Second Empire Mansard Roof

The Mansard roof form is what turns an Italianate style house into a Second Empire style house – they share stylistic features other than the roof form. The nearly vertical lower slope of the Mansard roof often features patterned slate or wood shingles, sometimes in multiple colors.

This example is monochromatic, with subtle patterning in gray/black slate. Elaborate dormer windows are often found on Mansard roofs and this one is no exception. Note the rust stains and moss along the lower part of the roof – clear evidence that the flashing at the edge of the upper roof has lost its paint and is failing. Further evidence of this can be seen at the upper left, where water damage to the paint and wood trim is visible. Hopefully this fabulous roof will get the care it needs before water infiltration causes much more significant damage. Water is the enemy of buildings.

Roofing is covered in depth in Chapter 11 of Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners. The 720-page hardcover book was released in December and has been enthusiastically embraced by old house lovers across the country. It is available in bookstores nationwide and through online retailers (it is currently 34% off list price on Amazon!). Signed copies are available directly from the author on this site.

Your local bookstore can order copies from their W.W. Norton rep.

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