Building Georgian, by the Book


Likely you have heard, perhaps you have spoken the phrase, “You are what you eat.”  We all say many things that are not true, being human and fallible.  Have you noticed, world round we eat many different things, yet we are roundly much the same.  Better to say, “You are what you read,” for here the differences tell.  You have noticed, I expect, differences in countries, cities, houses, persons world-round; each and all is made of what is read.  We build ourselves by the book, as Williamsburg, Washington, Jefferson, and all that is Georgian is a building by the books … a Building Georgian.

These books, listed below, are books that each aspiring Georgian architect should read, understand, and by faith come into communion.  Perhaps you know, style is formed in the bones of the mind, style is not thin cloth, a garment we put on to disguise and to hide.  True, most are dressed as told, architecture students, for instance, each with her knee-pant, tattoo, and pinwheel, frowning in hope that when grown to be dressed tall in steel and glass, just like everyone else.  Being unique is not easy, being Georgian is difficult … the discipline, the excellence, the beauty.


Building Georgian

Building Georgian. image credit: Tony Marturano


There is pride, there is prejudice, there is tradition that holds all in balance, society, family, and the congress with one’s honor.  Each book here singled participates in the Classive tradition, in strength to expand the good, in beauty to allow health.  When a strong, beautiful book comes into your library, the book when opened will come in to you, and there an ascension into something high, something eternal, “Beauty, Goodness, and Truth”, for instance.

To urge ambition, I have offered a few lines of introduction to each book, description in outline cribbed from book-jacket and flap-advertisements.  Clicking the Amazon link does not fund Jeff Bezos’ newsletter, The Washington Post—thanks be to God.  Even so, should mention: Amazon funds Jeff Bezos’ Georgian mansion … well, two Georgian mansions, a Greek Revival, etc.  I include book links for your convenience.  Your local bookstore will, likely, reward your extra effort.  Either way, I urge enlightenment, maturity in tradition, Georgian tradition by which liberty’s virtue has extended to all the world.  Yes, JB is much in debt to the Georgians, as are we all.  Building Georgian.


Andrea Palladio

Building Georgian

Andrea Palladio’s The Four Books of Architecture.

Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), Italian Renaissance architect, was inspired by the Imperial Roman, Vitruvius (architect to Augustus) to create an architectural style you know as “Palladian”.  Palladio is the world’s most influential architect, more influential than all the Mod architects, combined.  Most of the world’s architecture, even most of Mod mods is, hos epi to polu, Palladian, a Palladianism.  The Four Books of Architecture text is illustrated by over 200 plates that picture edifices of Palladio’s design or of ancient Classive architecture reconceived and reconstructed.



Giacomo Leoni

Building Georgian

Leoni’s English translation of Palladio’s “Four Books”.

Leoni’s edition of the “Four Books” extended Palladianism to middling English readers, architects, and gentlemen who were intrigued, who were ambitious to achieve the excellence of Classive antiquity found in our early Classive ruins, the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, et cetera (for later Classive ruins, witness Detroit of the 20th Century.)  Leoni’s adaptations of Palladio suited English sensibilities, flattered the picturesque countryside, influenced manners (witness Jane Austin, her readers, et alia, et cetera) and make good taste commonly available.


Colen Campbell

Building Georgian

Vitruvius Britannicus

British architects and patrons responded to early XVIII Century Baroque excesses and turned to Renaissance authority, to Andrea Palladio for inspiration.  Published in a three-folio set (1715 to 1725), Vitruvius Britannicus meticulous details Palladian inspired buildings of two previous centuries.  Inigo Jones, Sir John Vanbrugh, and author Colen Campbell’s designs feature prominently in the editions.





James Gibbs

Building Georgian

Gibbs’ Book of Architecture

Gibbs (not included among the architects of Vitruvius Britannicus) was the first Englishman to publish a book of his designs.  The Book of Architecture pictures elevations, perspectives, blueprints, et cetera that influenced England and which inspired emulation in the American colonies.  St. Mary le Strand, Marybone Chapel, The Church of Allhallows in Derby, the addition of King’s College at Cambridge, et cetera, all buildings Georgian.




Inigo Jones and William Kent

Building Georgian

Designs of Inigo Jones, Frontispiece, William Kent.

Designs of Inigo Jones, summary note of the edition: Prepared by William Kent, funded by Lord Burlington, this edition honors the architecture of Inigo Jones, though in truth, the design are as much by John Webb as by Jones, as Kent acknowledges.  Then too, Kent includes his own designs, much as Leoni assumed the designs of Alberti.





Robert & James Adam

Building Georgian

The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam

Brothers Robert & James Adam infused Georgian architecture with the Hellenic and the Latinate.  Their book, The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam, is among the most influential books in architectural history.  The 106 illustrated plates shaped all aspects of architecture and furniture design in England and her colonies.  The finest engravers, including Piranesi, contributed their skills to the book.





American Georgian

Great Georgian Houses of America.

Great Georgian Houses of America.

Great Georgian Houses of America, Volume I, Volume II: This two-volume set contains nearly 500 beguiling plates of American Georgian facades, floor-plans, interiors, decorative details, and delightful tableaus.  Seventy-seven of America’s best Georgian houses, New England to the Carolinas, are included in this edition, the essential book of the American Georgian.




Here, should mention: Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England combined are smaller than our state of Oregon.  The English achievement rivals the achievements of Athens and Rome, a testament to the virtue of faith in English liberty, of application in precedent, of innovation within tradition.  As mentioned, “We are what we read.


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Featured Image, Building Georgian by the Book. credit: Tony Marturano


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