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314 North Park Avenue in Lockerbie Square with Two Bargeboards on Main Roof

Bargeboard. Bargeboard is the term used for the elaborately decorated, often carved, wood boards attached along the edges of a gabled roof. The bargeboard, also known as a vergeboard, is primarily seen in houses with the Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, or Tudor styles. The bargeboard is commonly placed on the primary projecting gabled end of a roof, but can also be found along smaller gables on dormers or porches. When employed, bargeboards are typically part of a larger ornament scheme accenting a house. One might find bargeboards on a house that includes spindlework or false half-timbering.

Several historic houses throughout Indianapolis feature bargeboards as decorative elements. One example is found at 314 North Park Avenue in Lockerbie Square. This lovely Queen Anne features two bargeboards, one on the gabled end of the roof and a second on the gabled porch roof. Both bargeboards feature elaborate detailing, while the roof bargeboard is painted with a variety of colors to highlight to depth of the features and is focused on the apex of the gable roof. The smaller bargeboard helps accent the elaborate spindlework on the porch.

Another example is found on this house at 656 East St. Clair Street in the Chatham Arch neighborhood. The bargeboard is located on the gabled end on the east elevation and includes floral ornament set into the wood board. The central, pointed piece hanging down from the apex of the roof is known as a pendant.

656 East St. Clair Street in Chatham Arch with a Bargeboard

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

Painting the bargeboards on the roof was the most challenging part of repainting the house.

2 responses to “Building Language: Bargeboard”

  1. Chuck Schafer says:

    Nearly every workingman cottage in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood, where I grew up in the fifties, had this gable ornamentation. Whenever new siding (aluminum, fake brick, etc.) was added, they were torn off because of the difficulty of painting, and to ‘modernize’ the look of the house. New siding helped to hide the holes whenever a large picture window replaced the two double hung windows. Again, to modernize the look. It also meant no more painting!

  2. "Uncle Dave" Osborn says:

    ““` Thank you for this series of posts. I have been following them with great interest. Before I was forced to retire by a disabling illness, I was a housepainter. I much preferred restoration and preservation to what we called “production” work, i. e.: rapidly spraying vacant apartments all one vapid ecru, or painting new or nearly new bland, featureless exteriors. As far as I was concerned, the more festooned a home was with festively ornate trim, cutouts, spindles, and curlicues, the better. There IS no such thing as “over the top”! The phrase is a semantically null, promoted by the perceptually lazy. (I offer the example of Kemper House as my proof.) But—here’s the kicker—though over many years, I prepared, primed, and painted scores of bargeboards (and loved the task,) I never knew their proper name!

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