Kit Houses

Chronology Block 3 Pattern Books

Pattern books appealed directly to future homeowners with colorful, picturesque renderings of houses in both urban and rural settings. Other than a floor plan and elevations, these books furnished few details, leaving design details to the architect or builder.

Beginning in the 1840s, Andrew Jackson Downing, a horticulturist and architect, published a series of books on rural architecture and landscape design, ushering in a shift from classical architecture to romantic styles like Gothic, Tudor, and Italianate. While early pattern books targeted wealthy families seeking a refuge from the city, they gradually incorporated more modest designs as transportation opened suburban living to the middle class.

A.J. Downing, Cottage Residences, 1847. Courtesy of Getty Research Institute.