and suburban homes in the South. What makes the presentation so appealing are the included floor plans, as well as the gloomy, picturesque, sepia-green photographs with their chiaroscuro quality.

Although there are many porticoes, however, most of the plans represented are of modern style houses, new but classic, with the particular taste of the south in the old; in fine fabrics, prints and paint; in beautiful scenery with every southern hospitality in mind, waiting for the elegant party guests to arrive. These plans featured blueprints for southern country houses, morning rooms, sleeping porches, and living rooms decorated by upscale firms like Porter and Porter – Interiors – on Atlanta’s Peachtree Street; and James Blauvelt of New York City.

The genesis of Illustrated southern architecture lies in a magazine called Architecture and construction news from the south, which originated in different formats in 1882, and then began its regular publication in 1889 in Atlanta under the direction of the distinguished Atlanta architect Thomas Morgan (1857-1940). The Harman Publishing Company took over the publication of the magazine in 1910, and Henry Harman (1856 – 1926) became the editor of the magazine. The original edition of Illustrated southern architecture It is dedicated to Henry Harman. His son Harry Jr. became the magazine’s business manager. Later Ernest Denmark (1899 – 1980), who started as an employee of this publishing company in his early twenties, became the last editor of the magazine until its completion. It was Denmark who edited Illustrated southern architecture although his name does not appear in the book. The Harman Publishing Company defined “The South” to include the former Confederacy of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; as well as the border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia. Thirty-eight of the illustrated houses are in Georgia; another sixteen are in Tennessee; there are seven from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Missouri; there are six from Alabama, Texas and Virginia; three are from Florida; two are from Oklahoma; and there is one for each of the rest of the states and DC

On page 276 of Illustrated southern architecture an ad appeared for him Architecture and construction news from the south which claimed that it had been in continuous publication since 1882, and that it had modest widespread circulation in the seventeen southern states. The original copies can be viewed at Emory University, the Charlotte Public Library, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Atlanta History Center. Originals from the magazine, which originally cost fifty cents each, now typically sell for between ten and twenty dollars. The original print run was 5000 copies. Illustrated southern architecture it cost five dollars when it was first published in 1931. It was to be part of a planned series of similar books. However, the Depression wiped out the company and the magazine in 1932. Now a fair copy of Illustrated southern architecture it sells for more than five hundred dollars. The current circulation of 1000 copies has its own case, which faithfully reflects the style of the original cover dressed in green that was embossed in gold.

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