This superbly illustrated book records the development of Boston's Back Bay during the period of its greatest growth. Bainbridge Bunting focuses his study on one particularly significant architectural form—the town house. He chronicles, both pictorially and verbally, the first appearance, evolution, and eventual discard, during the era, of every local architectural style, all of which later gained national acceptance. He shows how architectural styles were affected by such developments as the electric light, changing preferences in materials, machine production of such interior parts as woodwork and mantels, new fire laws and building restrictions, and rising labor costs. He also provides an extensive account of the pivotal role played by members of the Boston Society of Architects in the growth of the profession throughout the country during this formative period. These Back Bay homes, Bunting points out, reflect to a striking degree the social and cultural attitudes of the community and, in the process of reconstructing the life that was led in them, he offers an absorbing and perceptive commentary on Boston society and its mores.
Bunting has made a distinguished contribution to cultural history in his perceptive use of domestic architecture to reflect and interpret the customs, ideas, and interests of an American generation in a setting peculiarly favorable for such a study.
An immensely detailed but never tedious account of the development of a district celebrated for the intellectual and financial eminence of its inhabitants.
This truly fascinating book is a detailed chronicle of a district rich in meaning for architect, planner, historian, sociologist and lover of Americana... With it all, insights are gained into the mores of those marvelous Bostonians and their equally marvelous city.
Here is an excellent book. Although parts of residential Back Bay are now a century old, surprisingly little has been written about this brightest jewel in Boston's crown. So the book is twice welcome. Mr. Bunting...writes with authority yet with a clarity of style that makes for delightful reading.
- 494 pages
- Belknap Press
From this author
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