Building Language: Modillions

Written by on November 6, 2012 in Building Language - 1 Comment
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Ott Building, Wishard Health Services, 1001 West Tenth Street

Modillions. The architectural term modillions refers to architectural brackets that are placed horizontally instead of vertically. Typically, like brackets, modillions are placed at the roofline or on a soffit, regularly spaced, and may feature coffers between each modillion. Although modillions are a classical architectural term, they have been used in a wide variety of American architectural styles, including the Classical Revival to Italianate. The tip to determining if it’s a modillion – is the long end of the bracket horizontal instead of vertical? Then it’s a modillion!

Modillion details, Ott Building, Wishard, 1001 West Tenth Street

A great example of the use of the modillion is found at the historic Ott Building on the campus of Wishard Health Serves/IUPUI at 1001 West Tenth Street. This Classical Revival structure features a very tall colonnade supporting a pediment. Upon closer examination, the limestone pediment features scroll modillions along its three sides. The modillions are spread evenly apart and feature wonderful scroll and floral design.

Holy Rosary Church (520 Stevens Street)

The 1910 Holy Rosary Church (520 Stevens Street), located in the Holy Rosary-Danish Church Historic District, features modillions within the soffit in the dual, tall, steeple towers. These modillions also feature a scroll design, although it is much more minimal in ornament versus the Ott Building’s design. Once again, the modillions are spread evenly apart and feature the long end horizontally.

Modillion detail, Holy Rosary Church (520 Stevens Street)

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

The missing modillion stood out amongst the evenly spaced modillions in the soffit.

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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.

One Comment on "Building Language: Modillions"

  1. basil berchekas jr November 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm · Reply

    Must stay with this building style blog…

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