When Apple chief Steve Jobs demolished his architecturally significant, George Washington Smith-designed house in February, preservationists despaired. The publication of a new book, The California House (Rizzoli New York, $60), will no doubt raise their spirits—and encourage more respect for historic California design.

Compiled and written by Kathryn Masson, the book examines 20 residences built in California from the 1830s through the 1920s. Masson’s preface teams with a foreword by Robert Winter and an introduction by Lauren Bricker to provide useful background information on the architectural styles highlighted in the book: Adobe, Craftsman, Victorian, and Spanish Colonial Revival. The designers of the chosen homes represent an eclectic mix of prominent names (Smith, Bernard Maybeck, Greene & Greene) and lesser-known architects such as Roland E. Coate Sr., whose William D. Edwards house in San Marino, Calif., is highlighted.

"Climate, culture, and landscape—these are the three factors that most directly influenced the California house through the mid-twentieth century," writes Bricker in her introduction. The book’s well-researched text acknowledges this intertwined role of nature and culture in creating the featured houses. And its detailed photos showcase not only the architecture but also the homes’ interior and landscape design. The California House serves as an essential guide to an important era in California residential architecture.