(Picture courtesy of martinvirtualtours at flickr.com.)
Travelling through the countryside around rural Pennsylvania one of the treats is seeing houses elaborately decorated with trim that scrolls around eaves and angles. The work I know as ‘gingerbread’ shows up on many of the older large homes, and can be truly lovely.
When I looked up gingerbread architecture, I was surprised to find almost no source, and feature the one, a definition, found below.
Gingerbread; in architecture and design, elaborately detailed embellishment, either lavish or superfluous. Although the term is occasionally applied to highly detailed and decorative styles, it is more often applied specifically to the work of American designers of the late 1860s and ’70s. During the post-Civil War period of affluence, a style that has come to be known as “stick style” was employed in the decoration of both public and private buildings. Every external vertical or oblique surface of these buildings and many an arch were decorated with fanciful hand-carved wooden latticework.
The principal architectural feature of this style, which was loosely derived from the Picturesque period of English architecture of the 1830s, was the veranda. Beach resorts on the Atlantic Ocean, such as Cape May in New Jersey and Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., provide excellent examples of stick work, as do the opera houses and mansions of the mining boomtowns of the Wild West.
There are many sources of gingerbread work for sale, but as art and architecture I found a wasteland when looking for information. This post is just done for the purpose of filling in, and you can probably find examples not far from you, too.
While most building today features plain lines, there is still a market for gingerbread work, and I find ads selling it. There are many older homes in this area that show a taste for the elaborate details of gingerbread.