Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.
Carpenter Gothic: Architecture & Style
What is Carpenter Gothic Architecture?
Sometimes architects take elements of older styles and use them in different ways. A good example of this is Carpenter Gothic architecture.
Carpenter Gothic is a style of architecture found mostly in the United States. It developed as part of the larger Gothic Revival movement, which used elements of a medieval architecture style called Gothic to decorate homes and public structures like churches. Most Carpenter Gothic structures were built between the 1840s and the 1860s. They took Gothic characteristics and translated them from stone structures--most Gothic buildings had been massive stone cathedrals--into buildings made of wood.
Carpenter Gothic was used on residential buildings and small churches, often in more rural areas. In a way, it was sort of like a folk version of Gothic. It had Gothic elements like pointed arched windows and towers but didn't bother to follow more formal rules of Gothic architecture.
Two other situations made Carpenter Gothic architecture possible. One was technology. The development of tools like the fret or scroll saw, which could cut out very detailed curving patterns, enabled elaborate wood decorative panels. The other element was mass production. By the mid-19th century, industrial technology like steam-powered jigsaws meant decorative wooden parts could be pre-cut in large numbers. This made decorative architectural parts economical and easily available to more people.
Style Elements of Carpenter Gothic
You can recognize Carpenter Gothic architecture by several identifying features. Buildings using this style are usually houses or churches. They often have steeply pitched roofs with gables. This means two roof sections meet at a steep angle, and they often have a triangular part between them. Windows and doors are often in the form of pointed arches. The ends of the gables are sometimes decorated with bargeboards or vergeboards, sections of decorative trim with open scroll work.
Carpenter Gothic structures often have carved porch posts and railings, and other elements that provide a strong vertical emphasis. Sometimes you'll also see these structures with board and batten siding, vertical wooden panels with small strips covering the gap between them.
Now you know how to identify Carpenter Gothic architecture. The next time you're traveling, or even walking in your neighborhood, look around. Can you find any examples of this style near you?
Carpenter Gothic is an architectural style that was part of Gothic Revival architecture. It was used for homes and churches mostly in the United States in the mid-19th century. It took elements of a medieval style called Gothic and used them for a more modest, decorative style. Technology and mass production made Carpenter Gothic more affordable because decorative pieces could be pre-cut and produced at less cost.
Style elements that identify Carpenter Gothic include gable roofs, made of two steep roof sections connected by a triangular segment, and pointed arches on doors and windows. The ends of the gables might be decorated with bargeboard or vergeboard, decorative trim sections of open scrollwork that were placed on gable ends. These structures also have decorative carved porch posts and other elements that emphasize vertical lines. This might also include board and batten siding.
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