Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

House Proud: A Social History of Atlanta Interiors, 1880-1919

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

House Proud: A Social History of Atlanta Interiors, 1880-1919

Article excerpt

House Proud: A Social History of Atlanta Interiors, 1880-1919. By Lori Ericksen Rush. (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2014. Pp. xvi, 207. $45.00, ISBN 978-0-88146-476-4.)

Residential architecture built by the generation of Atlantans of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods has received little attention in the literature of architectural history, and, as Lori Ericksen Rush notes, the interiors especially remain "relatively unexplored" (p. ix). Rush has researched Atlanta's newspapers for descriptions of interior finishes, furniture, and other custom interior detailing in order to better understand the artistic homes of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Atlanta. Given the paucity of period images of middle-class home interiors, House Proud: A Social History of Atlanta Interiors, 1880-1919 for the most part concentrates on the homes of the social elite, although some references to the Craftsman movement and bungalow traditions of the early twentieth century are included.

The decision to limit photographic plates to early archival black-and-white images results in a book entirely without color. While it provides a visual consistency, and arguably greater authenticity, it also reflects the author's (or publisher's) decision to avoid illustrating Atlanta homes from the period that survive today. However, House Proud is not just a picture book. Rush's text is important work, describing Atlanta's homes as expressions of both Old South and New South attitudes that displayed a symbiotic relationship between conservative southern traditionalism and brash New South progressivism. The conspicuous consumption evidenced in Atlanta's turn-of-the-century interiors amply illustrated late Victorian and Edwardian excess.

Existing publications and master's theses on Atlanta architects and architecture by authors such as William R. Mitchell, Elizabeth Meredith Dowling, Carol A. Flores, and Jennifer Evans Yankopolus have concentrated on the period after that described in House Proud, thus making Rush's book all the more valuable. …

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