A Favorite Second Empire

One of my favorite Second Empire style houses. The defining feature of a Second Empire style building is the Mansard roof, first used for an addition to the palace at the Louvre in Paris c. 1550. It got its name from 17th century French Baroque architect François Mansart. It became especially fashionable during the Second French Empire (1852–1870) of Napoléon III, which corresponded with the middle Victorian era in the English-speaking world.

Typically called a French roof in the U.S. during the 19th century, it was popular during a period when all things French (including the language) were “en vogue” for fashionable middle and upper class Americans. From the eave line down, Second Empire buildings are essential Italianate in style, but their roof gives them a different identity.

This beautiful example of the Second Empire style is located in Kennebunk, Maine and is shown in Chapter 2 of “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners” with other examples of the style spread across the USA. Homes from more than 22 states are included in the 720-page best selling hardcover book, available in bookstores and from online retailers.

Signed and personalized copies are available directly from the author at in the shop on this site, Shop – Your Historic House.

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