Very Good: A book that does not look new and has been read but is in excellent condition. No obvious damage to
the cover, with the dust jacket (if applicable) included for hard covers. No missing or damaged pages, no creases or tears, and no underlining/highlighting of text or writing in the margins. May be very minimal identifying marks on the inside cover. Very minimal wear and tear. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of any imperfections.
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The front cover shows a painting of The Octagon in 1889, a decade before it was occupied by the American Institute of Architects.
Here are some excerpts from the introduction:
Old houses are memories of past times and departed personalities. As long-established images in the scenes of town and countryside they confer identity on their localities, and they become part of the lore of human society.
Old houses are documents -- of site planning, construction techniques, building materials, residential design, decoration, social attitudes, personal priorities, and ways of living. Many old houses serve creditably as local color, and a few are recognized as landmarks of exceptional importance to our cultural comprehensions.
This book is about the Octagon, designed by William Thornton and built as a winter season townhouse in the raw new city of Washington by John Tayloe III, a tobacco planter and breeder of race horses in Richmond County, Virginia. After the War of 1812 it became the year around residence for some of his family. When the Octagon was built, the new capital was undergoing severe trials in the effort begun by Pres. Washington and carried on by the District Commissioners to attract residents and to win acceptance for the district as the national seat of government. Tayloe's decision to construct not just a part-time dwelling but a fine townhouse a short distance west of the still unfinished President's House -- in an area then largely farmlands and woods -- amounted to a heartening expression of confidence in the new community would indeed become a city.
The history of the Octagon, an early example of the urbane Adam/Federal style, is closely intertwined with the background of an earlier Tayloe house, Mount Airy, the stately Georgian home place in Richmond County. Mount Airy was built when the Tidewater region of the Virginia colony was the preserve of splendid estates built on a vast land holdings originally granted by the King or by the colonial governor in the King's name, to members of a transplanted English aristocracy. Members of the Tayloe family still occupy Mount Airy, as they have for more than two centuries. There is something marvelous in such continuity, and in the fact that both houses are eloquent documents, each of its own time and place, from the period of this country's national and cultural beginnings.
When the American Institute of Architects bought the Octagon in 1902 for its headquarters, after having rented it for four years, the intention was to repair and restore it, the building having survived two decades of office, commercial, and school rentals and approximately two more as a tenement with surprisingly little damage.
For 70 years, from 1898 to 1968, the stages of rehabilitation were paid for and supervised by the AIA. In 1968 the American Institute of Architects Foundation purchased the Octagon, and completed the restoration as it now stands.  The Foundation commissioned this publication, with support by grants from the AIA College of Fellows and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Research.
There was no obligation, expressed or implied, to deal with the Octagon or the AIA role in its restoration in any way except to make this account as comprehensive and objective as possible. Any expressions of opinion are the writer's own, unless otherwise attributed, and any that reflect admiration of the AIA for seeing the Octagon project through many trials and hard decisions are gratuitous.
(You should be able to see the table of contents in the photographs. If you are having difficulty doing so, please e-mail me and I will keyboard them and send them to you.)
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On Sep-26-10 at 23:00:05 PDT, seller added the following information:
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