Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Abstract

This dissertation examines contemporary English Cottage Style dwellings in America. First developed in Britain by English domestic architect Charles Voysey in the late 19th century, this house style was characterized by a simplification of design, a rationalism of plan, and a structural integrity reminiscent of rural medieval buildings. English Cottage Style homes gained popularity in Britain and later in America as a middle-class house type, promoted by Progressive Era housing reformers, including Gustave Stickley. Sheathed in concrete, to mimic the naturally occurring stuccos used in the 13th and 14th centuries, English Cottage Style dwellings utilized the latest in concrete reinforcement technologies, making them affordable, fire resistant, and long-lasting. Popularized in American domestic magazines, architectural journals, and product advertisements of the early twentieth century, English Cottage Style homes expressed the philosophy of the "ideal home" or the "Home Sweet Home" during a time of mass industrialization, immigration and urbanization. Originally country homes, English Cottage Style dwellings also fit neatly into the new suburbanization movement. However, as time passed and mass development of English Cottages occurred, the rural nature of these dwellings including setting, rambling floor plans, and the sense of individual craftsmanship degenerated into a sameness, which defied Voysey's original intent. Ironically the English Cottage Style, with its medieval precedent, was also an influence on modernism. The fluidity of their smooth, white, concrete stucco exteriors and the simplicity of their scrubbed and spare interiors stood in contrast to the frivolity and heavy ornamentation of popular Victorian styles. Consequently, English Cottages inspired an age of sleek Art Modern and International design. Today many English Cottages survive in cities such as Detroit, Michigan, where the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts helped popularize the style. Examples can also be found in elite historic districts around the country, where English styles in general flourished, including cottages of the rambling style, first introduced by Voysey and his colleagues in the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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