Talk:Second Empire architecture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Architecture (Rated Start-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Architecture, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Architecture on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Home Living (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Home Living, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Home on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the importance scale.

Please provide some images of examples of this style.

You cite Opera Garnier as the canonical example of Second Empire style... yet when you go to the Opera Garnier page, it describes itself as being designed in the Neo-Baroque style... I don't think that both can be correct.

  • Added an image and removed image request template. --ScottyBoy900Q 16:56, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


Wondering if anyone could help me verify this piece of info:

Prior to the construction of The Pentagon in the 1940s, the Second Empire–styled Ohio State Asylum for the Insane in Columbus, Ohio was documented as the largest building under one roof in America, proving the style's adaptability.

I can only find articles here and there (not wholly reputible sources, either) that claim it was the largest building. There is no mention of footprint size (foundation) or total square feet. However, the exact same claim is made for Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, which does have verifiable square-foot information on the building. I know every building wants its claim to fame, but I find it bizarre that these two Kirkbride buildings would both have the same claim attached to them. Any help would be appreciated. Rkitko 11:21, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Revival of what?[edit]

This phrase puzzles me "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." what exactly is the "Revical Era" is it the Gothic Revival, which contrary to the claim in the lead never fell out of fashion in certain areas of design, or is it something else compltely. Giano | talk 09:25, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

I suspect that this refers to the Classical Revival phase that was kicked off by the Columbian Expo in 1893. The Gothic Revival - used mostly for educational purposes did not really get going until the early 20th Century. There were a couple of Gothic revivals, but the one that never went out of style is/was the use of Gothic for churches. At least this is my opinion as to what this is about. Feel free to improve the article so that it makes better sense to you, and hopefully everyone. Carptrash 16:21, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
  • I think the problem here, is one of transatlantic differences. We on the European side regard the Gothic revival as having started in the late 18th century and continuing until at least 1914, and you are saying on the American side that is not the case. I don't feel confident enough to edit this page, as I think it also probable (from reading the page so far) that the American version of "Second Empire" is not exactly comparable to what is understood here in Europe. To my mind the Opera Garnier is not "Second Empire" at all but a Neo-Renaissance building with Baroque influences - where are the particular "Second Empire" features? being built during the time of the second French empire is not a good enough reason - However, far greater experts than me have differing opinions on this, so I don't think I'll become involved in "Second Empire (Wikipedia style)" - it's far too much of an architectural minefield. Giano | talk 18:10, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Although American architectural historians [wikipedia style] are a opinionated lot I would not characterize any of the discussions that I have been involved in by using any war [i.e. minefield] terminology. You do raise an interesting point about the role of the Atlantic in these articles and it might be best to turn this article into a "Second Empire style in America" one and let the Europeans do what they will with their buildings. In America the term Second Empire is pretty widely used and understood. I think the name was chosen because Americans [opinion] have frequently felt like Europe's country cousins, at least in the architecture world. Thus the term Second Empire, with its nod toward some French precursors was easily employed. This style, even when used for residences, was considered to be flashy, expensive and "European" witnessed by the fact that the style pretty much gets absorbed by the slightly less pretentious Italianate style. Hmmm, I wonder how wikipedia is dealing with that one? Carptrash 15:38, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Hmmm! Well having just clicked and read Italianate one can only say "Oh dear!" Italianate is in fact a form on Neo-renaissance. The information on the Italianate page, to put it politely, is not something I would agree with 100%. Giano | talk 22:39, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, you might be more inclined to agree with it [perhaps up to 87% ?] if the article were just about American Italianate. I just discovered the article while writing to you [see UP] so have only glanced over it, but as a description of the Italianate style as it is the the United States, it's okay. In the US [in my opinion] Neo-renaissance revival would be much more formal designs. Italianate dwellings were usually built as vernacular constructions, designed and built by local builders without an architect, much like the Greek Revival had been a generation earlier. So perhaps I'll go to these articles and toss in a prominent "As used in the United States" right at the beginning. Carptrash 00:25, 30 April 2006 (UTC) and now let's see what Greek Revival gets us into. eeek


While excellent, the images don't really belong in the main body of the article. Because they're all in the imagespace, an easy link can't be created to all of them. I would encourage whoever is working on this page to move all of the public domain or GFDL photos to Wikimedia Commons (reupload them) so that other wiki projects can use them. Categorize them and then remove these photos from the page in favor of a link to the Commons category or page with the photos. --Rkitko 21:04, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

By images, I mean the image gallery section. The other in-text images are necessary. The ones under the section "Images" are extraneous. --Rkitko 21:18, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I hardly think this is clearly the primary meaning of the term "Second Empire". I propose moving this page to "Second Empire (architecture)" or something like that and turning "Second Empire" into a disambiguation. If anything, I would regard the Second French Empire as the primary meaning. PatGallacher (talk) 01:43, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

Second Empire and Napoleon III style are two articles for the same thing. Even French Wikipedia notes that at fr:Style Second Empire. Strongly suggest we merge the Napoleon III stub into this with a redirect. Shawn in Montreal (talk) 03:06, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

What the Britannica says is:**An important variation of the Second Empire style was the Napoleon III style, which characterizes buildings constructed during the massive rebuilding of Paris administered by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann between 1853 and 1870. In the scale of their conception, these buildings seem designed more on an urban than on an individual architectural plan; thus, the extension to the Louvre (mentioned earlier), the excellent Paris Opera House (Charles Garnier, 1861–74), the railway stations, Tribunal de Commerce, and other such public buildings, by their isolation, greater size, and richer ornamentation, dominate the miles of apartment-house facades with ground-floor shops that line the many streets cutting through the city. The facades of the public buildings have in common a high elevation with mansard roofs; only the most important buildings have pavilions. The designs show a crispness of line and a subdued diversity and richness of decorative detail that sets them apart from Second Empire style elsewhere, as does their tendency to maintain a general urban homogeneity, especially throughout central Paris.
As to whether or not I'm crazy about the Montréal city hall, see these Google results. Clearly the term is used, even if synonymously with "Second Empire". Srnec (talk) 04:06, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
"Even if synonymously with "Second Empire"" is indeed the point: if it is used interchangeably, then there should not be a separate article. That said, the Britannica quote offered above would seem to make a case for a distinct Napoleon III entry. Problem is, I don't see that passage in the sole External link offered in the Napoleon III stub. While I do assume good faith, I would like to be able to see one or two reliable sources, for myself, that make the case that Napoleon III is sufficiently distinct so as not to simply be included as another name for the same thing, as is the case in French Wikipedia.Shawn in Montreal (talk) 16:16, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
It is used interchangeably some places, I admit. That's why I didn't put the Montréal information back in the article. But it is not used interchangeably, for instance, in the Britannica. I have posted the text above. The distinction is clear; to the author of the Britannica entry, it is not "another name for the same thing". That is one reliable source, and better than the French Wiki. Srnec (talk) 02:52, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't have access to the full Britannica -- is it by subscription? Anyway, I take your word for it. But let's see if other editors have anything to add. Thanks, Shawn in Montreal (talk) 02:56, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, online by subscription (which I have through a university). The paragraph I quoted is all the relevant information. I don't know why the external link won't work. More than happy to let other chime in, though. Srnec (talk) 02:59, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
BTW, I had added the "stub" tag not as a criticism, but as a way to invite others to add to the Napoleon III article. You might want to replace it, but it's up to you. And if a separate Napoleon III article is retained, based on such RS as the Britannica entry, you may wish to try adding Napoleon III to the Revivals architecture template. cheers, Shawn in Montreal (talk) 03:06, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
I just think that stub tags are generally worthless, since I doubt they accomplish what they are intended to. If you put it back, I wouldn't remove it a second time. Srnec (talk)
BTW, if you're interested in the Beaux-Arts style, as well, I invite you to weigh in at Talk:Beaux-Arts_architecture#No_Neo-Baroque_in_lead.3F. Shawn in Montreal (talk) 03:51, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
I agree that the two articles must be merged. I have read in a lot of books that the two styles are the same. The Second Empire style thow can be described as a Victorian style in America so I think that American Second Empire should be included in Victorian Architecture. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Georgi m 93 (talkcontribs) 07:38, 10 December 2009 (UTC)


I do not believe that this is clearly the primary meaning of the term "Second Empire", I suggest that this term should be a disambiguation and this page moved. PatGallacher (talk) 15:16, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

New section divisions[edit]

As part of my recent edits, I have reorganized this article a bit. Instead of a single block of text followed by lists of examples, there is now a division between Second Empire in France and the United States. Of course since this article was writen almost entirely about Second Empire in the United States, the French section currently has no text. As I get the chance, I plan to add to France and better organize the United States section. I could see additional expansion of the style in Canada and Australia as well as Great Britain which isn't even covered yet. Since I am not much of an authority on Second Empire outside of the United States, I would appreciate if anyone wanted to help me in this effort. --A.Fox 03:25, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

British Examples[edit]

I did some hunting around, and dug up some Second Empire buildings in London. It was a little more difficult because — at least in London — there seem to be very few high-profile public buildings in the Second Empire style. There is also very little written about the subject. I found most of the examples by browsing Wikimedia Commons and Flickr.

Still I was unsure how to classify some buildings. For instance, what about File:Southwark vestry hall.jpg (1865)? It has a mansard roof, and the second floor center windows are somewhat Second Empire in character, but the mansard lacks dormer windows and the abundance of banding, engaged pilaster capitals, and thick arches over the first floor windows are all unusual for Second Empire. Maybe this one is more Romanesque Revival?

Also, how do we classify buildings that are generally Second Empire in style but were built several decades after the Second Empire ended in France. For instance, the Waldorf Hotel and Her Majesty's Theatre were completed in 1897 and 1908 respectively. I can't speak for the United Kingdom, but Second Empire buildings fell out of style in the U.S. in the 1870 and were rare by the 1880. Some elements of the style were revived in the early 1900s, but are usually classified as Beaux-Arts rather than Second Empire.

--A.Fox 14:45, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

I believe[edit]

that it is time to arrange at least the images in some sort of order. I propose an Americas, Asia (?), Australia, Europe sort of thing, with each section subdivided into countries. It's the sort of switching around that I usually make a huge mess out of when I attempt it, but think I'll do it anywhay, barring a HUGE "NO" from someone here. Einar aka Carptrash (talk) 19:40, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

a couple of points[edit]

I am inclined to remove the Brussels Stock Exchange from the article. However this could be just American prejudice, so I thought I'd ask first. To me we need good examples of the style rather than wild hybrids that could confuse the uninitiated. Also is anyone here bothered by the lack of inline citations that the tags warns us about? I believe that most of those were added by me years ago (2006?) when I was editing here and I am more inclined to remove the tags than mess with citations. Your thoughts? Carptrash (talk) 14:27, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

I haven't looked at this page for years, but have a feeling I've edited it in the past. I would have thought that the Brussels Stock Exchange was right up there with the best examples of Second Empire Architecture; whereas, one or two of the American examples are what I believe Americans call 'chateauesque' and I call Franglifried. Not that it really matters, all these 19th century styles are largely a matter of personal opinion and taste.  Giano  18:17, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
What on earth is this building supposed to be? If that's a Second Empire court house, I think I would plead guilty just to avoid having to enter its horrible portals.  Giano  18:22, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

We need to talk. The pointy roofs on the CCCH are a bit odd, but if you picture a flat roof on them, similar to what is found elsewhere on the building, you have a pretty standard American Second Empire pile. Kelsey & Dyal (The Courthouses of Texas) refer to it as a "Second Empire masterpiece." (p.58). This is part of the confusion as to exactly what the 2nd Empire style is. In my European (French mostly) books it is not mentioned at all. My reference from Brazil calls the style, "Napoleon III." So I am wondering if the name Second Empire architecture is only used in the US & Canada? Help me Giano! Oh yes, my advice is that you stay out of courthouses in Texas regardless of the style. Carptrash (talk) 14:46, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

  • Unfortunately, the term seems to be used in both Europe and USA; however, it's used for different styles. In Europe the style has to have a touch of Baroque about it (see Opera Garnier). In the USA: "the bulky forms derive from the new works of the Second Empire in Paris, but with an important difference - they are more loyal to their 17th-century prototypes than are such buildings in France itself." (World Architecture by C Trewin, p311) This presents another problem for you, when in the USA is a building Second Empire and when is it Neo-Renaissance (see Hôtel de Ville, Paris)? You have a problem. Coming to the Texan court house, that is not good architecture; it is horrible, p, and has arrive via Russia. It would be better if they demolished it.  Giano  16:38, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the Euro insights - I'll not evict tht Brussels thing yet. I looked at all the Americans and they are all more or less appropriate for the style in the US. The Baltimore town hall's (?) classical dome is almost a deal breaker and I am considering removing it because I do not want anyone thinking that domes ala St. Peter's are typical. The Texas county courthouse (one of about 220 in the state)stays until such time as it is demolished - a event that you will be invited to. Carptrash (talk) 16:56, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
The Boston, Vigo and Baltimore halls are all good examples of Second Empire - they are supposed to have a touch of the Baroque about them.  Giano  17:14, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
I have clarified the lead (with references). It seems one of the USA's most prolific architects doesn't have a page Arthur B Mullett; perhaps you know something about him?  Giano  07:28, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Seems he does, Alfred B. Mullett. Interesting, he's in most of my European books as Arthur - I wonder why. 07:30, 22 May 2013 (UTC)