Wallfare

“GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS,” wrote Robert Frost. But he may have been closer to the mark with another line: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”

A rich variety of fences is one of the many charms of the American landscape: the wooden rail fence of the rural Midwest and South and the picket fence of the town, crude barbed wire surrounding prairie fields and ornate iron palings protecting village lawns, the New England stone wall running through abandoned farmland grown back to forest and the chain-link barrier screening weed-infested lots in the downtown fringe. Another classic American type is defined not by form but by function.Read more »

Less Work For Mother?

Modern technology enables the housewife to do much more in the house than ever before. That’s good- and not so good.

Things are seldom what they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream. And laborsavine household appliances often do not save labor. This is the surprising conclusion reached by a small army of historians, sociologists, and home economists who have undertaken, in recent years, to study the one form of work that has turned out to be most resistant to inquiry and analysis—namely, housework.

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Good Fences

The first settlers marked the borders of their lives with simple fences that grew ever more elaborate over the centuries

Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote Robert Frost, and he meant that fences did more than just enclose space; like his woods and roads, they bounded a social and psychological landscape. That fences also form a kind of historical document is suggested by the photographs on these pages. Read more »

The Fuller Brush Man

Connoisseurs have long regarded him as the master of cold-turkey peddling. He’s been at it for eighty years.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, a doorbell would ring almost anywhere in America, a housewife would run to answer it, and there would stand a wellgroomed, smiling gentleman. “I’m your Fuller Brush Man,” he would say, stepping back deferentially. “And I have a gift for you.” It was the famous Handy Brush. “I’ll just step in a moment,” he would go on, scooping up his sample case and kicking off his rubbers (which were, by intention, bought a size too large so they would slip off easily).Read more »

The Impeccable Gardener

Beatrix Farrand’s exactingly beautiful designs changed the American landscape

When Beatrix Farrand arrived to work on a garden, clients knew they were in the presence of someone extraordinary. Friends called her Queen Elizabeth, and she sat regally swathed in lap robes, dressed primly in English tweeds, as her chauffeur guided the Fierce-Arrow touring car up the drive. In the twenties and thirties a garden by Farrand was believed to open social doors for its owner, and the people who hired her—people with such names as J. P. Morgan, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Mr. Edward Whitney, Mrs.Read more »

Past Masters

Israel Sack made a fortune by seeing early the craft in fine old American furniture

To a casual passerby on East Fifty-seventh Street in Midtown Manhattan, No. 15 looks like any other small, wellkept building. On the main floor is an antique-silver shop. Above it on the third and fourth floors are windows with blinds pulled shut behind them, and across each window in gilt Gothic lettering there appears simply a name, Israel Sack, Inc. Although behind those upper-story windows is the oldest and most prestigious dealer in American antiques, nothing gives that information away. The name on the building is enough.Read more »

The Lawn America’s Greatest Architectural Achievement

In designing, the University of Virginia, Jefferson sought not only to educate young men for leadership, but to bring aesthetic maturity to the new nation

ALTHOUGH THOMAS JEFFERSON had evolved very clear concepts of what a modern educational system should be, it was not until 1817 that he had the opportunity to put his theories into practice at Charlottesville, Virginia. He was an old man by then, but there was nothing old-fashioned about his ideas. Age and experience had given him a majestic perspective, not merely of education but of American culture as a whole. Read more »

The Day Before Hollywood

It was a suburb of orange blossoms and gardens, of gracious homes and quiet, dignified lives—until a regrettable class of people moved in.

THE IDEA OF HOLLYWOOD as a boomtown would not have surprised those who lived there as this century began, for they worked hard toward that very ideal. But they would have been astounded and dismayed had they foreseen the kind of boomtown it was destined to become. Read more »

Decking Columbia’s Walls

War, patriotism, nature, and changing taste— all have been mirrored in our wallpaper

When George Washington visited Boston in 1789, the new President received a tumultuous greeting. Among the bands of tradesmen who rallied to parade—all patriotically urging the spectators to buy American—was a contingent of local wallpaper printers, bearing a banner emblazoned with the exhortation: “May the fair daughters of Columbia deck them- 4 selves and their walls with J our own manufactures. ” Read more »