Essential Architecture-  Search by style

Second Empire Baroque Revival Architecture

France, 1870s
The canonical example of Second Empire style is the Opéra Garnier, in which Neo-Baroque meets Neo-Renaissance.
Paris Opera The canonical example of Second Empire style is the Opéra Garnier, in which Neo-Baroque meets Neo-Renaissance. Paris Opera interior Paris Opera interior
Construction of the New Louvre in Paris (now Musée du Louvre) in 1850-57 set a fashion for ornate mansarded structures elsewhere in Europe and America. Musée du Louvre Musée du Louvre
Australia, 1870-90s    
Hotel Windsor. Melbourne, Australia The Royal Exhibition Building. Melbourne, Australia South Melbourne Town Hall. Melbourne, Australia
Shamrock Hotel. Bendigo, Australia General Post Office. Melbourne, Australia Collingwood Town Hall. Melbourne, Australia
Post Office. Bendigo, Australia Court House. Bendigo, Australia Former Records Office. Melbourne, Australia
Canada, 1870s-80s    
Mackenzie Building, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario, 1878 Québec Parliament Building, Quebec city, Quebec 1886 Montreal City Hall
USA, 1870s    
Old Executive Building, Washington D.C. Old Executive Building, Washington D.C. Boston Old City Hall
Boston Old City Hall Old Executive Building, Washington D.C. Philadelphia City Hall- Detail of Exterior Sculptures
Philadelphia City Hall- Detail of Exterior Sculptures Hotel Vendome, Boston Woodburn Hall. Morgantown, West Virginia
New York, 1870s    
City Hall Post Office "Mullet's monstrosity" Temple Beth-El The Plaza Hotel
US domestic, 1870s    
Frank Jones Mansion, Portsmouth, New Hampshire    
United Kingdom    
Grosvenor Hotel, London (1860-62)    
The elaborate architecture of Paris in the 1850s and 60s—when it was rebuilt by Napoleon III—became the inspiration for the Second Empire style. Popular in America during the 1870s and early '80s, relatively few examples of the style, mostly houses survive.

Common characteristics are:

-intricate stone ornament surrounding doors and windows
-sloping "mansard" roofs, often with multi-colored slate shingles and elaborate dormers
-prominent cornices

Second Empire is an architectural style popular during the Victorian era, reaching its zenith between 1865 and 1880, and so named for the “French” elements in vogue during the era of the Second French Empire. While a distinct style unto itself, some Second Empire styling cues, such as quoins, have an indirect relationship to the styles previously in vogue, Gothic Revival and Italianate eras.

In the United States, the Second Empire style usually combined a rectangular tower, or similar element, with a steep, but short, mansard roof; the roof being the most noteworthy link to the style’s French roots. This tower element could be of equal height of the top most floor, or could exceed the height of the rest of the structure by a story or two. The mansard roof crest was often topped with an iron trim, sometimes referred to as “cresting”. In some cases, lightning rods were integrated into the cresting design, making the feature useful beyond its decorative features. The exterior style could be expressed in either wood, brick or stone. More elaborate examples frequently featured paired columns as well as sculptured details around the entrances, windows and dormers. The purpose of the ornament was to make the structure appear imposing, grand and expensive.

Floor plans for Second Empire residences could either be symmetrical, which placed the tower (or tower-like element) in the center or asymmetrical in nature in which the tower or tower-like element would be placed to one side.

The style also found its way in commercial structures, and was often used when designing state institutions. Several psychiatric hospitals proved the style's adaptability in their size and functions. Prior to the construction of The Pentagon in the 1940s, the Second Empire–styled Ohio State Asylum for the Insane in Columbus, Ohio was reported to be the largest building under one roof in the U.S., though the title may actually belong to Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, another Kirkbride Second Empire asylum.

Second Empire was succeeded by the Queen Anne Style era, and its sub-styles, which enjoyed great popularity until the rise of the “Revival Era” in American architecture just before the end of the 19th century.

Leland Roth refers to the style as "Second Empire Baroque." Mullett-Smith [see references] calls it the "Second Empire or General Grant style" due to its popularity in building government buildings during the Grand administration.

The architect H.H. Richardson designed several of his early residences in the style, "evidence [Ochsner, see references] of his French schooling." These projects include the Crowninshield House, Boston Massachusetts, 1868, the H.H.Richardson House, Staten Island, New York, 1868 and the Dorsheimer House, Buffalo, New York, 1868.

In regard to the use of the Second Empire style for residences, the McAlesters [see references] divided the style into 5 subtypes:

Simple mansard roof - about 20 % 
Centered wing or gable 
Asymmetrical - about 20 % 
Towered - about 30 % 
Town house 

Notable Second Empire buildings


In Canada, Second Empire became the choice of the new Dominion government in the 1870’s and 1880’s for numerous public buildings and the provinces followed suit.
MacKenzie Building at the Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario, 1878, Robert Gage, architect
Parliament Building (Quebec), Quebec City, Quebec, 1886, Eugène-Étienne Taché, architect
Montreal City Hall, 1878, Henri-Maurice Perrault and Alexander Cowper Hutchison, architects
Saint John City Market, 1876, McKean and Fairweather, architects[1]
Government House, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1883

United States

Old City Hall, Boston
George W. Fulton Mansion, Rockport, Texas, 1877
Alexander Ramsey House, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1868, Sheire and Summers, architects
Old City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, 1862-1865, Bryant and Gilman, architects
New York City Courthouse and Post Office, 1869–1875, Alfred B. Mullett, architect
Philadelphia City Hall 1871–1881, John McArthur Jr., architect
State, War and Navy Building, formerly called the Old Executive Office Building, now called the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 1871–1887, Alfred B. Mullett, architect, Washington D.C.
the "Old Post Office", 1873–1884, Alfred B. Mullett, architect, St. Louis, Missouri
2300 block, Chapline Street, Wheeling West Virginia
Hamilton Mansion, 1873, 330 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA, JD Hall Architect [2]
Mis Laura's (River Front Hotel) Bordello, 1898, originally at 123 North First Street but moved to 2 North B Street, Fort Smith, AR, National Register of Historic Places, added 1973 - Building - #73000391 [3]
South Hall, University of California, Berkeley, David Farquharson, architect
Terrace Hill, 1866-1869. State of Iowa governor's residence, Des Moines, Iowa.
Harker Hall, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Nathan Clifford Ricker, architect – oldest building on campus (built in 1878)


Hotel Windsor, Melbourne
Melbourne GPO, 1859–1907. Melbourne, Australia. A.E Johnson architect
Princess Theatre, 1866. Melbourne, Australia. William Pitt, architect.
Sydney Town Hall 1869–89. Sydney, Australia.
Chief Secretary’s Building 1890–95. Sydney, Australia. James Barnet, dome added by Vernon
Parliament House. 1868. Brisbane, Australia
Royal Exhibition Building, 1880. Melbourne, Australia. Joseph Reed, architect.
South Melbourne Town Hall, 1879–80. Melbourne, Australia. Charles Webb
Hotel Windsor, 1883. Melbourne, Australia. Charles Webb
Collingwood Town Hall, 1885. Melbourne, Australia. George R Johnson architect
Former Records Office, 1900. Melbourne, Australia. S.E. Brindley architect
Shamrock Hotel, 1888. Bendigo, Australia.
Bendigo Court House, 1892. Bendigo, Australia.
Bendigo Town Hall, 1859. Bendigo, Australia
Willsmere, former Lunatic Asylym, Kew, Victoria

Victorian Second Empire c. 1840—c. 1890 In 1852 Louis Napoleon, president of the French Republic, proclaimed himself Emperor Napoleon III and immediately strove to surpass the grandeur of Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire by making Paris ‘Ia plus belle yule du monde’. Baron Haussmann, prefect of the Seine département, did much to materialise the Emperor’s desires by demolishing old, congested areas of the city and creating monumental boulevardes lined by elegant townhouses and fine public buildings. The luxury and opulence in which Parisians delighted during the Second Empire was epitomised by the sumptuous Opera House (186 1—74) designed by Charles Garnier, one of the brightest stars of L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. But the building of the period that was most influential outside France was the New Louvre (1852—57), in which the French Renaissance style was revamped and unerringly attuned to the aims and aspirations of the emperor’s regime. Some of the more important features of the Second Empire style are pavilion planning, high mansard roofs punctuated by square domes and truncated pyramids, the lush enrichment of wall surfaces, coupled columns, swags, and segmental pediments. Ornament is often profuse, but it is always controlled, clear and crisp. The influence of the style was felt in Britain and in many parts of northern and central Europe. Second Empire was especially appropriate and popular for large hotels. The style crossed the Atlantic to America, where it was used for public buildings and, in both masonry and timber, for domestic architecture. An important role in the introduction of contemporary French architectural thought to America was played by Richard Morris Hunt, who was the first American to study at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and who subsequently worked on the New Louvre before returning to his homeland to start what was to become a large and successful practice.
Second Empire 1860-1885

1301 Broadway, Galveston, Texas

This style was modeled after the the opulent architecture of Paris during the reign of Napoleon III, but it was also practical because the height allowed by the Mansard roof provided additional living space on small city lots. This roof makes better use of the top floor, and fits better with the scale of lower buildings, when used on 3-4 story houses. Second Empire is basically an Italianate design topped with a double-pitched Mansard roof. Both Italianate, and Second Empire houses tend to be square in shape, and have U-shaped window crowns, decorative brackets, and single story porches.

1101 23rd Street, Galveston, Texas

Second Empire homes usually have many of these features:
Mansard roofs; often using multi-colored slate shingles
Brackets beneath the eaves, balconies, and bay windows
Dormer windows; projecting from the roof
Pedimented and bracketed slender windows
Rounded cornices at top and base of the roof
Arched double doors
2-4 stories
Projecting porches

Some Second Empire homes also have these features:
Wrought iron cresting above upper cornices
Classical pediments
Paired columns
Tall windows on the first story

Thanks to
Link- NY