This book celebrates one of the richest and most enduring themes in American architecture—California's Arts and Crafts Movement. Echoing the writings of Helen Hunt Jackson, Charles F. Lummis, and Charles Keeler, this movement represented a retreat into a quieter place from the materialism of American society. Anti-commercial, anti-modern, Arts and Crafts practitioners drew on the decorative schemes of English Tudor, Swiss chalet, Japanese temple, and Spanish mission, evoking an earlier time before modern industry and technology intruded. And if only one word is used to describe virtually every Arts and Crafts house in California, that word is "woodsy": wood shingles outside, wood paneling inside, a wood fire burning in the homey, welcoming fireplace.
Most chapters in this impressive and very readable book focus on one building by a particular architect or designer and illustrate that person's development and influences. Familiar architects such as Bernard Maybeck, Charles and Henry Greene, John Galen Howard, and Julia Morgan are here, but so too are less well-known names who were a vibrant part of the Arts and Crafts Movement. These late Romantics designed houses to complement nature rather than contrast with it. Their eclecticism and historicism reflected a Romantic bent as well, no doubt cultivated by their familiarity with the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where, in fact, Howard, Maybeck, and Morgan studied.
The book's contributors also give attention to the builders, contractors, and craftsmen whose skills contributed to the lasting impact of the California Arts and Crafts Movement. Superb illustrations provide examples of elevations, composition details, interior fixtures, and gardens, all designed to promote the "simple living and high thinking" of the Craftsman style, an esthetic that continues to influence architecture today.