American home icon

Catherine Beecher's American Home

Paula Petrik , Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University


  1. Using the first picture, answer the following:
    1. Where is the house located?
    2. How big is the house?
    3. What are the most significant features of the house and its lot?
    4. What are the figures doing in the picture?
  2. Look at the second picture and answer the following:
    1. What is a conservatory?
    2. What is a piazza?
    3. What furniture is in the drawing room?
    4. What occupies the center of the house?
    5. What is the function of the moveable screen?
    6. What is the purpose of the recess?
    7. What seems to be missing?
  3. The Beechers described their houseplan as “what may be properly called a Christian house; that is a house contrived for the express purpose of enabling every member of a family to labor with the hands for the common good, and by modes at once healthful, economical, and tasteful.” How do the sketch and floorplan illustrate their conceptualization of the “Christian house?”
  4. How does the plan for the American home illustrate the ideology of the “cult of domesticity?”

Last Updated | April 2004