Historic Walking Tours of Narragansett Pier

Cottages Treasures

Architectural Glossary


Most of the architectural descriptions appearing in the Historic Walking Tours are from one or
both of the RI HistoricalPreservation Commission surveys, 1978 and 1991. The glossary
explains terms in the surveys with which not everyreader may be familiar.


B— The Illustrated Architectural Dictionary on theBuffalo Architecture and Historywebsite.

NR— The Appendix on theNew Richmond, Ohio,website.

O— The Glossary on theOntario Architecturewebsite.

W3— Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (1986)


arcading— The series of arches or arcades used in the construction or decoration of a building or other object.[W3]
blind arcading— A decorative row of arches applied to a wall as a decorative element.[B]

acanthus— Leaf borders and scroll motifs were used extensively in the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome.
Foremost of these was the acanthus motif. Some say the acanthus, one of the oldest flowers in the Mediterranean area,
represents long life. Throughout most of its long history the leaf ornament generally known as acanthus is in fact an
imaginary leaf adapted to many uses.[B

architrave— 1. The lowest of the 3 main parts of an entablature that rests directly on top of a column. 2. The molded
frame around a door
or window.[B]

ashlar— Squared-off blocks of stone used in building[B]
ashlar brick (rock-faced brick)— A brick whose face has been hacked to resemble roughly hacked stone[B]
ashlar masonry— Smooth square or rectangular stones laid with mortar in horizontal courses[B]
coursed ashlar— Ashlar masonry built of stones having the same height within each course, but each course varying
in height[B]

random ashlar— Ashlar masonry where stones appear to be laid without a drawn pattern, although the pattern may
be repeated[B]


balustrade— A railing with supporting balusters.[B]
baluster— A turned or rectangular upright supporting a railing or handrail.[B]

bargeboard— A board, often ornately carved or pierced, fixed to the projecting edge of a gable roof.[B]
Also calledvergeboardorfly rafter.

baroque— A style of art and architecture prevalent from the latter part of the 16th century to the latter part of the 18th
century, marked by dynamic opposition and the use of curved and plastic figures, and especially in the later phases, by
an elaborate, sometimes grotesque, ornamention...[W3]

batter— A wall or column with sloping faces or sides, making it narrower at the top than at the bottom.[B]

battlement— A parapet topped with alternating indentations and raised portions, originally for defense but later
used as a decorative motif.[B]
Also calledembattlement, crenellationorcastellation.

bay— 1. A part of a building marked off by vertical elements, such as columns or pilasters. 2. A bay window.[B]

blind arcading— See arcading.

bracket— A projection from a vertical surface providng structural or visual support under cornices, balconies, or any
other overhanging member.[B}
A modillion is an example; brackets are common in Queen Anne Style.

buttress— A structure, usually brick or stone, built against a wall for support or reinforcement to resist the pressure
of a arch or vault.[B]
flying buttress— Masonry support consisting usually of a pier or buttress standing apart from the main structure
and connected to it by an arch to take the thrust of the vaulting.[B]


chimney pot— A cylindrical pipe of brick, terra-cotta, or metal placed on the top of a chimney to improve the draft
to draw away noxious fumes from coal-burning fireplaces.[B]

Chinese Chippendale— Chippendale furniture employing chiefly straight lines, bamboo turnings, and as surface
decoration to fluting and fretwork in a variety of lattice patterns.[W3]

clapboard— A narrow board that is usually thicker at one edge than the other and is used for weatherboarding
outside walls.[W3]

clerestory— An upper story row of windows; part of an interior wall rising above the adjacent roof with windows
admitting light.[B]

colonette— A column used as a decorative element on the side or jamb of a window or door, or a decorative
element in a compound pier.[O]

Colonial Revival— Following on the heels of America's Centennial celebrations, the Colonial Revival emerged
in the early 1880s. The style, which borrowed heavily from early American architecture – particularly Georgian
style buildings – was largely an outgrowth of a new pride in America's past and a rapidly growing interest in
historic preservation. Among the leaders of the movement were the partners at need to link with description of this
firm McKim, Mead and White, who had made a tour of New England's historic towns in 1878. ...
The Colonial Revival building is often a combination of various Colonial styles and contemporary elements. Generally
the Revival house is larger than its Colonial counterpart and some of the individual elements are exaggerated or out
of proportion with other parts of the house. Some Revival houses, however, are executed with such historical
accuracy that they are difficult to distinguish from original houses.[B]

Dutch Colonial Revival, Dutch Revival— Of the many forms of the Colonial Revival style, the Dutch cottage
variant is among the most distinctive. Adapted from eighteenth century farmhouses erected by Dutch settlers,
the defining characteristic of the style is a gambrel roof, which was introduced to America by the Dutch in the
Mid-Atlantic colonies. The double-pitch of the gambrel roof created more space in the upper story, while allowing
for the rapid run-off of rainfall, common to the eastern seaboard.
Dutch Colonial Revival houses are typically a tall one-and-one-half story building with a large flank-gambrel roof
containing the second floor and attic. The lower roof slopes at both front and rear are broken by large full-width
shed dormers on the second story level; the dormers usually dominate the roof, and the gambrel form is sometimes
evident only on the end walls.[B]

Also see Georgian Revival.

corbel— 1. A projecting bracket of stone, brick, etc., which supports a cornice, arch, or oriel. 2. An overlapping
arrangement of bricks or stones in which each course extends farther out from the vertical of the wall than the
course below. Usually supports a cornice or overhanging member.[B]

cornice— Any crowning projection.[B]

coursed ashlar, random-coursed ashlar See ashlar.

cross-hipped, cross-gabled, cross-gambrel— Three popular roof types where two elements – hips, gables
or gambrels – meet at right angles to each other.

cruciform— Shaped like a cross.[B]

cupola— A dome, usually small, topping a roof or turret.[B]


dormer— A window in a sloping roof, usually that of a sleeping-apartment, hence the name.[B]Or, A structure
projecting from a sloping roof usually housing a vertical window that is placed in a small gable, or containing a
ventilating louver.[B]

Dutch Colonial Revival (or Dutch Revival)— See Colonial Revival


Eastlake style— Eastlake is named after Charles L. Eastlake (1833-1906), an English architect who wrote Hints
on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details
, published in 1868. The book was reprinted in
America in 1872 and became so popular that it required six editions within 11 years.
In his book, Eastlake promotes a peculiar kind of furniture and interior decoration that was angular, notched and
carved, and deliberately opposed to the curved shapes of French Baroque Revival styles such as the Second Empire.
Traditionally, furniture makers imitated architectural forms, but Eastlake reversed this process. Eastlake houses
had architectural ornamentation that had copied the furniture inside the house. ... [E]ntire houses can be termed
Eastlake, as well. They are similar in overall effect to both the Eastern Stick and Queen Anne styles, but are
generally smaller in scale.[B

eaves— That part of a sloping roof that overhangs the wall.[B]

entablature— In classical architecture, the top of an order, horizontally divided into cornice, frieze, and
architrave, supported by a colonnade.[B]


fanlight— A window above a door, usually semicircular or semielliptical, with glazing bars radiating out like
a fan.[B]

finial— An ornament, usually foliated, on top of a peak of an arch or arched structure, e.g., a spire, pinnacle
or a gable.[B]

fluting— Shallow vertical grooves on the shaft of a column.[B]

frieze— 1. The middle section of the Classic entablature, located above the architrave and below the cornice;
a panel below the upper molding or cornice of a wall. 2. Any sculptured or richly ornamented band in a building.[B]


gable— That part of the wall immediately under the end of a pitched roof, cut into a triangular shape by the sloping
sides of the roof.[B]
gable roof— A pitched roof having a gable at each end.[B]
gable-on-hip— See hip roof.

gambrel roof— A ridged roof with two slopes on either side, the lower slope having the steeper pitch. Often flared
beyond the front and rear of the house forming a deep overhang.[B]

Georgian Revival— "Georgian Revival" is sometimes referred to as "Colonial Revival" (1870-1920). The English
Georgian style was the most prevalent type of Colonial buildings, but certainly not the only one. Two obvious
exceptions are styles that were used by the Dutch and French. …
Early examples of Colonial Revival were rarely historically correct copies but were instead free interpretations
with details inspired by colonial precedents. ... The overall features of Georgian Revival may be described as
symmetrical composition enriched with classical detail. [Features included] [p]aneled front door, usually centered
and capped by an elaborate decorative crown (entablature) supported by decorative pilasters (flattened columns).
The main door is the principal ornamental feature of the Georgian facade.[B]

Also see Colonial Revival.

Gothic revival— During the second half of the 19th century, architects in the United States began to lose interest in
Greco-Roman Classicism, and to adopt new domestic styles based loosely on medieval and other non-classical forms of
Defining features ofGothic Architecture:

• A progressive lightening and heightening of structure

• Pointed arches

• Ribbed vaults

• Flying buttresses.

• Walls reduced to a minimum by spacious arcades, gallery or triforium, and by spacious clerestory stained
glass windows.[B]


half-timbered— Having a timber framework with the spaces filled with masonry or plaster.[B]

hip roof, hipped roof— A roof with four sloped sides.[B]
gable-on-hip, hipped gable— A roof having a sloping (hipped) end cutting off a gable.[B]Also known
as jerkinhead, clipped gable or shreadhead.


jerkinhead, jerkinhead gable roof— See hip roof.


lintel— A supporting wood or stone beam across the top of an opening, such as that of a window, door or
fireplace. Found on almost all types of architecture.[B]
splayed lintel— A lintel, each end of which slants downward toward the center line of the window; often
has a keystone in its center.[B]

loggia— 1. An arcaded or colonnaded structure, open on one or more sides, sometimes with an upper story.
2. An arcaded or colonnaded porch or gallery attached to a larger structure.[B]


mansard roof— [T]his roof is almost flat on the top section and then has deeply sloping, often curved,
lower sections that generally contain dormers.[O]

modillion— An ornamental bracket or console, usually in the form of a scroll with acanthus, supporting
the cornice.[O]


Norman Style— 1. A Romanesque style first appering in and near Normandy about A.D. 950.
2. architecture resembling or imitating this style.[W3] Features: Plain and massive, frequent use of round arches[B]


orderIn classical architecture, a column with base, shaft (except for Doric style), capital, and entablature,
decorated and proportioned according to one of the accepted modes, Corinthian, Doric, Ionic or Composite.[B]
A projecting bay window, which juts out from the main wall of the building but does not reach to the ground,
and is often supported from below with a corbel or bracket.[B]


Palladian window— A window with a central arched section flanked by two narrow rectangular sections.[B]

parapet— A low guarding wall at any point of sudden drop, as at the edge of a terrace, roof, battlement,
balcony, etc.[B]

pediment— A triangular gable across a portico, door or window; any similar triangular decorative piece
over a doorway, fireplace, etc.[B]

porte-cochere— A porch large enough for a carriage to pass through. (French,porte, door +cochere,carriage. )[B]

portico— A roofed entrance porch supported on at least one side by columns.[B]


quarry-faced granite— Squared blocks with rough surfaces that look as if they just came out of the ground,
squared off only or the joints; usually used in massive work.[B]

Queen Anne style— The Queen Anne style was the quintessential American Victorian house with "bric-a-brac"
and "gingerbread." It was the dominant style of domestic building during the period from about 1880 until 1900;
it persisted with decreasing popularity through the first decade of the 20th century.
The style is varied and decoratively rich. Queen Anne houses often often employed elaborate woodwork of the
Eastlake type. At the time of construction it was not uncommon for the houses to be painted with as many as six
or seven different colors to bring out all the different textures and trim. The fashion was fairly dark colors, along
the lines of what we call today "earth tones" -- sienna red, hunter green, burnt yellow, muddy brown, etc. ...
The sources were a combination of 17th and 18th century English and Flemish domestic architecture but
incorporated eclectic motifs drawn from many sources.[B]


random-coursed, coursed rubble— Masonry construction in which roughly dressed stones of random
size are used, as they occur, to build up courses; the interstices between them are filled with smaller pieces,
or with mortar.[B]

Romanesque architecture— The general impression given by Romanesque architecture, in both ecclesiastical
and secular buildings, is one of massive solidity and strength. In contrast with both the preceding Roman and later
Gothic architecture in which the load bearing structural members are, or appear to be, columns, pilasters and
arches, Romanesque architecture, in common with Byzantine architecture, relies upon its walls, or sections of walls
called piers. ... The widespread introduction of a single feature was to bring about the stylistic change that separates
Gothic from Romanesque, and broke the tradition of massive masonry and solid walls penetrated by small openings,
replacing it with a style where light appears to triumph over substance. The feature that brought the change
is the pointed arch.[Wiki]


shingle— A roofing unit of wood, asphaltic material, slate, tile, concrete, asbestos cement, or other material cut to
stock lengths, widths, and thickness; used as an exterior covering on sloping roofs and side walls; applied in an
overlapping fashion.[B]

Shingle style— [Shingle style] is sometimes referred to as the "seaside style." The shingle style is basically the
Queen Anne style wrapped in shingles. The Shingle Style had its genesis in the Boston area in the early 1880s.
Over the next two decades it spread across the country, although it was favored for the rambling seaside estates and
resorts of the New England coast. ... Shingle style borrows wide porches, its shingled surfaces, and asymmetrical
forms from Queen Anne style, but practitioners opened up the interior space and made a lot fewer rooms; the rooms
were a lot bigger, it was easier for light to penetrate the interior.[B]

Spanish Eclectic— Features:

• Asymmetrical

• Low-pitched roof, usually with little or no overhang

• Red tile roof covering

• One or more prominent arches placed above door or window, or beneath porch roof

• Usually stucco wall surface[B]

splayed lintel— See lintel.

staggered-butt shingles— Wood shingles with uneven ends, intended to simulate a rustic appearance.[NR]

Stick style— The asymmetrical composition of the Eastern Stick style is highlighted by functional-appearing
decorative "stick work." The style is defined primarily by decorative detailing – the characteristic multi-textured wall
surfaces and roof trusses whose stickwork faintly mimics the exposed structural members of Medieval half-timbered
houses. This is in contrast to earlier Gothic Revival that used the wall surface as a plane with decorative detail applied
at the doors, windows, or cornices. … The emphasis on patterned wood walls seen in the Stick style was further
developed in the succeeding Queen Anne style.[B]

stucco— A material now usually made of portland cement sand and a small percentage of lime and applied in
a plastic state to form a hard covering for the exterior walls or surfaces of a building or structure.[W3]


terracotta— [A] hard, semifired, waterproof ceramic clay used in pottery and building construction. Used mainly
for wall covering and ornamentation as it can be fired in molds. Oftentimes, white or colored glaze is applied on the
face of the brick.[B]

tower— A building or part of a building that is exceptionally high in proportion to its width and length.[B]

triforium— The arcade which is seen in many vaulted churches below the clerestory.[B]

truss, trusswork— A rigid framework, as of wooden beams or metal bars, designed to support a structure, such
as a roof.[B]

turned— Wood shaped by applying a chisel to it while it is rotated on a lathe.[B]

turret— A small tower that is part of a building, usually round and corbeled from a corner.[B]

Tuscan-columned— The Tuscan Order, which is the simplest of all the orders, is distinguished by the following:

• Plain entablature

• A plain astragal (without bead-and-reel) ringing the column beneath its plain cap beneath the architrave

• Plain capital

• Unfluted column

• Unadorned base[B]


veranda— An enclosing porch or sheltered area ... on a house. The veranda might circle two or three sides of the
house as in Queen Anne designs.[O]

vergeboard— See bargeboard.

vernacular— This term applies to both local styles and local materials. A building can be of a grand style in
vernacular materials – for example a Georgian building made of field stone – or it can be a vernacular type of
building such as an igloo or a mud hut. Vernacular buildings are built to suit the local climate and conditions.[O]

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