Interlude: Houses from the past

So, I was browsing around at Project Gutenberg for books on how people thought of houses in the past, and ran across this ebook. Rural Architecture. which has the extended title, “Being a complete description of Farm Houses, Cottages and Outbuildings.”  The book is about 380 pages long with another 12 or so pages advertising a series of publications by this publishing house.

I was particularly taken by some of the line drawings, some of which follow.  In between each segment on a particular type of house there are rather detailed plans and notations, and I was reminded of Yogi Berra’s comment that “you can see a lot by just observing.”

This is one example of an old cottage from the book. A couple more of them are below.
Old Two-Story Cottage line drawing
Above is a two-story cottage.  Notice the extension on the back.  This seemed to be a popular design in the mid 1800’s.

Here is another:

another example of a cottage design around 1850
It seems to me that there is a striking resemblance to modern “Little Houses.” So what is old becomes new again.


5 Responses to “Interlude: Houses from the past”

  1. PerryA Says:

    I love the drawings. I could be wrong, but I think that the extensions at the back of the houses were used for sheltering livestock & tools.

  2. doug Says:

    My guess would the “extensions” where the forerunner of the modern day garage.

  3. sofistic Says:

    Doug, that could be. What I have noticed is that it was common for structures built with the home on one end and a barn-like structure on the other end of a long enclosed space connecting them. My understanding is that the chickens, rabbits, etc. as well as hay and grain storage was in this long connecting enclosure. It seemed like a good plan where there were long cold winters, and you didn’t have to go outside to take care of the animals or access stored food.

  4. Hannah Says:

    Wonderful sketches- the extension off the 2-story cottage reminds me of some of the Amish house extenders for relatives. Do you have any more of these sketches besides the ones currently shown here or in the links below the page? Thank you!

    • sofistic Says:

      Hi Hannah: There are thousands of books on Project Gutenberg, but the search engine is pretty clunky, so it is hard to find things. The narrative on this post has a link to the entire book so you can go directly to that. Some of my favorites are the journals that people kept as the U.S. population moved westward. There are also journals by people during the Great Depression, and letters home from soldiers during the Civil War period. Browse around; you will be amazed at what you can find.

      I suppose that it is possible that the one you mention could be of Amish origination, but I don’t have enough information to confirm it.


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