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Arts and Crafts Architecture

History and Heritage in New England

Maureen Meister

This book offers the first full-scale examination of the architecture associated with the Arts and Crafts movement that spread throughout New England at the turn of the twentieth century. Although interest in the Arts and Crafts movement has grown since the 1970s, the literature on New England has focused on craft production. Meister traces the history of the movement from its origins in mid-nineteenth-century England to its arrival in the United States and describes how Boston architects including H. H. Richardson embraced its tenets in the 1870s and 1880s. She then turns to the next generation of designers, examining buildings by twelve of the region’s most prominent architects, eleven men and a woman, who assumed leadership roles in the Society of Arts and Crafts, founded in Boston in 1897. Among them are Ralph Adams Cram, Lois Lilley Howe, Charles Maginnis, and H. Langford Warren. They promoted designs based on historical precedent and the region’s heritage while encouraging well-executed ornament. Meister also discusses revered cultural personalities who influenced the architects, notably Ralph Waldo Emerson and art historian Charles Eliot Norton, as well as contemporaries who shared their concerns, such as Louis Brandeis. Conservative though the architects were in the styles they favored, they also were forward-looking, blending Arts and Crafts values with Progressive Era idealism. Open to new materials and building types, they made lasting contributions, with many of their designs now landmarks honored in cities and towns across New England.

Cover Image of Arts and Crafts Architecture: History and Heritage in New England
Cloth: $35 | E-book: $39.99
ISBN-13: 9781611686623
Pages: 328 | Size: 7 in. x 10 in.
Date Published: November 4, 2014
Screenshot-2023-10-11-at-16.51.58

“Finally, the architecture of the Arts and Crafts years in Boston has been given the serious study it so richly deserves.”

James F. O’Gorman, Wellesley College

Reviews

  • In her portrait of a group of architects who practiced in Boston while promoting the English Arts and Crafts movement a century ago, Maureen Meister weaves sensitive descriptions of construction details and materials that convey her intimate familiarity with the subject.

    Architecture Boston
  • For scholars of New England architecture, Meister’s book is invaluable; for residents of the area, it is a wonderful guide to our physical environment.

    Design New England
    distributed by the Boston Globe
  • This useful illustrated guide to the movement that flowered from 1890 to 1920 puts into context Radcliffe’s Fay House, the McLean Hospital campus, Phillips Brooks House, and many iconic homes.

    Harvard Magazine
  • Meister’s fascinating look at the origins and influences of arts and crafts architecture in New England is as finely crafted and detailed as the works it explores. . . . The book is filled with fine portraits of the architects highlighted and many of the notable buildings they created, a number of which stand today. ­This volume should delight scholars and other academics as well as enthusiasts of American architecture and should be found in libraries with a concentration of decorative arts, architecture, and architectural history.

    Library Journal
  • A thorough scholarly work. . . .Recommended.

    Choice
  • American Arts and Crafts architecture was uniquely responsive to its setting, resulting in work that varied widely across the country. As Maureen Meister demonstrates in her authoritative account, the architects who led Boston’s Society of Arts and Crafts created designs rooted in English and Anglo-Colonial precedents—drawing on the best of the past to address the challenges of the early twentieth century.

    Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, University of Washington
  • Maureen Meister crafts an engaging portrait of a network of architects whose work reflects a shared ideal, rich intellectual underpinnings, respect for the past, fine craftsmanship, and carefully chosen materials. Proponents of both the Gothic and Colonial Revivals, they were equally inspired to invent new building typologies suited to a burgeoning region and a progressive era. This thematic overview is compelling, thoughtful, and delightfully readable.

    Beverly K. Brandt, Arizona State University
  • Finally, the architecture of the Arts and Crafts years in Boston has been given the serious study it so richly deserves. The period ‘produced an extraordinary flowering of architecture in New England,’ writes Maureen Meister in a statement that could not have been taken seriously a generation or two ago. Her broad and deep revisionist discussion substantiates the truth of that assertion, and plugs a great hole in the published history of American architecture.

    James F. O’Gorman, Wellesley College

About the Author

MAUREEN MEISTER is the author of Architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement in Boston: Harvard’s H. Langford Warren.

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