Illustration: Tom Hennessy
American domestic architecture came into its own in the 20th century. Architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Greene & Greene, and Philip Johnson created true homegrown styles. But an equally important development never showed up on a blueprint — the preservation movement. Laws now protect the finest period neighborhoods, owners of old houses maintain their original facades even as they update interiors, and architects turn to the past for inspiration.

This desire to hold on to the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries ensures that future generations will experience American history in its most intimate form: the homes we lived in. From the simple log cabin brought over by Swedish settlers in the late 1600s to the sophisticated geometry of 20th-century modernists, the rich variety of homes reflects the melting pot of people and cultural influences that have shaped this country. "Each one of us has an ancestry, we have a genealogy — and so do houses," says John Milnes Baker, author of American House Styles. Next, a timeline of our architectural history.
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