Mansard Roofs For Dollhouses in Modern and Vintage Styles

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1. Basic Design of a Mansard Roof

Classic second empire building with curved mansard roof, arched windows, dormers and corner quoins. "Custom’s House" Victoria B.C. built in 1876, Architect Thomas Seaton Scott. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

2. Classic Second Empire ‘French’ Style The Custom’s House / Malahat Building

For dollhouses the mansard roof often consists of slightly angled sides with a flat top, avoiding a more complex construction. These roofs give a maximum room area under a roof, and can be easily hinged or have roof ‘gardens’ and decks set on top. A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester, describes five different mansard roof styles: straight, straight with a bottom flare, concave, convex, and s-curves.

This photo of the ‘Custom’s House’ or Malahat Building in Victoria, Canada, shows a classic civic building built of stone and brick, with simplified versions of many basic features common to second empire design. The mansard roof on this building features a bottom flare, and has a roof deck to overlook the harbor. Missing from the design is a crested railing, which was often found on mansard roofs, especially ones with decks, where the railings often enclosed a ‘widow’s walk’. The building has corner quoins, arched hooded windows, bracketed eaves, a slate roof, and brick and stone detailing.

The details of this simplified ‘second empire’building are often seen in dollhouse designs for ‘town houses’ or French mansions.

Mansard roof with pedimented dormer windows on the Second Empire Style Victoria City Hall, constructed between 1878 and 1891. Architect John Teague. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

3. Mansard Roofs on Imposing Civic Buildings — Victoria’s City Hall

The second empire styles with their useful space under the mansard roof were also very popular for civic buildings and institutions. Victoria City Hall designed by architect John Teague, was constructed in Second Empire Style between 1878 and 1891. It features a metal mansard roof, pedimented dormer windows, clock tower, arched windows and doorways and quoins.

4. Mansard Roof Houses — The Classic "Haunted" House

Second empire style houses in the U.S often feature mansard roofs with a central tower or offset tower. This house style was used by Alfred Hitchcock for the house in "Psycho" and was also the style seen as the mansion inhabited by the Television "Adams Family" Mansion. Disney use this style of house for their ‘haunted mansions’. Wikipedia claimed that the use of this style for ‘haunted’ houses may have its origins in the Panic of 1893 in the United States, which led to the foreclosure and abandonment of many then-new houses, built in the second empire style.

Modern adaptation of second empire house style with three dormer windows in the mansard roof, including an oiel de boef, or bull’s eye dormer. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

5. References for Mansard Roof and Second Empire Details.

Great references for mansard roofs and buildings suitable for dollhouses and miniature ‘haunted’ houses.


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