Traditional Appalachian Architecture


Americans today, “spend up to 90% of their time indoors” (Worldwatch Paper 124). Living spaces are often extensions and definitions of the people who inhabit those spaces. The Wilkinson home, built of logs just inside the Watagua County line near Trade, Tennessee in 1760, allows the observer today an unparalleled insight into the life of that frontier settler. Architecture serves as a basis for personal and impersonal expression as individuals and communities; this pathfinder is designed to allow the user to follow the progression of vernacular architecture in the Southern Appalachian Region from frontier cabin to turn of the century farmhouse.

Introductory Text: 

Glassie, Henry. Vernacular Architecture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
2000. ASU Main Stacks NA 208. G59 2000

Glassie, Henry. “The Types of Southern Mountain Cabins.” The Study of
American Folklore. Edited by Jan Brunvend. Pp. 338-70. New York: W.W. Norton
& Co., 1968. ASU APP COLL GR 105. B7 1968

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

More Relevant:

  • Architecture, Domestic
  • Architecture, Domestic – United States
  • Architecture, Domestic – United States – History
  • Architecture, Domestic – By State
  • Architecture – United States – 19th Century
  • Folk Architecture
  • Material Culture
  • Log Buildings – United States
  • Log Buildings – By State
  • Mountain Whites Southern States Material Culture

Less Relevant:

  • Vernacular Architecture
  • Vernacular Architecture – United States
  • Vernacular Architecture – Periodicals
  • Vernacular Architecture – United States – Periodicals
  • Vernacular Architecture – Appalachian Region, Southern – Social Aspects
  • Vernacular Architecture – Dictionaries
  • Vernacular Architecture – By State
  • Dwellings – Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Dwellings – By State
  • Folklore – United States

Glassie, Henry. Vernacular Architecture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
2000. ASU Main Stacks NA 208. G59 2000

Glassie, Henry. Folk Housing in Middle Virginia: A Structural Analysis of
Historical Artifacts. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1975. ASU APP
COLL NA 7235. N8

Heath, Kingston, Wm. Vernacular Architecture and Regional Design: Cultural Process and Environmental Response. Amsterdam; Boston; London: Architectural Press, 2009

Jordan, Terry G. American Log Building: An Old World Heritage. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1985. ASU MAIN STACKS TH 4840. V5 G55

Rehder, John B. Appalachian Folkways. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004. ASU APP COLL GR108 .R48 2004

Swain, Douglas. Carolina Dwellings: Towards A Preservation of Place. Raleigh:
Student Publications of the School of Design. 1976. V. 26. ASU APP COLL NA
7235. N8

Swain, Douglas. Cabins and Castles: The History and Architecture of Buncombe
County, North Carolina. Asheville Historic Resources Commission of Asheville
and Buncombe County, 1981. ASU APP COLL GT 225. N8 W55 1991

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Carley, Rachel illustrated by Ray Skibinski and Ed Lam. The Visual Dictionary of
American Domestic Architecture. New York: Henry Holt and Co. 1994 1st ed. Pg 108-134. ASU MAIN STACKS NA 7205. C27 1994

Madden, Diane Ed. All About Old Buildings: The Whole Preservation Catalog.
National Trust for Historic Preservation. Washington DC: The Preservation Press.1985. pg 110-199. ASU MAIN STACKS NA 106. A 44 1985

Williams, Henry Lionel and Ottalie K. Williams. A Guide to Old American Houses
1700-1900. New York: A.S. Barnes and Company, Inc. 1962. Pg 55-89. ASU MAIN STACKS NA 7205. W5

Gothfried, Herbert and Jan Jennings. American Vernacular Design 1870-1940:
An Illustrated Glossary. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. 1985. Pg 44-137. ASU MAIN STACKS NA 710. G68 1985

American Folk Architecture: A Selected Bibliography. American Folklife Center,
Library of Congress. Washington DC: American Folklife Center Library of
Congress. 1981. Pg. 99-145. ASU APP COLL Z 1251. A7A6

Appalachian Bibliography. Morgantown, W.VA: West Virginia University Library,
1972 (2 Vols.). ASU APP COLL STACKS Z1251 .A7 A6.

Appalachian Outlook. A periodic bibliography. Morgantown, W.VA: West
Virginia University Library, No. 1, 1964 to present. ASU APP COLL STACKS
Z1251 .A7 A55. (Note: Appalachian Outlook is a supplement to the Appalachian

Abstracts and Indices: 

America: Life and History
Arts and Humanities Search
Educational Resource Information Center (ERIC)
Infotrac General Reference Center Gold
Infotrac Expanded Academic ASAP Plus
Sociology Abstracts (SocAbs)
Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS)


Wells, Camille Ed. Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture. Columbia, Missouri:
University of Missouri Press, 1986. ASU APP COLL NA 705. P472 V. 2

Buildings and Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.
Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press 2007-. Online access.


Digital Library of Appalachia has a historical survey of log structures.

History Channel Site has video clips of how a cabin is built.

Blue Mountain Builders examples of traditional craftsmanship

Other Sources: 

Horning, Audrey. Material Culture and the Folk Mountain Image: Archaeological
Investigations in Virginia’s Blue Ridge; Work in Progress. Harrisonburg, VA:
Shenandoah Valley Regional Studies Seminar, James Madison University 1996.
ASU APP COLL F 232. S5 S52 1996

Mould, David. The Barn Builders: Pennsylvania Settlers in Ohio. Athens,
Ohio: Ohio Landscape Productions, c1989. ASU APP COLL VIDEO VC 355

Mould, David. Saltboxes and Schools: The New England Landscape of
Southeastern Ohio. Athens, Ohio: Ohio Landscape Productions, c1987 ASU

Mould, David. Log Cabins and Castles: Virginia Settlers in Ohio. Athens,
Ohio: Ohio Landscape Productions, c1991 ASU APP COLL VIDEO VC 357

Compiled by: 

Jacob Altemus, 14 December 2002

Updated by: 

Rebekah Epling, 6 October 2010