Abacus – the uppermost member of a capital of a column.

Acanthus – an architectural ornament, usually found on the lower portion of the capitals of Corinthian
and/or Composite order columns that resembles the large, spiny leaves of the acanthus plant.

Adaptive use – converting a building to a different use such as converting a single family house into a
professional office building.

Alteration – any construction or change to a resource.

Arbor – frame covered with vines or shrubs.

Arcade – walkway or porch covered by a series of arches resting on pillars.

Architectural review board – an appointed board of professionals and laymen authorized under local
ordinance to review modifications to historic buildings and districts.

Architrave – ornament or molding at, above and beside a door or window; the lowest part of an
entablature.

Ashlar block – a square or rectangular hewn masonry building block.

Balconet – low ornamental railing outside a door or window.

Balcony – platform wall projection enclosed by a railing.

Balloon frame – wood frame construction method, referring to the skeletal framework of a building,
in which the entire structural framework is in the exterior walls, with studs or uprights run from sills to
eaves, with horizontal bracing members nailed to them.

Baluster – a post supporting a railing.

Balustrade – a row of balusters joined by a rail and beside stairs or enclosing a balcony, patio, etc.

Bargeboard – decorative board set under a gable roof; sometimes called vergeboard or gingerbread
trim.

Baroque – architecture style featuring heavy ornamentation and curves.

Barrel tile – C-shaped roofing tile, usually made of terra cotta clay, used on Spanish Revival buildings.

Bas-relief – nearly flat sculpture in which the figures project only slightly.

Batten – narrow strip of wood.

Battlement – low wall with spaces to shoot through.

Bay – the division of a façade of a building defined by window and door openings.

Bay window – a window, or series of windows, projecting out from a wall to form an alcove inside.

Beam – a structural support for rafters, window frames, etc.

Beltcourse – a line of stone running horizontally across a building.

Belvedere – an open pavilion on top of a building that provides a view.

Board-and-batten – row of boards with battens covering the cracks where the boards meet.

Braced frame – a wooden structural system consisting of heavy corner posts and heavy horizontal
timbers and light, closely spaced studs nailed between the horizontal timbers.

Bracket – decorative support for a projection.

Canales – a Spanish term for a water spout used to drain water from the roof; a feature of Spanish
Colonial and Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings.

Canopy – cloth opening over a doorway.

Cantilever – a beam or bracket projecting from a wall to support a balcony, roof, etc.

Capital – top of a column, pillar, or pilaster.

Cartouche – sculpted ornament that resembles an unrolled scroll.

Casement window – hinged on the side.

Cement – compound made from powdered lime and clay; used as an ingredient in concrete and
mortar.

Certificate of appropriateness – A document evidencing approval by the Historic Preservation Board
or the Historic Preservation Division for work proposed by an applicant.

Chamfer – a 90 degree corner cut to reduce it to two 45 degree edges.

Chevron – v-shaped or zigzag design.

Cinder block – concrete block containing coal cinders instead of gravel.

Cladding – an outer veneer of materials applied to the exterior walls of a building.

Clapboard – wooden board, sometimes called a weatherboard, with one edge thinner than the other;
used horizontally for frame facades.

Coffer – a sunken panel in a ceiling, vault, or dome.

Collar beam – a beam connecting rafters.

Column – a vertical support consisting of a base, shaft and capital.

Colonnade – row of spaced columns supporting a roof.

Composition shingles – a modern roofing material composed of asphalt, fiberglass, or asbestos.

Concrete – hard masonry material made of sand, gravel, cement, and water.

Contributing property – a property that contributes to the historic significance of a historic district by
location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association and thus adds to the district’
s sense of time, place and historical development.

Coping – a protective cap, top, or cover of a wall, chimney, or pilaster.

Coquina rock – soft pinkish-beige limestone made of shells and coral; Quarry Key Stone originally
was supplied by Mizner Industries, Inc.

Corbel – decorative bracket supporting balconies, beams, parapets, etc.

Cornice – decorative horizontal molding on top of a wall.

Course – row of bricks or stones.

Crenellation – a decorative feature that replicates the pattern of openings of a defensive parapet;
frequently associated with the Moorish and Gothic Revival styles.

Cresting – the decorative railing along the ridge of a roof.

Cupola – small domed structure on top of a building.

Demolition – any act or process that partially or totally destroys a resource.

Dentil – cube-shaped molding.

Denticulation – having a cornice molding consisting of a series of small, tooth-like, square or
rectangular blocks (dentils).

Dogtrot – covered breezeway between two parts of a building.

Dormer – the roofed projection in which a dormer window is set.

Dormer window – window set upright in a sloping roof.

Double-hung window – window with two moving sashes, one above the other.

Drop siding – a siding in which the upper portion of each board has a concave curve.  Also known
as novelty, rustic, and German siding.

Eave – projecting roof edge that hangs out over a wall.

Eclectic – from two or more styles.

Elevation – a two dimensional representation or drawing of an exterior face of a building.

Entablature – elements (cornice, frieze and architrave) above a column.

Escutcheon – metal faceplate around a keyhole.

Façade – exterior face of a building.

Fanlight – semicircular window, often with radiating mullions, over a door or window.

Fascia – any flat band that projects slightly.

Fenestration – window design, placement or pattern.

Finial – top ornament on a post, gable, spire, etc.

Flashing – material placed at roof joints to keep water from penetrating.

Flue – tube or shaft in a chimney through which the smoke passes.

Fluted – having parallel grooves.

Fluting – the vertical channeling on the shaft of a column.

Footprint – the outline of a building’s ground plan from a top view.

French doors – two adjoining doors with glass panes from top to bottom that are hinged entablature.

Frieze – horizontal band between the cornice and the architrave in and at the sides to open from the
middle; decorative wooden molding located at the point where the eave meets the exterior wall.

Frontispiece – a decorated front wall or bay of a building.

Gable – triangular wall topped by a ridged roof.

Galley – balcony; covered walkway or porch; upper story porch or walkway running along the
façade of a building.

Gambrel roof – roof with two slopes on each side, and the lower slope steeper than the upper slope.

Garland – an ornament in the form of a band, wreath, or festoon of leaves, fruit, flowers or oats.

Half-timbering – a method of construction in which vertical structural members were in-filled with
brickwork or plaster.

Header – brick or block end.

Hip roof – roof formed by four pitched roof surfaces.

Historic district – a geographically definable area designated by a governmental body as possessing a
significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of properties united historically or aesthetically by plan
or physical development.

Hood molding – protective or decorative cover over a door or window.

I-House – a two story house, two rooms wide and one story deep

Infill - a new building constructed on a vacant lot within a historic district.

Inglenook – corner by a fireplace.

Jalousie – a type of window comprised of a series of horizontal slats connected to a mechanical
device operated by a crank.

Jamb – window or door’s vertical side piece.

Jerkinhead – a roof form characterized by a clipped gable.

Joist – beam supporting a ceiling or floor.

Keystone squares – limestone quarried in the Florida Keys.

Knee braces – vertical wooden supports for long rafter beams, frequently utilized in the construction
of Bungalow style residences.

Lally column – a metal support column filled with concrete.

Lancet window – tall narrow window topped with a sharply pointed arch.

Lattice – interlocking lath used for screening; a panel of crisscrossed, diagonal or perpendicular slate
often utilized as decorative infill between masonry foundation piers.

Light – a single pane of glass.

Lintel – horizontal beam above a door or window.

Loggia – covered porch.

Louver – a small opening comprised of overlapping, downward-sloping slats, which shed rain while
admitting light and air.

Mansard roof – hip roof with two slopes on each side, and the lower slope (often with dormers)
much steeper than the upper slope.

Masonry – construction materials such as stone, concrete, tiles, and brick.

Massing – the arrangement of the various geometric forms of a building into a whole.

Medallion – a circular tablet, ornamented with embossed or carved figures or patterns.

Modillion – ornamental bracket supporting a projecting cornice on a Corinthian column.

Molding – decorative or finishing strip between two architectural elements.

Mullion – dividing bar between panes of glass or panels of screen.

Muntin – the small members that divide glass in a window frame; vertical separators between panels
in a panel door.

Newel – the post in which a handrail is framed.

Niche – a cavity in a wall to receive a statue or other ornament.

Non-contributing property – a classification applied to a property within a historic district signifying
that it does not contribute to the qualities that give the historic district cultural, historical, architectural,
or archaeological significance as embodied in the criteria for designation of a district, but which
because of its location within a district must follow the review procedures required by the historic
preservation ordinance.

Oolitic limestone – grey or beige limestone made of oolite: small grains of carbonate of lime cemented
together to form a sedimentary rock.

Order – in classical architecture, the specific configuration and proportions of a column, including the
base, shaft, capital and entablature.

Ornamentation – collection of architectural decorations.

Outrigger – a beam extending outward from a main structure to support the projection of a floor or
roof.

Palladian window – a window composed of a central arched sash flanked on either side by smaller
side lights.

Parapet – low wall or railing.

Patio – open interior courtyard.

Pavilion – a tower-like projecting element on an exterior wall, usually at the center or at each end of
a building.

Pecky cypress – cypress wood textured with many small, shallow holes.

Pedestal -  a support for a column, pilaster, status or urn.

Pediment – small gables or curved decorations over doors, windows, niches, etc.; a triangular piece
of wall above the entablature which fills in and supports the sloping roof.

Pent roof – single sloping roof supported by brackets or braces over a window, door, porch,
balcony, etc.

Picket – upright slat, usually pointed, used in a fence.

Pilaster – rectangular pier or support.

Pitch – degree of inclination.

Pivot window – a hinged window which opens out with the aid of a mechanical crank.

Platform framing – framing in which studs only extend one floor at a time and the floor joists of each
floor rest on the top plant of the story below.

Porch – covered entrance, usually with its own roof; an open or enclosed room on the outside of a
building.

Porte cochere – large covered entrance porch under which vehicles can drive.

Portico – porch covered by a roof supported by columns.

Portland Cement – variety of cement made by kiln-firing limestone.

Post and beam – through maintenance and stabilization.

Preservation – sustaining a building’s existing form, integrity, and materials.

Purlin – a roof timber placed horizontally on the principal rafters to support the common rafters on
which the roof covering is laid.

Quarry tile – stone slabs such as granite or limestone, used for floors or decorative surfaces.

Quatrefoil – a four lobed or leaf-shaped curve.

Quoin – large stones or other materials used to decorate and accentuate the corners of a building,
laid vertically, usually with alternating large and small blocks.

Rafter – beam extending from a roof’s ridge to its eaves.

Rafter tail – the exposed end of a rafter that projects beyond a wall.

Rehabilitation – returning a building to a usable condition while preserving some of the significant
features.

Rejas – projecting wooden grillwork protecting exterior windows.

Relocation – any change in the location of a building from its present setting to another setting.

Resource – a building, site, structure, object, or district.

Restoration – replacing missing original details and removing later changes to bring a building back to
its original state.

Return – usually a cornice return, where the cornice is carried a short distance onto the gable end of
a building.

Ridge – the horizontal line where two roof slopes meet at the top.

Roof brackets – supporting or decorative members under eaves.

Roof pitch – the degree of slope or inclination of a roof.

Rusticated block – concrete block molded to resemble rough split or hewn stone.

Sash – frame holding a glass pane.

Scale – the proportions of a building in relation to its surroundings, particularly other buildings in the
surrounding context.

Setback – a term used to define the distance a building is located from a street or sidewalk.

Scupper – opening in a roof’s parapet that allows water to drain away from the roof.

Sgraffito – a decorative effect achieved by cutting or scratching through a layer of plaster, stucco or
paint.

Shaft – the part of a column between the base and the capital.

Shed dormer – dormer whose roof slopes in the same direction as the main roof.

Shed roof – a roof made with one pitched surface.

Sidelight – narrow window beside a door or larger window.

Sill – stone or beam upon which a building rests; the bottom part of a door or window frame.

Soffit – under part of a cornice, eave, arch, etc.

Spacer – brick or block side.

Spandrel – triangular space between an arch and a rectangular frame enclosing the arch.

Stabilization – protecting a building from deterioration.

Street furniture – benches, trash receptacles, signs, lights and poles.

Stringcourse – a decorative horizontal band of brick, stone, wood, etc.

Stucco – plaster or cement, usually made of lime or gypsum with sand or marble dust, used to cover
walls.

Structural glass – glass building blocks, reinforced plate glass, or pigmented structural glass.

Stud – upright support in a building’s frame.

Tabby – a primitive form of concrete, made by mixing equal parts of sand, lime, water, and oyster
shell.

Terra cotta – reddish clay fired to form bricks, tiles, ornaments, etc.

Terrazzo – floor materials made of small marble chips set in concrete and polished.

Tongue-and-groove – joint in which the tenon, or tongue, on one board fits into a groove on the
adjoining board.

Transom – small horizontal panel or window above a door or larger window.

Trellis – a frame supporting open latticework, used as a support for growing vines or plants.

Tripartite – divided into three parts.

Underlayment (sheathing) – the boards which are nailed on roof rafters and over which the roof
covering is laid.

Valley – the horizontal line where two roof slopes meet at the bottom.

Veranda – in Florida, a porch extending along more than one elevation of a building.

Vergeboard – decorative board set under a gable roof; sometimes called bargeboard or gingerbread
trim.

Vernacular – native to a specific area.

Viga – a projecting rounded roof beam found in Colonial and Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings.

Wainscot – the lower three or four feet of an interior wall when finished differently from the
remainder of the wall.

Weatherboard – wooden board, sometimes called a clapboard, with one edge thinner than the other;
used horizontally for frame facades.

Whitewash – mixture of lime, cement, salt, and water used for coating walls.

Woodite – fibrous material developed by Mizner Industries, Inc. and made of plaster and wood
shavings; used to duplicate wood carvings.

Wrought iron – hammered iron used for gates, stair rails, lanterns, etc.
Florida Historic Homes
Historic National      Historic Florida     Historic Palm Beach County    Historic West Palm Beach
Architectural Styles    Historic Features&Tips    Resources    Glossary
Home     News     Events      Site Map     Contact Me
GLOSSARY
Do you have an interest in
purchasing or selling an
historic property?
Contact me - It's my specialty!
cullen@digital.net
www.lindacullen.com