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Battlement on 725 Massachusetts Avenue

Battlement. Although you might associate this term with medieval buildings or a castle, Indianapolis historic buildings feature battlements as a decorative motif. Historically, battlements served in a defensive function for medieval castles, while in 19th and 20th century American architecture, they are used to embellish parapet walls. A battlement includes two features, the merlon, which is the solid section that rises vertically from the wall, and the crenel, the open space between each merlon. The subsequent use of several alternating merlons and crenels creates the battlement. One can also employ the term embattlement in the same function, while the term crenelated implies the use of battlements. As parapet walls are frequently used for commercial structures, one might find battlements among commercial or even residential architecture.

Apartment Building at 1601 North Delaware Street with Battlements

Our first example of a battlement is featured on 725 Massachusetts Avenue. This parapet wall includes a battlement with a stepped up feature in the center bay. Additionally, crosses within the bricks are created as openings below the merlon sections. The top of the battlement includes rowlock bricks, or bricks laid horizontally with the shorter end exposed. The paintwork on this structure helps accent the battlement and its unique brickwork.

Another example is found on the apartment building at 1601 North Delaware Street. This brick structure includes sparse ornamentation, with the parapet battlements as one of the only unique architectural features. The battlement includes the brick of the primary structure with a limestone cap accent.

Detail of 1601 North Delaware Street

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

We can hide the majority of the HVAC equipment behind the battlements of the parapet wall.

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