To provide shelter is the most fundamental purpose of a building. Caves and trees, the lean-to, and the tent all figure in speculative genealogies of the house. Whether or not it was the first type of building to be erected, the house still holds first place for most of us in memory, in our nightly dreams, and in personal affection.The house is at once an object of universal yearnings (for security, comfort, prestige) and the site of the most intimate narratives in our lives.Through photographs, houses stir the historical imagination. A prairie cabin or a stately château, discovered in the family album, provides license to imagine one’s origins among pioneers or the aristocracy. A view of a cannon-torn house brings into the present the human costs of a war in the distant past.