What is this jargon?!

It’s going to be a nice day here in Northern New York, which is always good when exploring towns and villages in the area. This post is a beginning of a series called, “What is this jargon?!”

I’ve read a few guides on how to write about preservation for the general public and most of them say not to use jargon. AKA: the terms that people with preservation degrees use on a daily basis.

I disagree.

I think it’s important that people always continue learning throughout their life. I have a lot of education in history and preservation, so what better way to help people learn about the built environment in their own neighborhoods than by sharing my knowledge and using actual examples I see on my own adventures. Plus, pointing out random architectural features that you learn about, to your friends and family, educates them and makes yourself sound really smart, which is a win-win for all!

So let’s learn about preservation jargon, one word at a time, to make it not jargon.

Check out quoins, pronounced like “coins,” but they’re not the same thing.

Quoins are either blocks of stone, wood imitation stone, cast-iron panels, or brick that are located at the corners of buildings. Typically, quoins are arranged in alternating patterns of large and small blocks. They are a decorative detail seen on a variety of architectural styles including: Federal, Italianate, Colonial Revival, Beaux Arts, Italian Renaissance, and Second Empire. Some day we’ll look at these types of architectural styles one at a time.

There are lots of examples of quoins in the area!

This is a building I saw on Stone Street in Watertown, NY. The quoins are made of what looks like white stone, which makes for a great contrast to the red brick of the building.
This is the Ives Block located on Market Street in Potsdam, NY and it is part of the Market Street Historic District. It was constructed in 1882. When it was first built, the brick was actually yellow and the quoins were red sandstone! Both have been painted to the colors you see today, which is the complete opposite of the original colors.
This is Trinity Hall located on South Main Street in Geneva, NY; it is part of Hobart and William Smith College. It is one of the oldest buildings on campus. The building was constructed in 1837 of fieldstone and the quoins are stone, not sure what kind. Geneva is not really in Northern New York but it just shows that lots of architectural features can be seen all over New York State!

If you have seen any really cool building with quoins as a decorative feature share its location in the comments. On that note, if you have seen something interesting on your adventures and you don’t know what it is, send me a message and we can figure it out!