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peter joel harrison

“Peter Joel Harrison’s books are great tools… a wonderful record…that might otherwise have been lost. For this, architects and designers will thank Harrison.” Period Homes

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About the author Peter Joel Harrison:

A designer of interiors and landscapes, Peter Joel Harrison is dedicated to documenting architectural details of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. His drawings have been published in numerous magazines, including Old House Journal, This Old House, Bob Vila's American Home, American Home Style & Gardening, House Beautiful, Cape Cod Life, Early American Life, Garden Design, and Landscape Architecture.

His work was a valued source for the Warner Brothers' picture The Bridges of Madison County, and is part of many fine libraries, including Buckingham Palace.

In 1979, Peter Joel Harrison moved with his wife from New York City to Raleigh, North Carolina, to start a family. "We bought a lovely two-story white colonial with black shutters." Harrison realized his new home needed a fence. As it was a colonial house, it needed a colonial fence. As a designer, it was important to him that the yard fit the style of the house, which meant finding books that would illustrate American colonial landscapes.

"Simple," Harrison thought. Off to the local bookshops: NO BOOK. The local libraries: again, NO BOOK. Undaunted and in much need he went to the state university library where they taught Landscape Architecture. There, Harrison found two books written about the history and theory of American landscaping; but he didn't need words, he needed illustrations.

"I had to build a fence. My wife was now pregnant. I drove to Colonial Williamsburg and visited the Foundation's library; again finding nothing printed that illustrated the pictorial details I needed."

It was now quite clear to him that no one had ever documented these important American details. He went out to the restoration and photographed everything he saw. For twelve years, with a zeal bordering on compulsion, Peter Joel Harrison scouted out historic sites, viewing over 549 from Maine to Georgia.

"Pretty soon I had boxes of pictures. They were stacked to the ceiling, hundreds of them. One evening in early August 1992 I went out with the dog to walk and pray."

It came to Harrison that perhaps he could create the missing pattern books he had so longed for and needed. "In the warm months, I traveled. In the winter, I drew." And he continues to do so.

Back to Harrison's writing process