Glossary of Terms
addition - A new part on an existing building or structure.
alteration - A visible change to the exterior of a building
anchor - A metal clamp, often of fanciful design, (such as a
star) fastened on the outside of a wall to the end of a tie rod connecting
with an opposite wall, to prevent bulging.
American Foursquare - One of the few indigenous American styles.
It is a variant of what has come to be called the Prairie School of architecture
and is representative of the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
annex - A subsidiary structure near or adjoining a larger main
apex - The highest point, peak, or tip of any structure.
arch - A curved or pointed construction which spans an opening.
arch - A curved or pointed construction which spans an opening.
architectural - Pertaining to architecture, its features, characteristics,
architecture - The art and science of designing and building
structures in keeping with aesthetic and functional criteria.
architrave - The lowest member of an entablature; the beam
that spans from column to column.
armory - A building used for storage of military equipment.
A weapons manufacturing plant.
Art Deco - A decorative style widely used in the architecture
of the 1930s; characterized by sharp angular or zigzag surface forms and
attic - A story built above the wall cornice.
awning - A rooflike shelter of canvas or other material extending
over a doorway or window.
balcony - A projecting platform, sometimes supported from below,
sometimes cantilevered, enclosed with a railing or balustrade.
balloon frame - Wooden building framing where all vertical structural
elements of the exterior bearing walls consist of single studs which extend
the full height of the frame.
baluster - One of a number of short vertical members, often
circular in section, used to support a railing.
balustrade - An entire railing system (as along the edge of
a balcony) including a top rail and its balusters, and sometimes a bottom
bargeboard - The decorative board along the roof edge of a gable
that conceals the rafters.
basement - Usually the lowest story of a building, either partly
or entirely below grade.
basket weave - A checkerboard pattern of bricks.
batten - A narrow strip of wood applied to cover a joint along
the edges of two parallel boards (as in board and batten).
bay - A vertical division of a building marked by fenestration
or other architectural features.
bay window - A window that projects from an exterior wall.
bead - A molding used in ornamenting a given surface.
beam - A structural member whose prime function is to carry
transverse loads, as a joist, girder, rafter, or purlin.
bearing wall - A supporting part of a structure.
Beaux Arts architecture - Historical and eclectic design on
a monumental scale, as taught at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, in
the nineteenth century.
belfry - A room at or near the top of a tower which contains
bells and their supporting timbers.
belt course - See string course.
blank wall, blind wall, dead wall - A wall whose whole surface
is unbroken by a window, door, or other opening.
blank window, blind window, false window - A recess in an external
wall, having the external appearance of a window, to give symmetry.
blind - See shutter.
board and batten - Vertical siding on a structure that has narrow
strips covering the vertical joints between the boards.
bond - An arrangement of masonry units (such as bricks) to provide
strength, stability, and beauty.
brace - A metal or wood member which is used to stiffen or support
bracket - A decorative support beneath a projecting floor, window,
brick - A solid or hollow masonry unit of clay or shale, molded
into a rectangular shape and then fired in a kiln.
brick nogging - Brick-work laid in the spaces between timbers
in a wood frame partition.
broken pediment - A decorative element - usually over a door
or a window - in which the sloping sides do not meet, creating an opening
that contains a decorative feature.
bulkhead - The structural supporting wall under the display
windows of a storefront.
Bungalow - A type of dwelling that originated in British India
but became popular world-wide, often as worker housing, because it was
economical to build.
buttress - An exterior mass of masonry set at an angle to a
wall to provide strength and support.
canopy - A covered area which extends from the wall of a building
to protect an entrance.
cantilever - A structural member which projects beyond its
supporting wall or column.
capital - The upper portion of a column or pilaster.
Carpenter Gothic - The application of Gothic motifs by artisan
builders in wood, during the nineteenth century.
cased-in timber - Finished millwork which covers or encases
a structural member such as a porch post.
casement window - A window which swings open along its entire
cast iron - Iron that is formed by pouring the molten metal
into a mold and letting it cool.
caulk - Material used to fill or close seams and crevices in
order to make them watertight.
clapboards - A wood siding commonly used as an exterior covering
on a wood frame building. It is applied horizontally and overlapped, with
the grain running lengthwise.
chimney - The vertical structure containing a passage or flue,
which carries smoke and gases from a fire or furnace by means of a created
chimney pot -An earthenware or metal pipe fitted on top
of a chimney to increase draft and reduce or disperse smoke.
Classical architecture - The architecture of Hellenic
Greece and Imperial Rome, upon which the Italian Renaissance and subsequent
styles such as the Classic Revival based their development.
Classic Revival - An architectural movement based on
the use of Roman and Greek forms.
Colonial architecture - Architecture transplanted from
homelands to overseas colonies, such as English Georgian architecture of
the eighteenth century in Virginia.
Colonial Revival - The reuse of Georgian and Colonial
design, toward the end of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century.
Typically found in banks, churches, and suburban homes.
column - A vertical member, such as a post or a pillar, which
supports a load.
Common bond, American bond - A bond in which every fifth or
sixth brick course consists of headers, the other courses being stretchers.
Widely used because such brickwork can be laid quickly.
coping - A protective cap, top, or cover of a wall, parapet,
or chimney; often of stone, terra-cotta, concrete, or metal. Protects the
masonry below from the penetration of water from above.
corbeling - Courses of masonry that project out in a series
of steps from the wall, often part of the cornice at the top of a facade.
corner board - A board used as trim on the external corner of
a wood frame structure and against which the ends of the siding are fitted.
cornice - The exterior trim of a structure where the roof meets
course - A layer of masonry units (such as bricks) running horizontally
in a wall and bonded with mortar.
cresting - A decorative ridge on a roof, usually constructed
of ornamental metal.
crossbeam - Any transverse beam in a structure, such as a joist.
cupola - A small structure built on top of a roof or building.
dentil - One of a band of small, square blocks forming part of
dependency - A subsidiary building near or adjoining a principal
dome - A curved roof structure; often hemisphirical in shape.
door - An entranceway. A barrier which swings, slides, tilts,
or folds to close an opening.
door header - The uppermost member of a door frame.
door jamb - The vertical member on each side of a door (also
called the doorpost).
door sill - The horizontal member, usually a board, covering
the floor joint on the threshold of a door.
dormer - A structure projecting from a sloping roof, usually
housing a window or a vent.
dormer window - A vertical window which projects from a sloping
roof, placed in a small gable.
double window - Two windows, side by side, which form a single
downspout, leader - A vertical pipe used to conduct water from
the roof to the ground.
dressed lumber - Lumber having one or more of its faces planed
dressed stone - Stone that has been worked to a shape; the faces
to be exposed are smooth.
drip cap - A horizontal molding, fixed to a door or window frame,
to divert water from the top rail, causing it to drip beyond the outside
of the frame.
Dutch Colonial architecture - The building style prevalent in
the Dutch-settled parts of the North American colonies in the seventeenth
century, particularly in New York and the Hudson Valley.
eaves - The lower edge of a sloping roof; that part of a roof
which projects beyond the wall.
elevation - A drawing showing the elements of a building in
English basement - A basement whose windows are above ground
(as opposed to being sunken).
English bond - Brickwork with alternate courses of headers and
Entablature - 1. The elaborated beam member carried by columns
horizontally divided into architrave (below), the frieze, and cornice (above).
2. The upper section of a wall, generally supported on columns or pilasters.
On storefronts, the entablature is often used to display signs.
extension - A wing or structure added to an existing building.
eyebrow - A low dormer on the slope of a roof. It has no sides
and the roofing is carried over it.
eyebrow window - 1. A bottom-hinged, inward-opening sash in
the uppermost level of a Greek Revival house, or the like. 2. A window
in an eyebrow.
fabric - The basic elements of a building.
facade - The exterior face of a building which constitutes the
fanlight - A semi-circular window over the opening of a door,
with radiating muntins in the form of an open fan.
fascia - A flat horizontal member or molding with little projection,
commonly under eaves and cornices.
Federal style - The Classical Revival style of architecture
that emerged in the United States at the end of the eighteenth and the
beginning of the nineteenth century.
fence - A barrier enclosing or bordering a yard.
fenestration - The arrangement of the openings in a building.
finial - An ornament which terminates the point of a gable or
flashing - Pieces of sheet metal used to weatherproof joints
and angles, as where a roof comes in contact with a wall or chimney.
flat arch, jack arch, straight arch - An arch that is horizontal
or nearly horizontal.
Flemish bond - Brickwork in which each course consists of headers
and stretchers laid alternately; each header is centered with respect to
the stretchers above and below it.
Flemish diagonal bond - A bond in which a course of alternate
headers and stretchers is followed by a course of stretchers, resulting
in a diagonal pattern. The old Maury School exhibits both Flemish and Flemish
flue, chimney flue - An incombustible and heat-resistant passage
in a chimney to carry away combustion products from a fireplace, furnace,
flute - A groove or channel, usually one of many such parallel
grooves, used decoratively, as along the shaft of a column.
flying buttress - A characteristic feature of Gothic construction
in which the lateral thrust of a roof is taken up by a bar of masonry,
carried on an arch, and a solid pier or buttress.
footprint - The extent of a building's impression in the earth.
form - The particular shape of a building.
foundation - The supporting member of a wall or structure.
frame house - A house of wood frame construction, usually sheathed
and covered with a siding material.
framing - A system of structural woodwork.
frieze - The middle horizontal member of a entablature, above
the architrave and below the cornice.
gable - The vertical triangular portion of the end of a building
having a double-sloping roof, from the cornice or eaves to the ridge of
gable roof - A roof having a gable at one or both ends.
gambrel roof - A roof which has two pitches on each side (frequently
found in barns).
garland - An ornament in the form of a band or wreath of leaves,
fruits, or flowers.
Georgian architecture - The prevailing style of the eighteenth
century in Great Britian and the North American colonies, so named after
George I, George II, and George III (1714-1820).
gingerbread - The highly decorative woodwork applied to Queen
Anne style houses, or the like.
girder - A large or principal beam used to support concentrated
loads at isolated points along its length.
glazing - Another term for glass or other transparent material
used in windows.
Gothic architecture - The architectural style of the Middle
Ages in Western Europe.
Gothic Revival - A movement originating in the eighteenth
century and culminating in the nineteenth century which aimed at reviving
the spirit and forms of Gothic architecture.
Greek Revival - See Classic Revival.
groundsill, ground beam, ground plate, mudsill, sole plate -
In a framed structure, the sill which is nearest the ground or on the ground;
used to distribute concentrated loads.
gutter - A shallow channel of metal set below and along the
eaves to catch and carry rainwater from the roof.
half-timber framing - A form of construction where the spaces
between a heavy timber framework are filled with bricks or plaster.
hanging post, gatepost, hinge post, swinging post - The post
on which a gate is hung.
header - 1. A masonry unit (such as a brick), laid so its ends
are exposed. 2. A framing member which crosses an opening such as a door
or window and supports the ends of joists, rafters, etc., transferring
their weight to parallel joists, rafters, etc.
herringbone pattern - A diagonal zigzag pattern of bricks.
hip - The external angle at the junction of two sloping roofs.
hipped end - The sloping triangularly shaped end of a hipped
hipped gable - see jerkinhead.
hip roof, hipped roof - A roof which slopes upward from all
four sides of a building.
hood - A cover placed above an opening to shelter it.
hood molding - Projecting molding over a door or window.
infill - A new structure built in a block of existing buildings.
internal dormer - A vertical window in a sloped roof; it is
not covered by a small pitched roof, but is set down from the slope of
the main roof.
International style - The functional architecture devoid of
regional characteristics. Created in Western Europe and in the United States
during the early twentieth century.
ironwork - Wrought or cast iron; usually decorative and often
Italianate style - The eclectic form of country-house design,
fashionable in England and the United States in the 1840s and 1850s, characterized
by low-pitched, heavily bracketed roofs, asymmetrical informal plan, square
towers, and often round-arched windows.
jack arch - See flat arch.
jamb - A vertical member at each side of a door or window frame.
jerkinhead, clipped gable, hipped gable - The end of a roof
when it is formed into a shape between a gable and a hip.
joist - One of a series of parallel timber beams used to support
floor and ceiling loads; supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or
keystone - The central block of a masonry arch. Until the
keystone is in place, the arch is not truly functional.
king post - In a truss, as for a roof, a vertical member extending
from the apex to the tie beam.
lancet, lancet window - A narrow window with a sharp pointed
arch; much used in Gothic architecture.
landmark - Any building, structure, or place which has a special
character or a special historical or aesthetic interest or value to a community.
lattice - A network, often diagonal, of narrow thin strips of
wood or iron, used as screening.
lean-to - A small extension to a building with a roof (of a
single slope) whose supports lean against the building.
light - 1. An aperture through which daylight is admitted to
a building's interior. 2. A pane of glass.
lintel - A horizontal structural member over an opening, which
carries the weight of the wall above it.
loft - Unceilinged space beneath a roof.
louver - An assembly of sloping, overlapping slats (fixed or
adjustable) designed to admit air or light in varying degrees while
excluding rain and snow.
mansard roof - A roof having a double slope, similar to a gambrel
roof, but where the lower slope is longer and steeper than the upper slope.
marquee - A fixed metal and glass canopy over an entrance to
massing - The bulk or size of a building.
modillion - A horizontal bracket, usually in the form of a scroll,
that helps support a cornice.
molded brick - A specially shaped brick, usually for decorative
molding - A member of construction or decoration that introduces
a variety of outlines or contours in edges or surfaces. Found on cornices,
bases, and door and window jambs.
mortar - The mixture of lime or cement or a combination of both
with sand and water, used as a masonry bonding agent.
mortar joints - The finished mortar surface between masonry
motif - A principal repeated element in an ornamental design.
mud room - A small entryway where muddy footwear may be removed.
mudsill - A sill usually laid directly on the ground.
mullion - A vertical member separating (and often supporting)
windows, doors, or panels set in a series.
muntin - A secondary framing member to hold panes of glass within
a window or glazed door.
Neo-Classical style - The dominant style of architecture during
the first half of the twentieth century. Closely related to Colonial
Revival but much more ornate in many of its details.
nogging - The filling of brick-work between timbers of a frame
open pediment - See broken pediment.
order - In classical architecture, a particular style of column
with its entablature having standardized details. The Greek orders were
Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
ordinary - A tavern, in early American communities.
orientation - The placement of a structure on a site with regard
to local conditions of sunlight, wind, drainage, and street frontage.
ornament - In architecture, every detail of shape, texture,
and color that is deliberately used or added to attract the attention of
overhang - The projection of an upper story or roof beyond a
story immediately below.
Palladian motif - A door or window opening in three parts, divided
by posts, with a lintel flat over each side, but arched over the center.
pane - A framed sheet of glass in a window or door.
panel - A portion of a flat surface that is recessed below the
surrounding area, sometimes set off by molding or other decorative
parapet - In an exterior wall, the part entirely above the roof.
patina - A thin oxide film which forms on a metal.
pavilion - On a facade, a prominent portion usually central
or terminal, identified by projection, height, or special roof forms.
pediment - The triangular gable end of a roof.
pendant - A suspended feature or hanging ornament.
pier - A column designed to support concentrated loads.
pilaster - A decorative feature that imitates a pier or a pillar
but is not a supporting member, often used as a simulated pillar on porches
pitch - The degree of slope of a roof.
plate - In wood-frame construction, timber laid horizontally
in a wall, on top of a wall, or on the ground to receive other timbers
pointing - In masonry, the final treatment of joints by the
troweling of mortar into them.
porch - A structure attached to a building to shelter an entrance
or to serve as a semi-enclosed space; usually roofed and generally open
portico - A small porch forming the entrance and centerpiece
of a facade; usually consisting of a pedimented roof supported by columns.
preservation - Maintenance of the existing form, integrity,
and material of a building or structure.
purlin - Timber laid horizontally to support the rafters on
which a roof covering is laid.
Queen Anne style - Eclectic style of domestic architecture of
the 1870s and 1880s in England and the United States; misnamed after Queen
Anne, but actually based on country-house and cottage Elizabethan architecture.
quoin - In masonry, the stones which form the external corner
of a building; sometimes distinguished decoratively from the adjacent masonry.
In Fredericksburg, some brick buildings have sandstone or granite quoins.
rafter - One of a series of inclined members to which a roof
covering is fixed.
rain leader - See downspout.
raking - Slope, as in a roof pitch.
rehabilitation - The process of restoring a building to a usable
rendering - A perspective or elevational drawing of a project
with artistic delineation of materials, shades, and shadows.
replication - A copy or reproduction of an original feature.
repoint -To remove deteriorated mortar and replace it with new
restoration - The process of returning a building to its original
form and condition by removing later work and/or replacing missing earlier
retaining wall - A wall that bears against the earth and resists
its lateral movement.
retrofit - To fit a building with parts or equipment not available
at the time of original construction.
Revival architecture - The use of older styles in new architectural
movements, such as Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, etc.
ridge - The horizontal line at the junction of the upper edges
of two sloping roof surfaces.
riprap - An arrangement of irregularly broken and random sized
stones thrown together without any attempt at regular structural arrangement.
riser - The vertical face of a stair step.
Romanesque Revival - The reuse in the nineteenth century of
the massive Romanesque style of construction characterized by heavy arches
and dramatic asymmetrical effects.
roof - The cover of a building, including the roofing and all
other materials necessary to carry and maintain it on the walls or uprights.
row house - One of an unbroken line of houses sharing one or
more sidewalls with its neighbors.
rustic joint - In stone masonry, a deeply sunk mortar joint
that has been emphasized by having the edges of the adjacent stones chamfered
or recessed below the surface of the stone facing.
saltbox - A wood-framed house, more common to colonial New England
than to Virginia, which has a short roof pitch in front and a long roof
pitch sweeping close to the ground, in back.
sash, window sash - Any framework of a window; may be movable
or fixed; may slide in a vertical plane (as in a double-hung window) or
pivot (as in a casement window). In describing window configuration, it
is common to refer to the number of panes in the upper and lower halves
of the sash (i.e. six-over-six, three-over-one, nine-over-nine, etc.)
scale - Relative or proportionate size.
screen - Any construction whose essential function is merely
to separate, protect, seclude, or conceal, but not to support.
scupper - An opening in a wall or parapet that allows water
to drain from a roof.
Second Empire style - A stylistic designation named after the
French Second Empire of Napoleon III (1852-1870), but referring to grand
eclectic architecture in the 1860s and early 1870s.
setback - The interval between a building and a property line.
shake - Any thick hand-split shingle or clapboard, usually edge-grained;
formed by splitting a short log into tapered radial sections.
sheathing - The covering placed over the exterior framing of
a building; provides a base for the application of wall or roof covering.
shed dormer - A dormer window whose eave line is parallel to
the eave line of the main roof instead of being gabled.
shed roof - A roof shape having only one sloping plane.
shingle - A roofing unit of wood, asphaltic or fiberglass material,
slate, tile, concrete, asbestos cement, or other material cut to stock
sizes; used as an exterior covering on sloping roofs and side walls; applied
in an overlapping fashion.
shutters - Solid or louvered movable window coverings.
sidelight - A framed area of fixed glass alongside a door or
siding, weatherboards - The finish covering of an exterior wall
of a frame building.
sill - 1. A horizontal timber, at the bottom of a wood frame,
which rests on the foundation. 2. The horizontal bottom member of a door
or window frame.
skirt-roof - A false roof between stories of a building.
skylight - An opening in a roof or ceiling, fitted with glass,
to admit daylight.
soffit - The finished undersurface of any overhead building
component, such as an arch, balcony, beam, cornice, or lintel.
soldier course - A course of bricks where the stretchers (long
sides) of the bricks are set vertically.
soleplate - A horizontal timber which serves as a base for the
studs in a stud wall or partition.
spall - A small fragment split off from the face of a stone
or masonry unit by a blow or by action of the elements.
span - The interval between two terminals of a construction.
spire - Any slender pointed construction surmounting a building.
stabilization - The reestablishment of a weather resistant enclosure
and structural stability of an unsafe or deteriorated property.
stack - A vent, as for plumbing.
standing seam metal - A roof covering of long sheets of metal
one edge of which is folded over the edge of the adjoining sheet and crimped,
forming a raised seam.
step - A stair unit that consists of one tread and one riser.
stile - One of the upright structural members of a frame, as
at the outer edge of a door or a window sash.
stoop - A platform or small porch at the entrance of a house.
stop - The molding or trim on the inside face of a door or window
frame against which the door or window closes.
story - The space in a building between floor levels, or between
a floor and a roof.
Streamline Moderne style - Architectural style during the 1930s
based on the streamlined effect of air gliding over an airfoil.
stretcher - A masonry unit laid horizontally with its length
in the direction of the face of the wall.
string course - A horizontal band or course, projecting beyond
or flush with the face of a building. Also called a belt course.
stringer - A long, heavy horizontal timber which connects the
posts in a frame which supports a floor.
stucco - An exterior finish, usually textured; composed of portland
cement, lime, and sand mixed with water.
surround - An encircling border or decorative frame.
terra-cotta - Hard, unglazed fired clay; used for ornamental
work and roof and floor tile.
texture - The tactile and visual quality of a surface or substance
other than its color.
tie beam - In roof framing, a horizontal timber, connecting
two opposite rafters to prevent them from spreading.
threshold - A strip fastened to the floor beneath a door; may
provide weather protection at exterior doors.
tracery - The openwork pattern within the upper part of a Gothic
transom - 1. The cross-bar separating a door from a window,
panel, or louver above it. 2. An opening over a door or window. 3. The
window area above the display windows and door of a commercial storefront.
transom light - A glazed light above the transom.
tread - The horizontal upper surface of a step in a stair.
trellis - An arbor or framework, sometimes including lattice,
for the support of vines or other vegetation.
triglyph - A Frieze ornament consisting of slightly raised vertical
bands separated by V-shaped grooves.
truss - A structure composed of a combination of members, usually
in a triangular arrangement, so as to constitute a rigid framework.
turned work - Wood pieces having a circular outline, such as
columns and balusters; usually cut on a lathe.
valance - The overhanging edge of an awning where a sign may
valley - The trough formed by the intersection of two inclined
planes of a roof.
vent - An opening, as in a wall, serving as an outlet for air,
smoke, fumes, or the like.
veranda - A covered porch or balcony, extending along the outside
of a building, planned for summer leisure.
Vernacular architecture - A mode of building based on regional
forms and materials. These structures are not generally designed by an
wainscot - A decorative or protective facing applied to the lower
portion of a wall.
water table - A projecting string course placed to divert rainwater
from a building.
weatherboards - Wood siding used as the exterior covering on
a building frame construction.
window - An opening in an external wall of a building to admit
light and (usually) air; usually glazed.
wing - A subsidiary part of a building extending out from the
wrought-iron - Iron that is hammered or forged into shape, usually
decorative, either when the metal is hot or cold.
Flemish diagonal bond
Standing seam metal roof