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Garden Houses and Privies: Authentic Details for Design and Restoration

Garden Houses and Privies: Authentic Details for Design and Restoration
Peter J. Harrison
Publication Date: 

cloth, 288 p., $70.00

Another fine pattern book of 18th and 19th century designs by a designer of interiors and landscapes,Garden Houses and Privies documents some of the more beautiful small structures in residential landscapes, east of the Mississippi. Author Peter J. Harrison's goal is to encourage more elegant construction of even the simplest building. Carefully working out each historic outbuilding to precise scale, he presents the collection in a series of 245 rendered drawings, carefully identified by historical location.

The majority of the full-page plates are of the privy. Most often a freestanding building and a regular source of general humor, the privy has been generally ignored as a singular design subject over the years, despite its place as a domestic essential in the residential and commercial landscape. The modest notes at the rear of the publication relate a brief history of the privy by historical periods and styles of design. The "taste-makers" of society saw to it that the "necessary," as it was often called by the more sophisticated, was in harmony with the style and design of their individual residences. It also reflected their wealth and sensitivities with greater elaboration in detailing and materials, as well as suitable placement on the property. Harrison also provides interesting trivia relating the influence of society and fashion on the construction of the privy. Whether the reader’s interest lies in historic preservation or in the reintroduction of a past design into contemporary uses, this reference book, with its marbled end papers, is an elegant addition to any bookshelf.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden