Old House Colors

Schwin, Lawrence. Old house colors: an expert’s guide to painting your old (or not so old) house. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 1990.

I had some initial hesitations about allowing Old House Colors: An Expert’s Guide to Painting Your Old (Or Not So Old) House by Lawrence Schwin III back on the shelf. “Really,” I said to myself, “do we actually want to encourage people to paint their homes garish reds, greens, and yellows?” However, Schwin’s color schemes are not meant for just any old house. An “insider’s manual for choosing the most beautiful and most authentic exterior paint selection for your home,” the title contains a total of 35 styles from every period, each showing “in gorgeous full color the exact shadings and nuances” essential to obtaining an exact reproduction. And, because the composition of paint has changed so much over the decades, the book includes “valuable charts showing how to mix today’s brand-name paints” to exactly replicate the recommended colors. Although I initially dismissed it, the more I looked through the pages of Old House Colors the more I realized what a useful resource it could be for anyone interested in historic preservation and restoration, two topics that aligned exactly with Professor Alexander’s interests.

Library of Congress call number: TT 320 S38 1990

Battle Hall Centennial T-Shirts!

BATTLE HALL CENTENNIAL Celebration comes to a close…   in style!

On 11-11-11 the School of Architecture and the University of Texas Libraries marked the beginning of a year-long celebration of Battle Hall’s 100th anniversary with a grand party and lecture.  The exhibit Our Landmark Library: Battle Hall at 100 and a self-guided tour offered continued enjoyment throughout the year.

From now until the end of the semester, your Architecture & Planning Library will be holding a daily drawing for commemorative Battle Hall Centennial t-shirts.

When you check out your books, ask your friendly library staff how YOU can earn a chance to win!

Happy Holidays-
From your friends at the Architecture & Planning Library

Designed by Cass Gilbert as the University of Texas’ first library building, Battle Hall was completed in 1911 at a cost of approximately $280,000.  Throughout its history it also served as the Office of the President, the home of UT’s first rare book collection and archive, the home of the newly created Fine Arts department, and a U.S. Post Office.  Today, it is home to the Architecture & Planning Library and its Alexander Architectural Archive.  To learn more, check out Our Landmark Library Battle Hall at 100

Country Furniture

Watson, Aldren A. Country furniture. New York: Crowell, [1974].

At first, a book like Country Furniture by Aldren A. Watson (1917- ) might seem out of place in the Architecture and Planning Library. Although many architects and architecture students have an interest in furniture design, their tastes tend to run in a more modern direction. Country Furniture, meanwhile, is a book that celebrates the traditional and, most of all, the handcrafted. Despite its old-fashioned subject matter, this title is a full of extremely comprehensive and valuable information on everything from established woodworking techniques and the properties of wood, to the woodworker’s workshop and the typical community it might have existed and thrived in.

What first attracted me to this book were the “over three hundred detailed pencil drawings” by author and illustrator Aldren A. Watson. These simple pencil drawings are remarkable for their clear and concise description of antique furniture. Watson, a respected New England artist, is well known for books on craftsmanship. Titles such as The Blacksmith: Ironworker and Farrier and Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings show a deep appreciation for bygone techniques and, as such, are an indispensable resource for historians and preservationists.

Library of Congress call number: TS 880 W33 1974

Highlights of Manhattan

Will, Irwin. Highlights of Manhattan. New York: Century Co., [1927].

Highlights of Manhattan was one of the first books in Professor Alexander’s library that caught my eye. Its lovely gilded cover and “roaring twenties” font beckoned me to open it up and see what was inside. When I finally did, I wasn’t disappointed. The title, by Will Irwin (1873-1948), is a travel book of New York City that details significant locations in and around the city – from Broadway all the way up to The Cloisters. These “highlights” are enhanced by thirty-two gorgeous engravings and one color etching by illustrator E. H. Suydam (1885-1940). Suydam, a student of the Philadelphia Museum’s School of Industrial Art, was a talented illustrator, etcher, lithographer, and block printer who specialized in providing images for travel books. Over the course of his career he created more than twenty volumes for Century, one for each of the “great” American cities.

Tourist’s guidebooks, like Highlights of Manhattan, are an important part of any architecture library. Although a volume from the 1920s might be outdated and irrelevant to anyone planning a trip to New York City today, that same title can hold a wealth of information for architectural historians and preservationists. Just a quick perusal of Highlights of Manhattan gave me both a real sense of what it might have been like to visit 1920s New York and allowed me to note some of the changes that have made a lasting impression on the city.

Library of Congress call number: F 128.5 I7 1927

Highlights from the Library of Drury Blakely Alexander

The Library of Drury Blakely Alexander is a collection of architectural books assembled by Drury Blakely Alexander (1924-2011), or Blake (as he preferred to be called), over the course of his celebrated teaching career. Professor Alexander was both an alumnus of, and a distinguished professor in, the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture from 1955 to 1994. During his time at the University of Texas at Austin, he also laid the foundations for the school’s nationally important collection of architectural drawings, photographs, papers, and other ephemera that since 1997 has been known as the Alexander Architectural Archive. His library, which encompasses over 6,000 volumes, represents just one part of a generous bequest made by Professor Alexander to the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture.

Since early this summer, I have been processing books and adding provenance notes to the many titles in Blake’s library. Professor Alexander’s primary interest was in making his books available to scholars and students, so this is being done to enable greater access to his extensive collection. Each week this blog will highlight one of the unique, beautiful, or interesting titles that have piqued my interest as I have sorted through the Library of Drury Blakely Alexander. Stay tuned!