Terms have been adapted from “Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice; Second Edition” by Norman Tyler (copyright 2009). 


Balustrade – a railing composed of a series of upright members, often in a vase shape, with a top rail and often a bottom rail

Bay window –  an exterior ground level wall projection filled with windows; on an upper floor, called an oriel window

Bracket – a decorative element supporting a wall projection, cornice, or other exterior feature

Capital – The top portion of a column or pilaster

Corbel – wall projection used to support additional weight, most commonly constructed of brick

Cornice – decorative projecting element at the top of an exterior wall

Cupola – a small dome rising above a roof, usually with a band of small windows or openings

Dormer Window – a window and window structure that project from the slope of a roof

Double-Hung Window – window with two sashes, one above the other, each of which slides vertically

Eaves – lower edge of a roof extending beyond the exterior wall

Entablature – larger horizontal form setting on and spanning column capitals; it includes the architrave, frieze, and cornice

Façade – front exterior or face of a building

Fanlight – fan-shaped window, usually located over an entrance door

Finial – decorative ornament placed at the peak of a roof

Fret (Key Pattern) – repeating ornamentation in straight lines, often intersecting to create right angels. The ornamentation are the exact width to the spaces between each band. A geometrical ornament of horizontal and vertical straight lines repeated to form a band.

Frieze – decorative horizontal band located just below a cornice or gable

Gabel – triangular section of exterior wall just under the eaves of a double-sloped roof

Hip Roof – roof with slopes in the direction of each elevation, commonly in four directions 

Hoodmold – Developed to serve a largely decorative purpose, a hoodmold is molding projecting from the face of a wall immediately above an arch, opening, or window. 

Picture Window – large fixed window on an exterior wall, 

Portico – covered porch attached to the main façade of a building, supported by columns typically in the classical order. 

Ridgeline – The horizontal line formed by the juncture of two sloping planes, especially the line formed by the surfaces at the top of a roof.

Shed Roof – Single-pitched roof, often over a room attached to the main structure

Sidelight – narrow window located immediately adjacent to an entrance door.

Tracery – traditional intersecting ornamental work found in windows

Transom – Small window located immediately above a door.

Turret – Small tower located at the corner of a building, often containing a staircase. 

Vernacular – common domestic architecture of a region, which may draw from a range of architectural styles.