Building Language: Dormer Windows

Written by on November 27, 2012 in Building Language - 2 Comments
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Dormer windows on the Ovid Butler House (1306 N Park Avenue)

Dormer Windows. A dormer window is a window that projects out from a sloping roof, vertically placed, featuring its own structure with sides and a roof. The dormer window may feature a small gabled end over the window depending on its design and structure. A dormer window can provide light into an otherwise unlit attic space found within. Dormers will often take the same design and roof as the rest of the structure, but some examples may use different ornament to act as a contrasting feature. The dormer is common across many historic architectural styles, specifically residential, but can be found frequently in the Second Empire, Queen Anne, Stick Style, Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival styles.

An example of dormer windows is found on the Ovid Butler House (1306 North Park Avenue), a unique structure which features elements of the Greek Revival and Italianate due to early additions. Two dormer windows are prominently placed on the south (primary) elevation, found on the third floor of this estate. Each dormer features a rounded window with a triangular, gabled roof.

Dormer on this Jacobethan Revival residence in the 1200 Block of North Alabama Street

Another example in the Old Northside is this residence in the 1200 Block of North Alabama Street. This unique residence uses English details including exposed false half-timbering with stucco in a style sometimes used called the Jacobethan Revival. The dormer window on this residence maintains the same roof pitch, but steps out slightly from the roof slope. The unique window sashes include six panes each, with the same false-half timbering and stucco within the dormer. I’d imagine that’s a wonderful “Room with a View”!

Dormer on residence in the 600 Block of Woodruff Place Middle Drive

This residence in the 600 Block of Woodruff Place Middle Drive shows a uniquely designed dormer window. The dormer takes the same roof design (tile, hipped) as the overall structure, but the set of windows feature a fishscale shingle design in an accent color to the overall structure. The paint selection on this dormer really allows the feature to shine in this unique residence.

Add it to your vocabulary – how might one use today’s Building Language term in their everyday life?

Without the dormer windows, the attic would be an unusable space.

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About the Author

Raina Regan is an architectural historian employed by the Indiana National Guard. Her work encompasses statewide cultural resources projects with National Register eligible or listed structures. Raina has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Ball State University. Raina is an Indiana import by way of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan and loves the culture and architecture of the Midwest.

2 Comments on "Building Language: Dormer Windows"

  1. basil berchekas jr November 27, 2012 at 9:07 am · Reply

    Wish to stay with this series…excellent!

  2. Don Allen December 13, 2015 at 8:23 pm · Reply

    The bank that I work for has recently foreclosed on the property known as “The Holcomb Mansion.” I thought this might be of interest to you, based on your love for historical homes in the Indy area. It was the property of the Holcombs, who, I am sure you are aware, were major benefactors to Butler University in the 1920’s.
    If you have any interest in seeing this piece of Indianapolis history (and take pictures if you wish!), please contact me and I can arrange a tour for you.
    Don Allen
    Vice President of Sales
    Union Savings Bank
    5881 E. 82nd Street
    Indianapolis, IN 46250

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