Mansard Monday ~ Second Empire House

Mansard Monday ~ This Second Empire style house in Dexter, Maine, has a lot of presence for a relatively small house.

The defining feature of a Second Empire style building is the Mansard roof, named for 17th-century French Baroque architect François Mansart. It was first used for an addition to the Louvre palace in Paris c. 1550. It became fashionable again during the Second French Empire (1852–1870), corresponding with the middle Victorian era in the English-speaking world.

Typically called a French roof in the U.S. during the mid-19th century, when all things French were “en vogue” for fashionable Americans. It is an urban legend that Mansard roofs were built to avoid being taxed for another story.

Second Empire buildings are essentially Italianate in style from the eave line down, but the roof gives them a different identity. The little Mansard “cap” at the top of this house is particularly fabulous. The matching carriage house is wonderful too.

Second Empire style is one of 25 styles illustrated and described in Chapter 2 of “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners.”

Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.

Our shop also carries select preservation and restoration titles by other authors. Save on cost and shipping with our multi-book combo packs!

© Scott T. Hanson 2023

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