Sloan's Victorian Buildings
by Samuel Sloan

Samuel Sloan: Sloan's Victorian Buildings (Dover Publications)

Unabridged Dover (1980) republication of the original edition entitled The Model Architect, published in two volumes by E. S. Jones & Co., Philadelphia, 1852. New introduction to the Dover edition by Harold N. Cooledge, Jr., Alumni Professor of Architectural History, College of Architecture, Clemson University. 114 plates (several originally in color printed in black-and-white). iv + 412pp. 9.375 x 12.25 inches. Paperbound. ISBN 0-486-24009-6.

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From the Book Cover

“Plans suited to purpose, an appearance in unison with the locality, an adaptation of parts to the whole, and an appropriate use of ornament are all essential to comply with the requisitions of good taste.” In short, the theory of modern architecture. Yet the date is pre-Wright, pre-Sullivan, pre-Arts-&-Crafts: 1851. And the author, who is nowhere considered among American architectural thinkers, is yet one of the first American architects. Samuel Sloan (1815-84) began to design buildings at a time when “architect” meant compiler of imitative patterns for the use of the actual builder (contractor, carpenter or mason). Very early in his career the young Sloan wrote a remarkable book: The Model Architect (1852-3), a bold (if conventionally draped) call for an essentially American architecture, designed by respected professionals for a public of taste.

The Model Architect went through numerous legitimate and pirated editions, and Sloan's ideal villas were copied and built across the country. That influential work is here reprinted complete and unabridged (two volumes bound as one), including Sloan's comprehensive essays on style and substance in architecture.

Sloan proclaimed his desire for a “‘matter-of-fact’ business like book” but one simultaneously “handsome, interesting and creditable.” To that end the 60 villas, cottages, schools, churches and mansions are pictured in charming lithographs, as well as scaled floor plans and elevations. Each design is accompanied by details of the arches, windows, ornaments, and joints characteristic of Sloan's modified Gothic, Grecian, Tudor, Italian, Norman and even Oriental facades. Specifications, tables and cost estimates give an accurate idea of building conditions in pre-Civil War America. Sloan's discourses cover the history of the various classic and medieval schools or architecture, plus contemporary knowledge of timber, masonry, carpentry, joinings, ventilation and gardening among other subjects. Everywhere Sloan communicates his belief in the future of an American style suited to the unique American landscape.

Model builders will find the plans adaptable in miniature; historians of art, architecture and style ought to welcome the reappearance of this important work. For the general reader, an elegant period piece recapturing in facsimile the original lush book design.

Cover design by Paul E. Kennedy.

(The above commentary is provided by Dover Publications, Inc.)

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