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Victorian Gothic House Styles: History and Pictures


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A Gothic Pretender: The Wedding Cake House
The Wedding Cake House, Kennebunk, Maine

The Wedding Cake House, 105 Summer Street, Kennebunk, Maine

Photo © Jackie Craven

The "Wedding Cake House" in Kennebunk, Maine is one of the most photographed Gothic Revival buildings in the United States. And yet, it is not technically Gothic at all.

At first glance, the house may look Gothic. It is lavished with carved buttresses, spires, and lacy spandrels. However, these details are merely frosting, applied to the facade of a refined brick home in the Federal style. Paired chimneys flank a low, hipped roof. Five windows form an orderly row along the second story. At the center (behind the buttress) is a traditional Palladian window.

The austere brick house was originally built in 1826 by a local shipbuilder. In 1852, after a fire, he got creative and fancied up the house with Gothic frills. He added a carriage house and barn to match. So it happened that in a single home two very different philosophies merged:

  • Orderly, classical ideals - Appealing to the intellect
  • Fanciful, romantic ideals - Appealing to the emotions
Next: Decline of the Gothic Style >>
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