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Chapter 7. Folk and Popular Culture: Diversity and Uniformity Folk Cultural Diversity and Regionalism Anglo American Hearths Folk Building Traditions Architectural Diffusions Folk Fencing in Anglo America Nonmaterial Folk Culture Folk Cultural Regions of Eastern United States

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Chapter 7

Folk and Popular Culture: Diversity and Uniformity

Folk Cultural Diversity and Regionalism

Anglo American Hearths

Folk Building Traditions

Architectural Diffusions

Folk Fencing in Anglo America

Nonmaterial Folk Culture

Folk Cultural Regions of Eastern United States

The Passing of Folk Cultural Regionalism

Patterns of Popular Culture

National Uniformities and Globalization


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Buggies Outside of Amish School House

Figure 7.2a

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Source: Courtesy of Jean Fellmann


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Distributions of Old Order Amish

Figure 7.2b

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Source: Redrawn by permission from Annals of the Association of American Geographers, William K. Crowley, vol. 68, p. 262, Association of American Geographers, 1978.


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Early Anglo American Culture Hearths

Figure 7.4

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Source: Based on Allen G. Noble, Wood, Brick, and Stone, vol. 1, (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984); and Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Richard Pillsbury, vol. 60, p. 446, Association of American Geographers, 1970.


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Stone House of Nepal

Figure 7.7a

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Source: Courtesy, Colin E. Thorn.


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Icelandic Sod Farm House

Figure 7.7b

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Source: Courtesy, Colin E. Thorn.


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The “Arc of French Settlement” – 1750

Figure 7.8

Source: Based on Cole Harris, “French Landscapes in North America,” in The Making of the American Landscape, ed. Michael P. Conzen ( Boston Unwin Hyman, 1990), Fig. 4.1, p 66; and R. Cole Harris, Historical Atlas of Canada, vol 1, From the Beginning to 1800 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), Plate 40.

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The Norman Cottage

Figure 7.9a

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Source: Courtesy of John A. Jakle


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The Quebec Cottage

Figure 7.9b

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Source: Courtesy of John A. Jakle


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The Montreal House

Figure 7.9c

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Source: Courtesy of John A. Jakle


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The Saltbox House

Figure 7.10b

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Source: Courtesy of John A. Jakle


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Georgian-Style New England House

Figure 7.10c

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Source: Copyright Susan Reisenweaver


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An Upright-and-Wing House

Figure 7.10d

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Source: Courtesy of John A. Jakle


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Four-Over-Four House

Figure 7.11a

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Source: Courtesy of John A. Jakle


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The Classic I House

Figure 7.11b

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Source: Copyright Susan Reisenweaver


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The Charleston Single House

Figure 7.12

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Source: Copyright Sharon Wildman


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Shotgun Cottages in Mississippi

Figure 7.13a

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Source: Courtesy of John A. Jakle


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Architectural Diffusions

Figure 7.14

Source: F. Kniffen Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 55:560, 1965; Fred Kniffen and Henry Glassie, “Building in Wood in the Eastern United States” in Geographical Review 56:60, © 1966 The American Geographical Society; and Terry G. Jordan and Matti Kaups, The American Backwoods Frontier, pp. 8-9, © 1989 The Johns Hopkins University Press.

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The “Dogtrot” House

Figure 7.15a

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Source: Copyright Susan Reisenweaver


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A Buck Fence

Figure 7.16a

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Source: Copyright Susan Reisenweaver


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A Wattle or Woven Fence

Figure 7.16b

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Source: Copyright Susan Reisenweaver


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The Angled-Rail/Snake Fence

Figure 7.16c

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Source: Copyright Susan Reisenweaver


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A Post-and-Rail Fence

Figure 7.16d

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Source: Copyright Jared Fellmann


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Southward Shift of White Spirituals

Figure 7.21

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Source: Reproduced by permission of the American Folklore Society from Journal of American Folklore 65:258, October-December, 1952. Not for further reproduction.


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Culture Hearths & Diffusions

Figure 7.22

Source: Based on Henry Glassie, Pattern in the Material Folk Culture of the Eastern United States, pp. 37-38, Copyright ©1968 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania; and Michael P. Conzen, ed., The Making of American Landscape (Winchester, Mass.: Unwin Hyman, 1990), 373.

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Norman Cottage

Norman Cottage Identical in form to houses still found in northwestern France, the Norman cottage was imported to the New World by French settlers of the Lower St. Lawrence Valley. Markedly oblong in shape, much wider than they are deep front to back, Norman cottages were built with thick fieldstone walls, mortared with lime, and whitewashed or frequently faced with boards for winter protection. The distinguishing characteristic of the Norman cottage is the immense, steeply-pitched hip roof with “bell-cast” eaves to deflect water from the walls and foundation. In Quebec, the steep pitch of the wooden roof reflected the thatched original of the French homeland and served to shed the snow load received in the New World rather than the rainfall more common in the homeland.

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Quebec Cottage

Quebec Cottage The Quebec cottage—like the Norman cottage—is an imported French vernacular house type widely encountered in the St. Lawrence Valley. Undergoing continual design evolution, its persistent features include gable end walls, a steeply pitched roof, pronounced bell-cast eaves, and a more compact ground plan than the Norman cottage. A porch or galerie (gallery)—perhaps a French West Indies import—completes its exterior design. The floor plan usually showed two rooms of unequal size. The larger often contained two small unheated bedrooms along its outside wall. The smaller room, displaying an immense fireplace, served as kitchen and held both the outside house doors and a narrow staircase to the loft above. Early versions had but a single chimney serving a fire-chamber with one or two hearths. Later, two chimneys located inside but near the gable walls became usual. Exteriors of this still-common house type may be of whitewashed stone rubble, of sawn lumber over a timber frame, or of logs.

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Montreal House

Montreal House This third early French Canadian house type is found primarily in the Upper St. Lawrence Valley and is associated more with the crowded city where it developed than with the open rural sites to which it later spread. The Montreal house is relatively deep, giving a more massive appearance than the Norman or Quebec cottages. It is distinguished particularly by its large, heavy stone gables that typically contain double-flued chimneys carried well above the roofline as a precaution against the spread of roof fires. Typically built of stone, the Montreal house usually contained two rows of rooms in front and rear with no recurring pattern of room arrangement or interior door placement.

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Cape Cod Cottage

Cape Cod Cottage A version of a common medieval English rural house, the Cape Cod cottage was among the earliest small home designs erected in the New England colonies. Originally with but a single downstairs room, the floor plan later was expanded to three rooms served by a massive central chimney with three hearths—two for heating only and the rear-facing hearth serving as a cooking area for the elongated rear kitchen. Sitting low to the ground, the nearly square Cape Cod features a steeply pitched shingled roof with gable ends, eaves only 5 to 7 feet above the ground, a weathered-shingle exterior, and casement windows.

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Saltbox House

Saltbox House A New England creation, the saltbox house provided a way to expand a small dwelling to accommodate growing family and workplace needs. A rear addition to the one-and-a-half story Cape Cod raised its height slightly, and created the asymmetrical gable roof that identifies the saltbox design. In ground plan it also followed the Cape Cod, adding two rooms to the rear—one a kitchen pantry or storage area, the other a bedroom. The low-ceilinged upper floor held two unheated rooms lighted by usually small-sized windows.

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New England Large House

New England Large House Also called the central-chimney colonial house, this dwelling features a saltbox house floor plan—with the lobby entrance facing a central chimney and with smaller rooms in back. Called a New England response to Classical Revivalism, the New England large house presents a balance of all external elements. Its gable roof is symmetrical in side profile, its chimney exactly centered, its main door in the precise middle of the façade, and the windows all of equal size and evenly placed. The upper story floor plan of this squarish house is a rough duplicate of the first-floor layout.

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Four-Over-Four House

Four–Over–Four House A product of Delaware Valley vernacular house evolution, the two- or two-and-a-half-story four-over-four house is named after its basic room arrangement. Most 18th- and 19th-century versions showed paired rooms on either side of a central hallway on both floors. Although chimney placement varies, paired gable-end chimneys are most typical. The house is nearly square, and its height from ground to eaves is equal to the depth of the structure. Embodying Georgian-style influences, the four-over-four house underwent various external design modifications to enhance the regularity and balance of the façade.

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Hall-and-Parlor House

Hall–and–Parlor House The hall-and-parlor house is a product of the Chesapeake Bay hearth region that had its roots in the one-room, thatched-roof cottages or huts built by the first colonists. That simple dwelling design was elaborated into a one-floor hall-and-parlor cottage and, later, into the two-floor version. Both featured two rooms per floor. The smaller room was called the parlor and used as family or guest bedroom or formal reception room; the larger was the hall (reminiscent of the “Great Hall” of English manor house tradition) which combined kitchen, dining area, work room and family living space. It also usually held the outside house door and a corner stairway to the loft or second-floor sleeping quarters. Since each gable of the hall-and-parlor house contained a chimney, each room had a source of heat.

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I House The I house is essentially a hall-and-parlor house with an added central hallway serving a centrally located front door. That central hall, in turn, permitted the balancing of the exterior façade openings. In floor plan, the I house is two full stories high and one room deep, with single rooms on each side of the central hall. In its earlier versions, its gable roof held end chimneys. Carried into the Lower Midwest by settlers from Kentucky and Tennessee, the I house spread as an expression of both folk and popular culture throughout the eastern United States, frequently receiving locally popular ornamentation of Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, or Italianate design. No external embellishments altered the fundamental identity of the I house, however: side-facing gables, one-room depth, at least two-room width, and two full stories in height.

I House

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Charleston Single House

Charleston Single House This dwelling design derives from a French-inspired plantation house, with central block structure and attached lean–tos and porches. In the city environment, it was placed end side to the street, its entry usually reached by a graceful flight of iron-railed stairs. Its colonnaded “piazza”—holding the main entry of the house—overlooked a side garden and carried shade and breezes the length of the house. The usual design is three or four aligned rooms—including parlor, hall, and dining room—on each of its two or three stories. The design assures cross-ventilation in every room, an advantage in the hot, humid climate of its southeast coastal location. With galleries or piazzas repeated on the upper floors, the same light, airy attributes were carried throughout the structure.

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Grenier House

Grenier House Takings its name from the French word for its oversized loft, the grenier house and its local variants have also been called the Cajun cottage. In minimum form, the frame-constructed, cypress-sided, always galleried or porched grenier house had only one room and the loft, which served as sleeping quarters, usually for household males. Although never more than one room wide, in expanded form the grenier house might extend two, three, or even four rooms deep. Room doors were lined-up front to back to catch and carry breezes. The grenier house became the standard dwelling in rural French Louisiana, unmistakable in appearance since the porch was always integral to the house and roof line, never an added afterthought, and the grenier itself was projected over the porch or galerie. Floor plan variants included a commonly encountered two front room version, each room with an exterior door opening onto the galerie.

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Gable-Front House

Gable–Front House The two- or two-and-a-half-story gable-front house and its smaller one- or one-and-a-half-floor cottage variant became a standard Eastern U.S. house style of popular culture, rooted in both the New England folk cottage and the Southern bungalow. To those basic influences it added Greek Revival embellishments and a lot placement presenting the narrow, gable end of the structure to the street. An efficient use of expensive urban land, that turning of the house frontage required moving the main entrance to the narrow gable end and placing a hallway to one side. Floor plans were not standardized but usually featured two rooms in width and two or more rooms in depth. Greek Revival ornamentation, so common in 19th–century gable–fronts, included a low–pitched, front-gable roof, small-paned windows, a front-door surround containing narrow side lights, and a portico or recessed porch supported by Greek columns.

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Upright-and Wing (or Lazy T) House

Upright-and-Wing (or Lazy T) House Originating in Upstate New York and spread westward across the Upper Middle West, the upright-and-wing derived from a combination of the one-and-a-half- or two-story gable-front house and a traditional New England Classic cottage (itself a derivative in floor plan of the hall-and-parlor layout). Called by some a vernacular simplification of the formal Greek Revival house, it put the main part of the structure gable end to the road and the appended wing at right angles. Interior floor plans differed, but each section was usually self-contained with no rooms spanning the division line between them. In older models, the roofs were totally separate. Front doors were usually in the “wing,” the part often built first, with the grander upright following as family fortunes improved.

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Saddlebag House

Saddlebag House When expansion of the square, one-room (single-pen) log cabin was needed, common practice was to build a second pen set with its gable attached to the chimney end of the original structure. Such a “saddlebag cottage” produced a central-chimney dwelling, two rooms wide, one room deep, usually with two separate front doors often opening onto an attached porch. Widely duplicated in balloon frame construction in the 19th century, it was dispersed as a farm residence in both the Upper and Lower South. In its less common house version, with the addition of a second floor and an alteration in the interior design, it became part of the urban scene, but again only in the Southeast.

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Dogtrot House

Dogtrot House Another form of cabin expansion or new dwelling construction was to separate two single pens—each, perhaps, 16 feet (4.9 meters) square—by an open central hall, usually about one-half pen (8 feet; 2.4 meters) in width. The whole—two rooms and a central, open passage or “dog–trot”—was covered by a common gable roof. Chimneys are centered on the outside gables, and the roof was sometimes extended to enclose them as well as to cover a porch running the length of the front side of the house. Like the saddlebag cottage, the dogtrot dwelling was originally a variant of the log cabin and a part of the southeastern U.S. vernacular housing tradition.

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Spanish Adobe House

Spanish Adobe House From the middle of the 16th century through the early part of the 19th century, Spanish-Mexican dominance of the southwestern United States was complete. During that period, a unique regional architecture developed. It combined Spanish and Amerindian traditions and featured a flat-roofed, thick-walled, frequently courtyard-centered structure of adobe brick. The form was particularly well developed in New Mexico, where trees are scarce and the building material of Indian pueblos had long been mud. In their structures, Native Americans shaped walls in place, built up of layers of moistened clay, each sun dried before the next layer was added. The Spanish contributed adobe bricks, a mixture of clay, sand, and straw shaped in a wooden form, sun dried, and stacked. The entire structure was plastered with mud inside and out. Room width was determined by the length of the beams that could be cut—usually 12 to 15 feet (3.5 to 4.5 meters). The house could easily be expanded by adding beams and rooms in an elongation of the original structure.

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The End


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