Home Style of the Month: Second Empire

The Second Empire style was most popular in the United States in the 1860s and 1870s, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. In its time, the style was considered modern and fashionable, simultaneously favored in France and the United States by affluent homeowners.



OldHousonline – French Connection

The style originated in France, where some French architects used the phrase “horror vacui” – the fear of unadorned surfaces – to describe the Second Empire style and its emphasis on heavy ornamentation. Second Empire homes became prominent in France during that country’s “second empire,” the reign of Napoleon (1852-1870).


Iron cresting on mansard roof

A tall mansard roof with wrought iron cresting is the most prominent distinguishing feature of this style. The roof was considered both visually appealing and practical since it created a fully functional attic space.

Appropriate for a style focus in October, Second Empire homes are often featured in Halloween imagery as the quintessential haunted house.

  • Elements of Second Empire Style
  • Mansard roof with decorative slate pattern
  • Cast iron decorative cresting at roof
  • Patterned tiles on roof
  • Segmented arched windows
  • Prominent arched doorway
  • One story porch
  • Tower



Credit: decorpad.com - Arched Doorways

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