Selected free pdf books on home and farm architecture of the past; many with floor plans. 19th and early 20th century books; US and UK.
Free online books from the 1800s and early 1900s.
Table of contents
Collections on 19th Century Domestic Architecture
More Free Books at Internet Archive on 19th Century Domestic Architecture
Vintage Books of Home and Farm Architecture
Consisting of Forty-four Large Quarto Plates containing original designs of Medium and Low Cost Cottages, Seaside and Country Houses. Also, a Club House, Pavilion, School House, and a Small Seaside Chapel. Together with a Form of Specification for Cottages.
Comstock, William T.
NY: Comstock 1883
As the sub-title says, this book only contains illustrations of homes with floorplans, although brief notes accompany some.
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Stillwater, MN: Voyageur 2002
“Barns have long been the center of the family farm; all farm work eventually comes back to the barn. ‘This Old Barn’ is a wonderful tribute to these important structures. You’ll find a variety of ‘down home’, heartwarming tales of barns and their role in farming by familiar writers …, plus sidebars on everything associated with barns, including barn cats, the peculiar smells of barns, hex signs, and more. The text is complemented by glorious paintings, photographs, and artwork… ” – Book cover.
Gardner, E. C.
Boston: Osgood 1875
Light and amusing chapters by a 19th century architect describing his experiences with various clients, re-living the process of trying to design houses to fit their needs and wants. Drawn illustrations and 1800s house plans are included.
Contents: The house the judge built – Captain George’s plan – The house of Abram – Mr. John Smith’s house – The home of the professor – Lucia’s castle – The Duke of Buckingham’s lodge – The home of Mr. and Mrs. Benedict – The planter’s home – The parsonage – One of King Kole’s cottages – The poet’s abiding-place – The doctor’s home – The house that never was built – How it happened.
Beautiful Houses: A Study in House-Building – 1890s House Plans
Foreign Examples in Domestic Architecture – A Collection of American House Plans – Materials and Details for the Artistic House-Builder – The Architect
Gibson, Louis H.
NY: Crowell 1895
This 19th century book is organized in five sections, listed in the sub-title above. “The World’s Homes” has three chapters of French architecture and single chapters for English, German, Swiss and American colonial styles. Numerous illustrations throughout.
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Convenient Houses with Fifty Plans for the Housekeeper … – 1890s House Plans
Architect and Housewife; a Journey through the House; Fifty convenient house plans; practical house building for the owner; business points in building; how to pay for a home
Gibson, Louis H.
NY: Crowell 1889
1880s house plans. Intended to be educational without being technical, this book by an Indiana architect in the 1880s “is intended to deal with houses in a housekeeping spirit. The architect has in mind convenience, stability, and that ideal of housekeepers, beauty of surroundings”. The second part deals with the arrangement of the house, and especially kitchens and pantries, plumbing, laundry, and heating. Following that is a non-technical section on building houses, and then a section on hiring a building contractor. The last section is financing the home.
Parsonage houses, Bailiffs’ lodge, Gardener’s lodge, Game-keeper’s lodge, Park gate lodges, etc. in the Grecian, Italian, and old English styles of architecture. With observations on the appropriate choice of site; the whole designed with strict reference to the practicability of erection, and with due attention to the important consideration of uniting elegance, convenience and domestic comfort with economy … With accurate estimates appended to each design. With colored plates
London: Longman 1833
This book is essentially an advertising publication from an architectural firm in England in the 1830s that catered to the extremely rich. Illustrations of the company’s range of palatial buildings are full-page color paintings. 19th century mansion floor plans.
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Barn Plans and Outbuildings – 1800s Farmhouse Floor Plans
Halsted, Byron D.
NY: Orange Judd 1881
An informative and non-technical book explaining and showing how a variety of 19th century American barn designers addressed the needs of farmers and of the animals that live in these buildings. Two Hundred and fifty-seven drawn illustrations. Barn history, historic farm building design.
Barns, Outbuildings and Fences – 1800s Farmhouse Floor Plans
Harney, George E.
NY: Woodward 1870
The author was obviously an architect for wealthy people with landed estates. His designs for stables and out-buildings were too stylish and expensive for most farmers. Many fine drawings. Historic farm building design.
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Newton Abbot 1970
“The assortment of buildings of different ages found in most farmsteads today provides a unique series of ‘structural documents’, illustrating the nation’s social history as well as the development of the agricultural industry. Their evolution from the primitive post-Roman structures excavated by archaeologists to the mechanized industrial units seen today is here described, with copious plans, drawings and photographs.” – Book cover.
The House, a Manual of Rural Architecture, or, How to Build Country Houses … – 1800s Farmhouse Floor Plans
and Out-buildings embracing the Origin and Meaning of the House; the art of house-building, including planning, style and construction ; designs and descriptions of cottages farmhouses, villas and out-buildings, of various cost and in the different styles of architecture, etc., etc. ; and an appendix containing recipes for paints and washes, stucco, rough-cast, etc. ; and instructions for roofing, building with rough stone, unburnt brick, balloon frames, and the concrete or gravel wall ; with numerous original plans
Jacques, D. H.
NY: American News 1866
This book contains useful non-technical explanations of basic processes of constructing houses and farm buildings. It has drawings of a wide variety of buildings, including housing for a wide range of budgets as well as churches and school-houses. The early Victorian style of some of the houses looks very familiar, matching that of many historic homes around the country today. Numerous drawn illustrations and floor plans.
NY: Outing 1908
The log cabin was a familiar site on the American frontier for two centuries. They were homes that settlers could build themselves at virtually no cost with nothing but very basic tools, if there were trees available. Most settlers replaced the log houses with more comfortable and more expensive frame houses as soon as possible, as homemade log homes were a mark of poverty. However, in the early 20th century log buildings were making a comeback as hunting camps and lakeside cottages. This how-to book, full of instructions and including a number of photos of log buildings in use, was for that audience.
Radford’s Combined House and Barn Plan Book … – 1890s House Plans
being a complete collection of practical, economical and common sense plans of houses, barns, outbuildings, stock sheds, etc. : illustrated with over twelve hundred copper half tone plates and zinc etchings, and containing over three hundred house and barn designs
Radford, William A., ed.
Chicago: Radford 1908
The first 100+ pages of this 1908 book make up what is really a catalog for a company that sold blue prints, with illustrations of dozens of houses, including the floor plans. Most are recognizable, as many of these styles of homes are still in use around the U.S. The remainder of the book is for barns and farm buildings, and contains advice and information about building them (using the Radford company’s blueprints, of course). In addition to many types of barns, the farm buildings include carriage houses, horse stables (including city stables), a range of chicken houses, ice houses, implement sheds, smoke houses, hog houses, and granaries.
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House Plans for Everybody – 1890s House Plans
For Village and Country Residences, costing from $250 to $8,000; including Full Descriptions and Estimates in Detail of Materials, Labor, and Cost, with Many Practical Suggestions, and 175 Illustrations
Reed, S. B.
NY: Orange Judd 1882
This book, first published in 1878, provides 40 home designs, each with a description, itemized cost list, floor plan, and illustration of the completed house.
The Farmstead: The Making of the Rural Home and the Layout of the Farm – 1890s House Plans
Roberts, Isaac P.
NY: MacMillan 1910
Contains advice on every aspect of planning, budgeting for, and constructing all the necessary buildings and other facilities on a farm. Space is also given to maintaining or upgrading old buildings. Numerous drawn illustrations accompany the text.
Chicago: Sears, Roebuck & Co. 1928
Sears Catalog Sales sold barn kits, just as they sold house kits, in the 1920s. Sears worked with customers (through the U.S. mail) to determine their requirements, and then sent all the parts by rail. The actual construction was left to the customer or his contractor.
Craftsman Homes – 1890s House Plans
NY: Craftsman 1909
Gustav Stickley (1858-1942) was an American furniture maker who, beginning in the 1890s, was heavily influenced by the English ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement. That movement, led by artist and poet William Morris, reacted against factory-made goods and modernism by reviving old-fashioned hand-crafted production of a wide variety of goods, and idealized medieval European society. Stickley gradually broadened his activities from furniture making to include design of homes, crafts, literature, music, and city planning, and for several years published a magazine, ‘The Craftsman’, to promote his ideas. This book begins with some of his thoughts on design. It also has many drawn illustrations of houses, including interiors with his original designs of furniture and home crafts.
Nearly 1,000 catalogs of house plans. Nearly all are from the U.S. or Canada, published by a variety of companies between 1880 and the mid-1960s.
This research guide from the librarians at University of Wisconsin – Madison has links to many free online vintage books about early American architecture, organized by region.