Video:Characteristics of a Second Empire Homewith Fred Abler
Second Empire homes have an architectural design inspired by historical French buildings. Learn more about the characteristics of a Second Empire home in this video from About.comSee Transcript
Transcript:Characteristics of a Second Empire Home
Hi, I'm Fred Abler, Graduate Architect and CEO of FormFonts.com. I'm here today for About.com to talk with you about the characteristics of a second empire home.
Second Empire Homes are Found Throughout the United States
You won't find this style in a tract development, but you will find it sprinkled throughout the United States in various areas. Inspired by the architecture prevalent in France during the reign of Napoleon III, construction of these homes was popular in the United States between the mid-1850s and the mid-1880s; however, later examples do exist.
For instance, this French Second Empire home in San Francisco's Alamo Square Historic District was built in 1904 for Archbishop Patrick Riordan. As a survivor of Chicago's Great Fire of 1871, Riordan insisted that all church structures, including his home, be constructed of masonry. The home was then covered in stucco.
Features in a Second Empire Home
Features of Second Empire homes include, but are not limited to, the following: a mansard roof with dormer windows, a cupola, or dome-shaped structure on the roof, wrought iron cresting, rounded cornices at the top and base of the roof, brackets beneath the eaves, as well as beneath any balconies or bay windows, tall windows on the first story, and paired columns framing a small entry porch.
Often two or three stories, these homes can vary greatly in size. Victorian Second Empire homes were typically built for single families, with anywhere from two to three thousand square feet of interior floor space. On the other hand, the Archbishop's Mansion was built on a grand scale to serve as a symbol of the Catholic Church.
Interiors are typically designed with a central hall plan and an asymmetrical arrangement of rooms.
Second Empire Homes Do Well in the Housing Market
As this classic style is a favorite among real estate and architectural enthusiasts, it holds up well in most markets. However, most of these homes are well over a hundred years old, which means they may require a great deal of renovation, and will certainly need a fair amount of upkeep throughout the years. Second Empire homes bring a taste of Parisian opulence to the landscapes they grace, from their mansard roofs to their heavy ornamentation.
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