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Second Empire Style

Second Empire Style Architecture

The Second Empire style of architecture has its origins in France during the reign of Napoleon III, 1852-1870, which was known as the Second Napoleonic Empire.  During this period much of Paris was rebuilt with wide avenues and tall buildings featuring mansard roof lines.  This construction of this style of building spread to North America where it was used in grand public buildings and elegant residences.   It was most popular in the North-Eastern parts of the United States and Canada in the 1870s and 1880s.
It is an eclectic style that allowed architects to freely add features and ornamentation to the facade as they pleased. Typical elements include:
      • asymmetrical facade;
      • mansard roof line with moulded cornices above or below the lower slope;
      • multi-coloured slate roof tiles arranged to show a pattern;
      • bracketed eaves;
      • cast-iron cresting along the top of the roof line;
      • front tower or bay that projects up above the roof line;
      • dormer style windows;
      • and a large, rounded double front door. 
Glanmore’s Second Empire design features a slightly curved mansard roof of patterned slate, ‘white’ brick walling, and full height bays that extend above the roof line as turrets.  The arched dormers have scrolled woodwork embellishments.  The upper cornice and intricate cast-iron cresting set off the slate work featuring colourful rosettes.

Elements of Second Empire Architecture Diagram

Glanmore, originally built for wealthy banker and financier, John Philpot Curran Phillips…offers one of Ontario’s most elaborate examples of this taste.  Features such as the asymmetrical massing, the gentle concave curve of the roof, the delicate woodwork of the dormer  windows, and the bracketed cornice with scalloped frieze accenting the pattern of window openings below, create an appearance of picturesque elegance – a quality strongly advocated for domestic building in American architectural pattern books.

Canadian Historic Sites – Second Empire Style in Canadian Art, by C. Cameron & J. Wright (1977)