Leader Head. Here’s a little known architectural term that provides important support to historic buildings. A leader head refers to the box like structure found on a downspout, connected to either the gutter or a scupper. A leader head helps distribute water from the roof or gutter into the downspout. A leader head can be plain to match the adjoining gutter and downspout or may feature some type of ornamentation. The leader head will typically use the same type of metal found on the gutters/downspouts. The leader head is a simple architectural feature that serves an important role in the distribution of water away from the roof and walls.

Leader Heads on Lone Hall, Arsenal Tech (1500 East Michigan Street)

Our first example of a leader head is found on Lone Hall (1922) on the campus of Arsenal Technical High School (1500 East Michigan Street). Lone Hall features both gabled-end and flat roofs. The top, gabled roof, features gutters along its eaves, which distribute to leader heads with downspouts. The bottom, flat roofs feature scuppers that open into identical leader heads. Both uses of the leader head feature slight ornamentation, with a decorative panel laid over the square box. The intriguing element is the peculiar downspouts that lead from the gutters to the leader head on the top roof – it’s not often you see curved downspouts like that!

Leader Heads on the Murat (502 North New Jersey Street)

The Murat Theater (502 North New Jersey Street), described by Tiffany in this great Friday Favorite post, features a version of the leader head within the gutters. As you can see, larger leader head boxes are placed within the gutters (directly below the A.A.O.N.M.S. inscription). These leader heads connect to the (much) smaller downspouts. The boxes help when excessive water into the gutters may cause a backup into the downspouts.

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

Removing the leader heads forced the gutters to spill water off to the side.