Changing technology changes architecture. This was very apparent during the Victorian era, when steam-powered tools combined with Romantic Movement notions and an enthusiasm for ornament to produce the wood “gingerbread” trim now associated with the period. This delicious detail from a portico on an Italianate style house is a perfect example of the result.
Without steam-powered tools, the cost of the labor needed to fabricate this type of trim would have made it impractical for a middle-class home like this one. With steam power, the work could be done quickly in a mill that specialized in such work and the cost kept within the means of the middle class.
Gingerbread trim is a character-defining feature of many Victorian era houses. Where such trim survives, its preservation should be a high priority, and where there is good documentation that it once existed but is gone, its replication should be considered if at all possible.
Exterior trim is covered in detail in Chapter 13 of “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners.” The 720 page award-winning and best-selling hardcover book now available in bookstores and from online retailers.
Signed and personalized copies are available directly from the author ain the shop on this site, https://yourhistorichouse.com/shop/.
Your local bookstore can order copies from W.W. Norton.
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