In a recent post I mentioned my frustration with the differences in terms and styles across the many history of architecture books in my library. I am beginning to zero in on the source of that annoyance - the overly academic language (imho) of a particular series of academic treatises on historical Canadian architecture (more on that later.) But this amateur's somewhat impatient review of the literature and the recognition of pet peeves has led me to the following conclusion about my favourite book.
My favourite go-to book for information on historical styles, building details, photos, and that soupcon of social history that makes the whole study of built heritage so darned interesting? Ontario Architecture : A Guide to Styles and Building Terms 1784 to the present by John Blumenson, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (1990).
Not only does Mr. Blumenson bring the building story right up to modern heritage, including the tongue in cheek post-modernists, but he starts the story at a spot that warms my UEL heart: 1784.
But the book's so darned clear, concise, visual.
And his bibliography is good, including that series I kvetched about earlier.
And in the acknowledgements, he thanks three individuals for their help and support. (I like it when folks give credit where due). Those three names have taken me far in my studies. So I feel good knowing that we agree on Anthony Adamson, Harold Kalman and Thomas McIlwraith.
And I suspect Mr. B's a favourite of my esteemed history of architecture prof Shannon Kyles, as the course material we used for Ontario Architecture corresponds well (so as not to induce headaches in this particular old house nut).
And John Blumenson has written another even handier book, that I travel with on the increasingly rare trips south of the 49th: Identifying American Architecture (1995).
And finally. Because Mr. Blumenson and I have a story. Sort of. This book was one of the first I purchased when I took Shannon's course. Although my love affair with old houses goes way back to childhood (and undergrad art history courses), the luxury of time to study came only with retirement from a jealous career. I ordered the book from my favourite online bookseller Abebooks, who had a copy in England. Needless to say, although the book was affordable (barely) the shipping was not. But I succumbed.
Shortly afterwards, a friend mentioned she had a book she had been wanting to hand on to me. She'd purchased it when it was first published, as it featured a house she loved in London, her former home.
Of course, that gift was to be - Mr. Blumenson!