The Builder’s Companion: A 1931 Guide to Classically Beautiful Architecture

Colonial architecture diagrams stairs

Buildings certainly aren’t made like they used to be. Not so long ago, many hours of craftsmanship produced high quality, finely detailed structures that stood the test of time, many still standing proud decades or even centuries later. Today, it’s much rarer to find new construction made to the same standards, and some of these arts are in decline.

Colonial architecture, in particular, represents some of the most beautiful architecture ever built in the United States. From Maine all the way down the East Coast to South Carolina, this style in its various incarnations has produced dignified buildings of pleasing proportions, restrained ornamentation and lots of character.

Colonial architecture diagrams columns

If you’re a fan of this historic style, NeLMA’s White Pine Monograph Library is a wonderful resource. Whether you’re a builder or craftsman looking to uphold these traditions or just curious about how things were built back then, the library is full of original publications dating back to 1915. Architects and preservationists of the early 20th century explored colonial architecture around the country, much of which was made of Eastern White Pine, documenting it in photographs, drawings and descriptions.

Colonial architecture diagrams millwork trim

Among them are a pair of 1931 issues called “The Builder’s Companion” parts 1 and 2, a reprint of a handbook by architect William Pain originally written in 1762. In them, you’ll find fascinating diagrams of architectural elements like columns, doors, gate piers, decorative millwork and more, just as they would have been designed and built by colonial-era architects. And, as always, the nearly 100-year-old advertisements in the monographs are fun to read, too!

Check them all out at the White Pine Monograph Library.