Architectural Terms


Bargeboard (Vergeboard): The ornamental boards, often fretted or decoratively carved, attached under the gable or verge of Gothic Revival buildings. Also called “gingerbread.”
Bay: A window, door, or other opening, comprising one division of a façade. Also, a projection, as in a bay window.
Beltcourse: A decorative horizontal band of brickwork beneath the eave and/or between the first and second storey.
Blind Arcade: A line of arches projecting from a solid wall.
Bracket: Any overhanging member projecting from a wall, to support a weight, generally formed with scrolls.
Clapboard: Horizontal wood cladding of overlapping boards.
Common Bond: Five rows of stretchers (the long side of the brick), one row of headers (the short end of the brick) repeated through-out. See also Flemish Bond.
Corbel: A masonry projection on the courses of a wall, each course projecting slightly beyond the next below it; intended to carry weight of the cornice, it is often decorative.
Cornice: Horizontal moulded projection at the intersection of the exterior wall and the roof.
Coursing: A continuous horizontal row of brick or stone in a wall.
Cresting: Ornamental finish along the top of a roof or wall.
Dentil: A small, tooth-like square block, used in a row as a decorative feature in a cornice.
Dichromatic Brickwork: Brick-work laid in two colours.
Entablature: The horizontal component that lies directly above a column or a wall.
Finial: Ornament or crowning detail at the apex of a gable, pinnacle, spires, etc. Also called a kingpin.
Flemish Bond: Brickwork that consists of alternating headers and stretchers in every course, so arranged that the headers and stretchers in every other course appear in vertical lines.
Frieze: A wide horizontal band at the top of an exterior wall.
Gable: The triangular upper portion of a wall, between the enclosing lines of a sloping roof.
Headings: The area immediately over a window or door.
Keystone: The central wedge-shaped stone of a masonry arch.
Label: A rectangular moulding to throw off the rain above a window or door.
Lintel: The horizontal member supporting the wall above a door or window.
Mansard Roof: It has a double slope, the upper nearly flat, the lower steep and often curved.
Palladian Window: A window in three parts, the centre section larger and arched at the head, the smaller sections on either side having squared heads.
Pediment: The triangular area above a portico or window or door.
Pilaster: An ornamental half column projecting slightly from a wall.
Quatrefoil: A four-lobed ornament.
Quoins: The accentuated members of a corner, often formed of stone, but also fashioned of brick, appearing to bond the corners of a building.
Rustication: Masonry made up of very large blocks with deep joints and decorated with rough or bold finishes.
Sidelight: A window beside a door, forming part of the door unit.
Transom: A window above a door, forming part of the door unit.
Voussoir: A brick or wedge-shaped stone forming one of the units of an arch. The central voussoir is the keystone.
Verandah: An open portico, gallery, balcony, usually roofed, along the outside of a building.

Architectural Styles

Carpenter’s Gothic: (circa 1840-1900) A Canadian adaptation of the Gothic style using wood instead of stone. Carpenter’s Gothic is usually white with black or blue trim.
Classic Revival Style: (circa 1830-1900) A temple-like façade suggested by a pediment and columns, elegant and urbane masonry.
Georgian Style: (circa 1784-1860) Sturdy and secure, usually 2½ storeys, well proportioned houses with medium-pitched gable or hipped roofs, the chimneys usually inset, balanced façade with 3-5-7 bays, centre door, rectangular openings, and sometimes a Palladian window is used as a decorative motif.
Gothic Revival Style: (circa 1840-1900) Features include the pointed-arch window, gables, finials, and the decorative wooden bargeboard or ornate gingerbread gable trim.
Italianate Style: (circa 1840-1885) Features include asymmetrical shape, two storey structure, protruding bay windows, round-headed windows set in pairs, and prominent, ornate brackets.
Queen Anne Revival Style: (circa 1870-1910) Very popular in Canada in the late 19th century among the prosperous middle-class. Characterized by towers, complex roof lines, varied materials. Emphasis is on the eclectic use of contrasting building materials and colours, architectural features, and windows. A prominent feature is the fish scale or wood shingling which appears on the top storey of residential buildings.