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Allen Penney

Halifax, Nova Scotia Museum Complex, 1989. 146pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-88780-072-6
A co-publication of Formac Publishing Co. Ltd. and the Nova Scotia Museum. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

As a born and bred Haligonian I grew up aware that the architecture of my city, indeed my province, was note­worthy and unique. Until I read Houses of Nova Scotia, however, I was never really sure why.

Allen Penney has cleverly combined education with practicality in his 145-page book. While informative and quite comprehensive, the book is designed primarily to be used as a field guide. Even its size makes for easy portability and reference.

Information in the book is based on Penney's study of 5,000 Nova Scotian homes, or roughly two per cent of the province's houses. Most of these, he points out in his introduction, are early homes and some will be difficult for house watchers to find. Each architec­tural style - and there are forty of these in the book - is briefly described, given an approximate age range, and illus­trated with small black-ink line draw­ings. Included among the styles exam­ined by Penney are Acadian, Queen Anne Revival, Shingle, Art Moderne, Hydrostone, World War II Prefabri­cated, Ecology, Nova Scotia Vernacular and Log.

In addition to providing the archi­tectural styles themselves, Penney includes a section on how to use the book, a discussion of architectural style itself, a glossary, and a guide to build­ings that includes information on everything from doors to elevation to form.

As a field guide Houses of Nova Scotia provides the basic information house watchers need to understand the archi­tecture they're looking at. But, unlike field guides for bird watchers, this guide does not illustrate the architecture as clearly as necessary. This is the book's one flaw. Colour is an expensive option, but the black-and-white line drawings should have been enlarged for easier reference. As they are now, it takes a good pair of eyes (or a magnify­ing glass) to view the illustrations.

The eye strain, however, is worth the effort.

donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, N.S.
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