Apsidal terminating with a curved (usually semicircular) wall.

Balustrade a row of balusters topped by a rail.

Beaux-Arts a tradition of showy, formal architecture, usually in a classically-inspired vocabulary, fostered by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and popular in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Belvedere a small look-out tower on the roof of a house, inspired by Italian villas.

Board and batten a wall surface composed of boards set vertically with the cracks between covered by narrow wood strips (or battens).

Carpenter’s Gothic a form of the Gothic Revival particularly popular in domestic architecture in the mid-19th century. It is characterized by steeply pitched gables and prominent porches decorated by intricate cut-out woodwork.

City Beautiful a tradition of classical public architecture and formal landscape in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, coming as a response to the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Corinthian order the most ornate of the major Greek systems of architectural proportioning and decoration, its capitals are characteristically bell-shaped and enveloped in outward curling Acanthus leaves.

Cornice the horizontal projection (often the edge of a roof and usually faced with moldings) which caps a wall composition.

Coved concavely curved.

Crenellations the battlement-like notches and raised sections of a parapet.

Dentil a small square block used in evenly-spaced series for Ionic and Corinthian cornices.

Doric order the simplest of the major Greek systems of architectural proportioning and decoration, characterized by plain, cushion-like capitals and friezes with alternating panels (triglyphs and metopes).

Eyebrow a projecting roof-like member above a window.

Fan light an arched window with radiating muntins, often above a door.

Fascia a flat horizontal facing member, generally beneath eaves or cornices.

Federal style a term generally designating the American architecture of the late eighteenth and early 19th centuries and here used with particular reference to the architectural fashion emanating from Boston at this time. It is characterized by planar simplicity and a refined delicacy in proportions and detailing. Decorative details (akin to those of the English Adam style and Wedgewood china) are ancient Roman in their inspiration. Perhaps the most characteristic feature of the style is a doorway composition with a fan light and sidelights.

Flemish bond a system of laying bricks which creates diamond-like patterns in the finished wall through the alternation of short (header) and long (stretcher) faces of the bricks.

Frieze a band, usually decorated, at the top of a wall or below a cornice.

Gambrel roof a roof with a double pitch, shallow on top and steeper toward the sides (frequently used on barns).

Georgian style the high style of eighteenth-century America. It is often characterized by formal symmetry and robust detailing (this latter including doors with transoms but no side lights, quoins, pilasters, and Palladian windows).

Gothic Revival a style of architecture inspired by the buildings of the later middle ages, typically characterized by steeply-pitched roofs, pointed arches, asymmetrical massing, towers, and applied tracery-derived decoration. It was particularly popular in the United States from the late 1830s through the Civil War for its picturesque qualities and its moral (ecclesiastical) associations.

Groined vault an arched ceiling in which various sections intersect to form sharp edges (or groins).

Hipped roof a roof with sloped rather than vertical ends.

House joiner a skilled woodworker who was responsible for the finishing work and details on a building in the eighteenth and early 19th centuries. This position was in contrast to that of a carpenter, who in the same period was responsible for such heavy work on a building as erecting the frame. The joiner often had a designing role as well — architecture only emerging as a recognized profession in this country during the course of the 19th century.

Italianate referring to one of the picturesque vocabularies drawn upon by builders in the middle quarters of the 19th century. Inspired particularly by Tuscan villas, “Italian” details included heavy cornices, elaborate brackets, towers or belvederes, round arched windows, and heavily plastic moldings.

Ionic order the most graceful of the Greek orders. It is characterized by deeply fluted columns, capitals with spiraling volutes, and bands of dentils.

Keystone the central trapezoidal stone of an arch, often emphasized by size or decoration.

Lintel a horizontal beam or stone bridging an opening.

Mansard a double-sloped roof, the lower portion being longer and steeper than the upper. It is named for the French architect Francois Mansart and was a major device of the Second Empire style.

Meander a Greek-inspired decoration in which a continuous flat molding winds in on itself and then unwinds once more in the fashion of a squared spiral.

Modillion a small bracket frequently used in series to support a cornice.

Muntin a dividing element between the panes of a window.

Palladian window a three-part window with a central arch between rectangular side openings. Popular in the sixteenth century in Italy, it was picked up by the English in the eighteenth century. It is also called the Venetian or Serlian window.

Palmette a Greek-derived, fan-shaped ornament composed of narrow divisions like a palm leaf.

Pediment a low-pitched gable defined to read as a triangle by cornices or moldings.

Penstock a conduit for carrying water, as to a water wheel.

Piazza the name given to the large porches of the later 19th century because of their similarity to the arcades and colonnades which often surround an Italian square (or piazza).

Post-colonial referring generally to the architecture of the United States following the Revolution, but here used specifically to denote the continuing colonial tradition of building as opposed to such newly introduced styles as the Federal and Greek Revival.

Quoins the dressed stones at the corners of buildings, usually laid so that their faces are alternately large and small.

Return an element running back at right angles to the face of a structure.

Second Empire a style of architecture inspired by official building in Paris under Napoleon III and typified by mansard roofs and oft-elaborate dormers. It was popular in America in the decades following the Civil War.

Shingle style a style of architecture popular (especially for domestic and medium-sized buildings) from the late 1870s through the end of the 19th century. It is characterized by dominant roofs and the pervasive use of shingles or shingle-like textures on vertical as well as inclined surfaces.

Side lights the narrow vertical windows flanking a door.

Stick style a style of architecture popular in the 1870s and 1880s. It is characterized by an emphasis on the wooden framing of a building (even to the extent of using decorative pseudo-framing applied to wall surfaces and in gable ends) and on elaborately framed porches appended to buildings of wood or masonry.

String course a continuous projecting horizontal band set in the surface of a wall to articulate such features as floor divisions or sill lines.

Verge boards boards facing the inclined gable of a building, often elaborately decorative. Also called “barge boards,” these were particularly popular in Gothic Revival domestic architecture, where they could be fashioned with a cut-out, tracery-like character.

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