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Second Empire Architecture: History and Photos

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Victorian Homes in the Second Empire Style
Victorian Second Empire home in Massachusetts

Victorian Second Empire home in Massachusetts

Photo © Jim Plumb / iStockPhoto
With tall mansard roofs and wrought iron cresting, Victorian Second Empire homes create a sense of height. But, despite its regal name, a Second Empire isn't always elaborate or lofty. So, how do you recognize the style? Look for these features:
  • Mansard roof
  • Dormer windows project like eyebrows from roof
  • Rounded cornices at top and base of roof
  • Brackets beneath the eaves, balconies, and bay windows
Many Second Empire homes also have these features:
  • Cupola
  • Patterned slate on roof
  • Wrought iron cresting above upper cornice
  • Classical pediments
  • Paired columns
  • Tall windows on first story
  • Small entry porch
Next: Is it Second Empire or Italianate?

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