Richard Longstreth

Richard Longstreth picture

Richard Longstreth

Professor of American Civilization


Office Phone: (202) 994-6098
2108 G Street, Room 202

Richard Longstreth is Professor of American Studies. After receiving his A.B. in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in architectural history from the University of California, Berkeley, he worked for the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission and taught at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture and Design before joining the GW faculty in 1983.

Paralleling his academic responsibilities, Professor Longstreth’s professional interests lie in two, complementary realms. As a scholar, he has written extensively on the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture in the U.S. In recent years, his research has focused on a variety of topics related to mid-twentieth-century architecture, urbanism, and landscape, as is reflected in his most recent book, Looking Beyond the Icons (2014). He is also editor of a University of Virginia Press series that is devoted to the topic. Earlier he examined many aspects of retail development in major metropolitan areas, relating economic, design, urbanistic, and cultural factors that have fundamentally reshaped the American landscape since 1920. The latest of these studies, The American Department Store Transformed, 1920-1960 (Yale) was published in 2010. His City Center to Regional Mall (1997) and The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space (1999) (MIT) won four national awards in the fields of architectural history, urban history, and historic preservation. He has edited six books, contributed chapters to numerous others. Currently he is examining the post-eighteenth-century history of Fort Ticonderoga as a historical shrine, first as a ruin and subsequently as the first major historical reconstruction in North America.

Professor Longstreth has also been involved in the preservation field at the national, state, and local levels and in the public and private sectors. Since 1984 he has taken an active role in Washington-area initiatives. Testimony he gave on a few of these cases is being published in a case-study book by the National Park Service and National Council for Preservation Education in 1997. Much of his other writing on the subject has addressed preserving the recent past. He has figured prominently in efforts to save numerous mid-twentieth-century sites, locally and nationally.

Professor Longstreth has served as president of the Society of Architectural Historians (1998-2000), president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (2013-15), first vice president of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (1989-1991), trustee of the National Building Museum (1988-1994), board member of Preservation Action (1980-1995), Adirondack Architectural heritage (1998-2010), the Fort Ticonderoga Association (2007-13), and of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (1994-1998). He was a member of the National Historic Landmarks Advisory Group (1989-1994). Currently he chairs the Maryland Governor's Consulting Committee on the National Register of Historic Places. Recently he received an Award of Excellence for Architectural Scholarship and Preservation Advocacy from the Society of Architectural Historians, of which he is a Fellow..

Professor Richard Longstreth won a 2015 award for Architectural Scholarship and Preservation Advocacy from the Society of Architectural Historians. He is one of three honorees for the SAH's 2015 Awards. The award recognizes individual, unique contributions to architectural practice and study. Read more

Professor Longstreth also won the 2015 Essay Prize from the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians for his essay, "The Continuous Transformation of Savannah's Broughton Street." The award recognizes excellent analysis of Southern architecture along with broader contributions to the field of architectural history. 

American architecture, historic preservation

A Guide to the Architecture of the Adirondacks, Keeseville, N.Y.: Adirondack Architectural Heritage, and Jay, N.Y., 2017

Road Trip, New York: Universe, 2015 (a collection of 200 Kodachrome images taken by me during the early 1970s of roadside architecture in the U.S.)

Looking Beyond the Icons: A Legacy of Architecture and Landscape from the Recent Past, University of Virginia Press, paperback ed., 2016

Frank Lloyd Wright: Preservation, Design, and Adding to Iconic Buildings Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014, editor

The American Department Store Transformed, 1920-1960, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010

Sustainability and Historic Preservation: Towards a Holistic View, Newark: University of Delaware Press, and Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011, editor

Housing Washington: Two Centuries of Tradition and Innovation in the National Capital Region, Staunton, Virginia: Center for American Places, and Chicago: University of  Chicago Press, 2010, editor

Cultural Landscapes: Balancing Nature and Heritage in Preservation Practice, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008, editor

The Charnley House: Sullivan and Wright on Chicago’s Gold Coast, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, editor

The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, 1914-1941, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999

City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles, 1920-1950, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997

History on the Line: Testimony in the Cause of Preservation, Washington: National Park Service, and Ithaca, N.Y.: National Council for Preservation Education, 1997

The Mall in Washington, 1791-1991, 1991; reprint ed., New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, editor

The Buildings of Main Street: A Guide to American Commercial Architecture, 1987; reprint ed., Walnut Creek, Calif.: Alta Mira Press, 2000

On the Edge of the World: Four Architects in San Francisco at the Turn of the Century, 1983; reprint ed., Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998

Articles in APT Bulletin, Architectural Record, Arris, Buildings & Landscapes, City & Society, CRM Journal, Harvard Architecture Review, Historic Preservation Forum, Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Journal of Urban History, Perspecta, and Winterthur Portfolio

PhD, U. California @ Berkeley, 1977

full cv