New England Architecture | Guide to House Styles in New England
Second Empire houses are queenly. The diagnostic feature is the mansard roof carried like a crown on decorative brackets. With their projecting central pavilions, very tall windows, and iron roof cresting, these are the most stately of the Victorians. Queen Anne houses often look pointy and sometimes higgledy-piggledy, for it is in this type that the roofs are steepest and building most asymmetrical; corner bays and towers accentuate this effect. Spindlework porches, patterned shingling, and stained glass make this the archetypical gingerbread house.
Shingle houses are covered with shingles from top to toe and have less fancy trim work. With their smooth walls, multi-eaved roofline, and intersecting gables, they give the impression of a ship under full sail.
An excellent keep-in-the-car reference is A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester (Alfred A. Knopf; 1990).
To learn more about historic New England architecture (including houses open to the public) contact Historic New England, 141 Cambridge St., Boston, MA 02114; 617-227-3956.