Michael Olmert: Kitchens, Smokehouses, and Privies: Outbuildings and the Architecture of Daily Life in the Eighteenth-Century Mid-Atlantic



Although I apreciate having the many photos of these outbuildings and drawings pulled together in this one book I was a little disappointed I was hoping for a in depth orginal study It appears to be mostly a summary of the work of other scholars which is a laudable task but I find it exceedingly hard to trace the information presented back to the original sources which is what many of us would like to find and cite Also although the format is very attractive and gives the appearance on line of a large coffee table book be aware that it is actually only about 7 by 8 in sizeReal footnotes would make this volume much better and intellectually transparent Instead at the end of each chapter he just has a Notes and Further Reading section I attended a lecture by the author who was very engaging The depth of his information is great in the job of understanding the practical easons for the structures of the colonial days Author Michael Olmert won his No Limits (Brutal Master reputation writing Emmy award winning documentaries and scholarly yeteadable books Copiously illustrated with almost 100 black and white photographs of survivings outbuildings Olmert s book gives an excellent overview of the various dependencies which served the large 18th century Tidewater or Chesapeake plantation house their origins evolutions and functions The book focuses on the kitchens smokehouses laundries dairies offices icehouses and dovecotes of large estates and prosperous plantations with little discussion of the types of outbuildings found on the typical small holders farms The book s subtitle Outbuildings and the Architecture of Daily Life in the Eighteenth Century Mid Atlantic is misleading The Mid Atlantic Liar, Liar region includes New York New Jersey Pennsylvania Delaware and Maryland However this book focused almost exclusively on the architecture of the Tidewater Virginia and Chesapeake Virginia and Marylandegi. In Kitchens Smokehouses and Privies Michael Olmert takes us into the eighteenth century backyards of colonial America He explores the many small outbuildings that can still be found at obscure ural farmsteads throughout the Tidewater and greater mid Atlantic in towns like Williamsburg and Annapolis and at elite plantations such as Mount Vernon and Monticello These structures were designed to support the performance of a single task cooking food; washing clothes; smoking meat; storing last winter's ice; or keeping milk cheese and cream fresh Privies and small offices are also addressed as is the dovecote in whic.

Airy style that characterizes that sort of popular lightweight periodicalAlthough Olmert discusses laundering at some length he skirts such a basic uestion as what exactly was a washtub like wood staves or copper There is much discussion also about the unpleasantness of slave life and chamber pots and privies Nevertheless the uestion of who went where and where the pots were emptied is largely avoided Although Olmert suggests p 125 that pots were carried from the house to the privy by slaves absent documentation it does not seem likely that slaves were encouraged to carry out their messy work inside a gentry finished privy The negative evidence suggests that Olmert has very little experience with his topic beyond the fairy tale estoration at WilliamsburgThe eproduction level of the photographs is very poor many of them dark and murky They appear to lack any manipulation of the images in the modern electronic darkroom to the extent that they are seldom helpfulAnyone interested in American 19C folkways is probably already familiar with the much better esearched work of John Michael Vlach Architectural historians stand in awe of Carl Lousnbury s Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape In addition to those works a few minutes of esearch in the online HABS collection of the Library of Congress will yield much interesting and accurate material than Olmert s book I picked this book up on suggestion of one of my favorite journals Gastronomica From a foodie s perspective it has invaluable historical information about the laborious processes involved in food production before todays mass marketing It made me value the lessons learned from good architecture and thousands of years of trial and error Excellent topical study of Old Dependancies While it s nearly impossible to have one book that covers it all this book Kitchens Smokehouse and Priv. Ir literary presence In two appendixes he also considers octagonal and hexagonal structures which had special significance both doctrinal and cultural in early AmericaArchaeologists and historians still have many uestions about the design and function of outbuildings uestions that are often difficult to answer because of the ephemeral nature of these structures; they were not documented any than laundry ooms and storage units inspire hapsodies today Olmert's book deeply grounded in scholarship eminently eadable and profusely illustrated takes these buildings seriously and gives them the attention they deserve.

Michael Olmert Î 4 characters

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Ons There were absolutely no photographs of the Eighteenth Century outbuildings constructed by the English and Dutch Colonists in New York and New Jersey or by the EnglishGermanic and Swiss settlers of Pennsylvania nor was there anything written about these egions As a esource for Mid Atlantic architecture this book is an enormous disappointment and is not ecommended Had the book been marketed under a different title evealing its true content Outbuildings and the Architecture of Daily Life in the Eighteenth Century Tidewater Chesapeake Regions I would have given it a higher ating Unfortunately a greedy publisher attempting to appeal to a broader audience chose deception in sub titling this book If you are looking for a book on interesting outbuilding of Virginia and Maryland by all means buy this book However if you want a good book on the outbuildings of the Mid Atlantic Region this is not the book for you An Interesting ead Great for preservationists This book is extremely useful for anyone interested in the above or below ground emnants of 18th and 19th century tidewater plantations The eviewer above is correct this volume is most elevant to the southern sector of the Mid Atlantic As a bonus it s beautifully written Of the 101 illustrations 24 are of econstructions or fanciful estorations An additional 19 are stockposter shots ie Williamsburg Mount Vernon Monticello or tenuously connected historical engravings ie D er s St Jerome in his study Jean Baptist Greuze The Laundress Thirty five are of the estoration at Colonial Williamsburg Eighteen are of European originOf the 101 illustrations only four are documentary photos of unrestored interiors the laundry at Green Hill the privy at Bowman s Folly the privy at Westover and the dovecote at ShirleySome of the material is e cycled from Colonial Williamsburg magazine the entire book is written in the. H doves were aised for their eggs suab meat feathers and fertilizer Often these little buildings were clustered in such a way as to esemble a small village knit together by similar design details and building materials they were all constructed in weatherboards or in brick for instance or were arranged in a single file or positioned at the four corners of the yardIn this appealing book featuring nearly a hundred crisp black and white photographs Olmert explains how these well made buildings actually functioned He is iveted by the history of outbuildings their architecture patterns of use folklore and even the.