What Do You Know About American Houses?

The short vocabulary quiz I created after paging through Barron’s Real Estate Handbook back in September was so popular that I’d been meaning to create another. And in a serendipitous moment, A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture, by Virginia Savage McAlester (Random House, 2013), landed on my desk.

Credit: Public Record Office Victoria

And what a thump it made! This hefty tome holds almost 900 pages of reference material, including more than 2,000 maps and illustrations. More than just a home style guide, this is also a history text, covering domiciles from ancient Native American tribes to the present day. It also gets into the minutia by looking closely at building materials of all sorts, while also examining the 30,000-foot view of neighborhood and community structure. As a reference material, one would expect occasional wonkiness. But the text is also eminently readable, with clear narratives making connections between the march of time and the uniquely American ways of life.

In short, if you love our guides to residential styles and structural elements, pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed. But to tide you over until its publication this November, here’s another quiz based on a few interesting items I learned while perusing the uncorrected proof. Enjoy! And of course, let me know how you did in the comment section below.

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

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  1. Kim

    I only got 1 right! And I have this book – the 2006 version. Was a required book for one of my classes. It was probably 8 years ago that I took the class and that is my excuse – time.

  2. El Morris`

    This said I missed one but as an Interior Designer I can tell you that Italianate Style was very much a part of the Victorian Era. Pleases note: “During the 1840s when the Victorian era was just gearing up, Italianate style houses became the hot new trend. The style spread quickly across the USA via widely-published pattern books. With low roofs, wide eaves, and ornamental brackets, Victorian Italianate houses suggest an Italian Renaissance villa. Some even sport a romantic cupola on the roof.” About.com Architecture.

  3. Rose

    60% solely on deductive guessing!

  4. Steve Wedge

    I will also differ on Italianate not being in the Victorian era. They were highly popular right up through the 1870’s.

    Shingle is the closest to being not “of the Victorian types” – it was a transitional style from Victorian into Arts and Crafts.

  5. Kathi Robinson

    40% I think I need to get this book!

  6. Vince Tornincasa

    80%…..missed the one about the ‘event’ that led to city beautiful planning; that was the one I guessed on! The rest, I felt pretty sure. Sounds like a book that would interest me!

  7. I wrongly guessed Queen Anne was not of the period named for Queen Victoria. It’s back to British Royalty for me.

  8. Can’t wait for the new edition – Just talking to another Realtor friend this weekend about brushing up on architectural terms. Looking forward to receiving my copy when its released!