I realized the other day it’s been months since we’ve talked about architectural jargon! So guess what we’re looking at today. Some jargon found frequently in preservation talk.
Today is being brought to us by the word….druuuummmm roooolllllll pleeeessseeee…..
Though, you might have already guessed that though based on this post’s title.
So anyways, you’re probably wondering what in good Italianate graces is a cupola?
Well here are some official definitions:
A History of American Architecture, Mark Gerlenter, 2001 edition, Pg. 322.
“A small tower-like element, often with a round or polygonal base and a domed roof, which accents the roof of a building.”
“The Historical Architecture of Vermont: Guide to Vermont Architecture,” Curtis B. Johnson, editor and Elsa Gilbertson, Principal Author, published by: the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1996, Pg. 25.
“Small decorative structure crowning the roof ridge, and usually used for ventilation.”
This is my definition, combining the above info with some other stuff I found online:
A cupola is a small tower-like structure that can be found on the roof of a building. The word “cupola” is derived from the Italian word cupula, which means small cup. The architectural feature can be round, square, or polygonal in shape. It typically has windows and can help with ventilation, especially in barns. Cupolas may also serve as a belfry (bell tower), a belvedere (a point to look out), or a roof lantern (provides natural light). Sometimes cupolas may be atop of a spire, tower, or another dome.
They are seen as a decorative element in the following architectural styles: Italianate, Octagon, Second Empire, and Greek Revival.
Let’s check out some images I have of cupolas!
This next example, is the only one I had in my collection of photos for Northern New York:
Here are some more examples from Canada and Saratoga Springs:
So those are some examples of cupolas. As you can see they can range in design and look great on a variety of buildings!
If you have any comments, thoughts, or ideas about cupolas or other architectural jargon, let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
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