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The Patina of Place the Cultural Weathering of a New England Industrial Landscape

by Kingston Wm Heath

  • ISBN: 9781572331389
  • ISBN10: 1572331380

The Patina of Place the Cultural Weathering of a New England Industrial Landscape

by Kingston Wm Heath

  • List Price: $55.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Edition: 1
  • Publisher: Univ of Tennessee Pr
  • Publish date: 12/01/2001
  • ISBN: 9781572331389
  • ISBN10: 1572331380
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Description: The Patina of Place offers a multidisciplinary analysis of workers' housing as an index to social change & cultural identity in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Kingston Heath discusses both the city's company-owned mill housing & the subsequent transition to a speculative building market that established the three-decker rental flat as the city's most common housing form for industrial workers. In the late nineteenth & early twentieth centuries, the booming textile industry turned many New England towns & villages into industrialized urban centers. This rapid urbanization transformed not only the economic base but also the regional identity of communities such as New Bedford as new housing forms emerged to accommodate the largely immigrant workforce of the mills. In particular, the wood-frame "three-decker" became the region's multifamily housing design of choice, resulting in a unique architectural form that is characteristic of New England. In The Patina of Place, Heath offers the first book-length analysis of the three-decker & its cultural significance, revealing New Bedford's evolving regional identity within New England. Using his concept of "cultural weathering" to explore the cultural imprints left by inhabitants on their built environment, Heath considers whether the three-decker is a generic type that could be transferred, unaltered, elsewhere. He concludes that the ethnic, economic, & geographic conditions of a locale serve as subregional filters that reshape the meaning, utility, & character of a building form, thereby making that form an integral & distinctive part of its community. Specifically, Heath shows how the three-decker was designed, built, & lived in, & then illustrates its transformation by later generations of residents following the collapse of the textile industry in the mid-1920s up to the present day. By the very nature of the discussion throughout the book, the author raises the question: What factors contribute to architectural relevance? Through his intensive study of the unique building form of the three-decker, Heath shows that architecture is not merely the product of individual creative expression or initial use; instead, he argues that architecture also has relevance when viewed as a collective social act. This view allows for a redefinition of a building type's identity, meaning, & importance over time. Thus, while The Patina of Place focuses on the three-decker in New Bedford, its overarching theme concerns the cultural, economic, & social complexities of place-making & the role that common people play in the creation of a region's identity.
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