Saturday, September 30, 2006

House of Five Gables

When I was doing the write up to add my house to the Local Register of Historic Places, and hopefully someday I will add it to the National Register of Historic Places, I had to make sure to get all the names of the architectural elements correct. Those historical types can be quite picky. I’ve heard they can be quick to start a fight if you use a wrong architectural term. You can’t just say the house has X number of windows, you must specify what style of windows they are. Everything has a name.

The proper way to describe my roof, or at least I think it’s the proper way, would be to say that it is a “Hipped roof with four lower crossed gables”. Three of the gables are referred to as “pent roof enclosing gables”. Here are some basic roof types

You can see that the hip type roof has shingles on all 4 sides, as opposed to the gabled type, which only has shingles on 2 sides. As it was said, my house has a hipped roof, and then it has the four gables. They are the “lower crossed gables”.

It’s obvious why they are referred to as “lower” gables because they are all lower than the main gable of the hipped roof. I was trying to figure out why they are specifically referred to as “crossed” gables. They do run across the roof, but then I can’t picture a gable that doesn’t. Two of mine run perpendicular to the main gable and the other 2 run parallel, yet they are all referred to as “Lower crossed gables”. Adding the word “crossed” seems a little redundant, but that’s what they call them, so who am I to argue.

Even though all the gable are lower than the main gable, none are at the same elevation, nor are any of them the same size. The gables get progressively lower and smaller. That is to say, the large front gable on the right side of the house is the largest and the highest. The gable on the south side is slightly lower and slightly smaller, and the gable on the north side is lower and smaller still. Finally there is the smallest and lowest of the four on the front left-hand side of the house.

The three largest of the gables are the “pent roof enclosing gables”. The pent roof is a small, slanted roof the runs horizontally at the base of the gable. Sometimes the pent roofs are shingled, but on my house they are metal. Here’s a shot of one of the pent roofs, and it’s not doing so good. Maybe Tex from over at 1880s Italianate can come over and do a POR-15 job on them, now that he’s an expert.

I originally thought the 3 main pent roof enclosing gables were all the same size. Today, when I was up painting the north gable, I noticed it was much easier to reach all of the shingles on this one than it was on the other two. This north side gable only has 3 rows of fish-scale shingles above the window. The front gable has 7 rows above the window, and the south gable has 5 rows. They are progressively more narrow as well, but I did not count the shingles.

This morning I scraped, sanded, and primed the shingles on the last, north side gable. The weather is still gloomy, and it looks like it may drizzle, so I’m going to put the top-coat on in a few hours and hopefully beat any precipitation. Then it’s on to Section 5.


purejuice said...

i'm getting acrophobia just looking at the pic you took on top of the ladder. you teh man.

Tex MacRae said...

That metal looks pretty good already.

You know what's funny? I went to an auction yesterday and some nice vent grates came up. I almost bid on them, thinking hmmm....those would look good on the Petch house....

Strange how real people become through these blogs.

Greg said...


I was hanging out a window for that shot. Still a long way down.


I guess it could be worse. The south side one had some holes about the size of a sliver dollar. I did a quick fix with a wire brush and some urethane caulk. Not sure how long that will hold.

I had someone from a small town in Iowa email me pictures of an 1890s wall sconce they saw in a local shop. It matched some 1890s chandeliers I showed pictures of on my site. They just happened to see it. They bought and shipped it to me and I paid them back for it. It was a great price and is now mounted on the wall in the dining room.

Tex MacRae said...

Arrrgh! Now I feel guilty. In my defense, it was one of those really enormous auctions where one auctioneer was going on inside and one outside. The outside one was auctioning stuff from a barn packed to the rafters and the only things you could inspect were the outside layer. I had little interest in the inside stuff - glass things and expensive antiques - so I stayed at the outside auction all day. They kept dragging these surprises out of that heap and snap judgements were required. By the time I thought about how those vent grates might be right for you, I had about 5 seconds to get in and I vacillated just long enough to lose out.

Greg said...

Hey, don't worry about it at all. There is a very good chance they weren't even the right size. I've looked at a half dozen locally, and several dozen on Ebay, and so for I've found only one matching pair that were the right size.