A nation’s buildings are a record of the character and aspirations of its people. In a rich blend of social and architectural history, Abbott Lowell Cummings reconstructs, through text and pictures, the framed houses of Massachusetts Bay that reflect the straightforward honesty of our earliest northern settlers and their profound love of craftsmanship.
A substantial number of the nation’s seventeenth-century houses have been preserved in Massachusetts, and Cummings provides illustrations for a majority of them. He describes the dwellings in detail, and includes architectural drawings that were especially commissioned for this book. He demonstrates that the builders were far more sophisticated than previously imagined and that, while maintaining their English timber-building traditions, they were astonishingly adaptable to their new environment.
Beyond the houses themselves, Cummings discusses evolutions in pioneer life. The most simple kinds of changes in architecture, Cummings shows, indicated singular changes in family living. Such additions as kitchens and parlors, or the moving of the master bedroom to a second floor, suggest shifts in the private and social lives of families.
The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay is a splendid story of innovations— of restless, migratory people and their architectural and social responses to the heavily forested New World. It is the first chapter in the long saga of America’s preoccupation with technology as it affected the early American home.