September 1, 2009 | The twenty historic houses in the recently published At Home in Tennessee offer a wonderfully diverse sampling of American architecture and interiors. Donna Dorian, a writer and former style editor of Garden Design magazine, has divided the book into three sections—Historic House Museums, Private Historic Residences, and How We Imagine the Past. Each section includes a brief yet thorough history of the houses and their owners. Among the featured properties are: Andrew Jackson's Greek revival mansion the Hermitage; the Italianate villa McNeal Place attributed to the architect Samuel Sloan; and the Hamilton-Brown House, an 18th-century two-story brick house with recently restored decorative painting. Throughout the book Dorian has provided supplemental historical information and extensive descriptions for each image which clearly identify important furnishings and decorative details.
Anne Hall's photographs capture the mood and harmony of the rooms, while details reveal distinctive architectural features and objects. Nothing here feels styled or confected. The book's design, which features large format pages and cleanly organized text, complements the elegance of the houses. This is an essential volume for the historically minded enthusiast of domestic architecture and interiors.
At Home in Tennessee is published by Louisiana State University Press, 2009, hardcover, 224 pp., $49.95. It is available for purchase directly from LSU.