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Place-based Essays

Essays in SAH Archipedia are broadly grouped as either place-based or thematic. Place-based essays include overviews of architecture in specific U.S. states and cities. Thematic essays examine architectural and urban issues within and across state and regional boundaries. Like individual building entries, essays are accompanied by rich subject metadata, so you can browse them by style, type, and period. SAH Archipedia essays are comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship (born-digital and print-based) contributed by architectural historians nationwide.

Charles Town

By: S. Allen Chambers Jr.

Charles Washington, George's youngest full brother, established Charles Town in January 1787 on eighty acres taken from his extensive land holdings. In an unusual clause, the Virginia legislature let him plat the half-acre lots “in such manner as he may judge best.” In...

Charles Town Vicinity

By: S. Allen Chambers Jr.

Most of the Washington family houses are west and southwest of Charles Town. All are privately owned, but are easily seen from public roads. Except for Harewood, none has received serious architectural study, although all have been the subject of antiquarian interest...


By: S. Allen Chambers Jr.

Civil War artist James Taylor made several sketches here, noting that “the roadway was narrow with time-worn houses of stone, brick and wood.” In 1941 the WPA guide called Middleway “a quiet village with aging gable-roofed buildings of white-washed stone, faded brick, or logs,...


By: S. Allen Chambers Jr.

Shepherdstown is one of the two earliest towns in West Virginia. On December 23, 1762, the Virginia General Assembly established Mecklenburg, as it was first called, and Romney. Shepherdstown claims primacy because Germans from Pennsylvania had established a settlement on...

Harpers Ferry

By: S. Allen Chambers Jr.

Harpers Ferry, at the easternmost point of West Virginia, is the state's most famous town, thanks to a short-lived but seminal event, John Brown's October 1859 raid to capture the United States Armory. Although Brown's attempt failed, the armory was destroyed early in the...

Lower Town

By: S. Allen Chambers Jr.

Harpers Ferry's steep, picturesque site precluded any sort of grid plan. The Lower Town, at the tip of the peninsula, consists of Shenandoah and Potomac streets, paralleling the river for which each is named, and High, or Washington, Street. Washington intersects...

Upper Town

By: S. Allen Chambers Jr.

The Upper Town is also known as Camp Hill, for an encampment of army troops in 1799. Reached via High Street, it contains a cluster of mid-nineteenth-century houses erected for the upper echelons of the armory hierarchy. After the Civil War, Congress exempted these...


By: Mary M. Humstone

When one thinks of Wyoming, buildings are not the first images that come to mind. The state is known more for its majestic mountain ranges and seemingly endless expanses of sagebrush prairie than for its architectural monuments. With less than 600,000 residents occupying an area of 97,000 square miles...