There are many excellent guides to American house styles, each is well illustrated, well researched, orderly and predictably Progressive.  Each of these books, the concise to the comprehensive, parrots received outlines, outlines formed of social theories of art.

You will remember the social theories.  Marx’s economic theory, the failure that inspired the murder of a hundred million during the old XX Century.  Hegel’s Zeitgeist theory, a phantasm of Time, an airy spirit that moved minds, men, and mighty machines.  Darwin’s evolution theory of descending man, a creature alike a finch’s beak that changes shape to better crack nuts.  Each theory is easy to comprehend, each is in error.


American House Styles

American House Styles, Spanish Colonial, M. Curtis, designer


Alfred Barr, first director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, codified a theory of artistic descent, Phidias to Michelangelo to Watteau to Picasso to Pollack to LeWitt along an evolutionary line that best served the collecting patterns of the museum, and the investment patterns of the museum’s patrons.  Barr and others of the museum published in numerous books the descending progression of art periods from the ancient to modern.  These books became text that influenced every schoolgirl and bachelor of art, each of whom accepted without question the inventions of Alfred Barr.  And, as you have guessed, the schoolgirls and the bachelors of art have composed our progressively mistaken guides to American house styles.

You will notice that without exception these style books read like a primer on Progressive inevitability, a descent from the Classical to the Modern, a Modern snuffing-out of exhausted Classicism.  And yet, there is another, more accurate, more truthful conception of history, the Classive.  The Classive acknowledges the ascent of civilization toward the beautiful, the good, the true, and supposes excellence in adaptation, invention within tradition.

In simple illustration: house style guides illustrate the progression of a plain gabled box to gabled box with columns, to a box with turrets, to a box with turret and columns, to a crookeded box, a modern house, the end.  This, a make-believe of Progressive inevitability.  Truth is, the Classive has been with us all along, developing, inventing within tradition, but invisible because inconvenient to the handy progressive narrative.  Besides, we all believe in science, like we believe in God and Santa Claus, things we hope are true.  And science is Progressive?  No, science is Classive, first through Aristotle, et alia, then through the XIII Century Catholic church, then through the XVIII Century faithful who sought proofs of God by inventing the scientific method.


American House Styles

American House Styles, Graphic, M. Curtis, designer


Of course, there are periods, there are common characteristics and regional proclivities; yet these are not the workings of a Hegelian phantasm, Darwinian evolution, or Marxist revolution, they are choices made in liberty as fashion, convenience, material or finance move opinions, effect choices.  Historical periods?  Yes, of course, yet these are not strawmen gathered to lift the Progressive Modern as Atlas might lift the world.  Atlas shrugged long ago, put down the dead-end of the progressive and returned to the ever verdant and inventive Classive.  Witness Americans who after more than 100 years of modernistic, progressive propaganda prefer the Classive, 3 to 1.

Americans have always chosen the Classive over the Progressive, and always shall, as-long-as we are Americans.  These 100 years, Americans have designed, have built, have purchased Classive houses, houses that have been, hos epi to polu, erased from the histories, the guides to American house styles.  Now, the Progressive narrative is an aged myth, a pretty make-belief, a fairytale that will dissolve when truth is pictured.  The Beautiful Home is picturing Classive houses within a continuing Classive tradition, a tradition better loved than the Progressive because more beautiful, because more humane.


American House Styles

Traditional Neighborhood, House Styles 4, M. Curtis, designer


Over the months of coming years, this “American House Styles” graphic will grow unbiased classifications, classively, as classically Aristotle grew science by observation, description, and induction.  Hope you enjoy.  Hope you come to accurately understand the world in which you live.


*   *   *


Featured image: vintage “The American Home” cover.


*   *   *