Popularity ~ 1860 - 1880
Second Empire style is named after the reign of
Napoleon III (1852-1870)
Architect Francois Mansart was born in 1598 in
Renaissance France. He was destined to become a great architect, but
a failure of a person. Known to be headstrong, arrogant, and
not particularly honest. Worse yet, he loved to spend his
client's money. He once ordered a massive wing of a building
to be torn down because it offended his eye. His client felt
that it should have offended his eye during the drawing board stage.
Mansart's genius brought classicism in architecture to France and he
popularized what is now known as the Mansard roof.
Unfortunately, Mansart's reputation caught up with him. He
spent the final ten years of his life without commission and
A surge of friendship towards
the French helped to establish the popularity of the Mansard house.
Lafayette was still considered a great hero in the 1870's.
Soon the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France was to
be unveiled, and America was, at that time, quite fond of any fellow
Fact: A tax ruling in France where the
amount of tax was determined by the number of floors a house had,
inspired Mansart's roof design. He simply pulled the exterior
walls of the top floor in and wrapped the roof around the exterior
face. This roof design made the area inside an "attic" and
therefore not subject to taxation. Mansart was taken to court
by tax officials, but won his greatly publicized case. This
greatly added to the popularity of his designs as it gave the owner
a tax free floor.
- Two or three
story tower in front
- usually under a bracketed cornice
- Narrow and
tall design - Popular in urban setting where
light and space are at a premium - well suited for narrow
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