Architectural Terms

Architectural Glossary

The following is a glossary of architectural terms that may be referred to when undertaking the heritage trails or consulting the website.

Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.

A

abacus

The uppermost member of a capital of a column, often a plain, square slab.

alteration

Any change affecting an existing structure externally or internally such as remodeling, structural alterations, additions, maintenance, relocation, and change of color or texture.

ancones

Consoles on either side of a doorway supporting a cornice.

arcade

A range of arches supported on piers or columns and attached or detached from the wall.

architectural features

Exterior or interior details of a structure such as roofs, doors, windows, flooring, and decorative elements.

architrave
  1. The part of the composition of the Classical Orders where an upright member meets a horizontal.
  2. The decorated interior or exterior surrounds of a window or door at the head or jamb.
  3. The beam or lowest division of the entablature, which extends column to column.

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B

baluster

A spindle or post supporting the railing of a balustrade.

balustrade

A series of balusters with a top and bottom rail.

bargeboard

A decorative board covering the projecting portion of a gable roof.

bay
  1. The division of a façade of a building, defined by window and door openings.
  2. An element which protrudes from the facade. (Bay window)
beltcourse

A flat, horizontal, member of relatively slight projection, marking the division in a wall plane.

belvedere

A rooftop pavilion.

board and batten

Exterior wood siding consisting of wide boards set vertically with the joints covered by narrower strips of wood known as battens.

Boynton Beach Register of Historic Places

An official listing maintained by the City of all Historic Properties and Historic Districts so designated by this ordinance.

bracket

A decorative support feature located under eaves or overhangs.

burial ground

A place dedicated to the interment of human remains.

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C

Came

(architectural) Material used to hold the glass assembly together in stained glass windows. Common materials include lead, copper, and zinc.

canales

A Spanish term for a water spout used to drain water from a roof.

canopy

An ornamental roof-like structure used on commercial buildings which provides advertisement space, shade, and protection for the storefront and pedestrian traffic.

capital

The upper portion of a column or pilaster.

cartouche

Architectural ornamentation, often in the shape of a shield or scroll, used to bear a design or inscription.

carve

Cut a design into stone using tools.

casement window

A hinged window which opens outwards.

chamfer

A 90 degree corner cut to reduce it to two 45 degree edges.

chevron

A zigzag or V-shaped decoration usually used in series.

cladding

An outer veneer, consisting of one or more materials applied to the exterior walls of a building.

classical

Architecture from ancient Greece and Rome, especially from the 5th century BCE in Greece to the 3rd century CE in Rome.

clipped gable

A gable with the upper point replaced by a small hip, leaving a truncated gable. Also known as jerkinhead and half-hip.

colonnade

A series of columns supporting an entablature.

columbarium

A structure containing recesses for urns containing cremated remains.

column

A vertical support consisting of a base, shaft, and capital.

composition shingles

A roofing material composed of asphalt, fiberglass, or asbestos.

coping

A protective cap, top, or cover of a wall, chimney, or pilaster.

coquina

A material formed from donax shells found along the east coast of Florida.

corbelling

A method of stacking bricks or blocks on top of each other with each layer projecting beyond those below.

Corinthian

One of the three classical orders originating in Greece, the other two being Doric and Ionic. Corinthian columns are the most decorative of the three orders, the shafts are fluted and they stand on a base. This column is easy to identify by its capital which includes acanthus leaves and sometimes flowers and scrolls (volutes).

cornice

The upper portion of the entablature, also used as the term for any crowning projection.

crenelation

A decorative feature that replicates the pattern of openings of a defensive parapet.

cresting

The decorative railing along the ridge of a roof.

cupola

A small vaulted structure attached to the roof of a building and supported either upon solid walls or four arches.

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D

dado

The part of a pedestal between the base and cornice. The term is also applied to the lower portion of a wall between the skirting board and dado rail.

demolition

Any act or process that partially or totally destroys a structure, feature, or site.

dentil

A tooth-like ornament occurring originally in Ionic and Corinthian orders, usually occurring at the cornice line.

Doric

One of the three classical orders originating in Greece, the other two being Ionic and Corinthian. Doric columns are the simplest and most massive. They originally comprised a round capital topped by a square abacus and a circular shaft with no base.

dormer

A secondary roof-top feature on the slope of a roof housing a window or vent for the provision of ventilation, lighting, or living space.

double hung sash

A window with two vertically sliding sashes, one above the other, each of which can be opened individually or at the same time.

drop siding

A siding in which the upper portion of each board has a concave curve. Also known as novelty, rustic, and German siding.

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E

eaves

The projecting overhang at the edge of a roof.

elevation

A two-dimensional representation or drawing of an exterior face of a building.

engraving

Symbols, letters, or images etched into stone.

entablature

Beam member carried by columns containing an architrave, frieze, and cornice, supported by a colonnade.

epitaph

An inscription on a gravestone.

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F

fanlight

Semi-circular window over a door or window with a radiating glazing bar system.

fascia board

A board at the edge of the eaves outside a building which caps the end of the rafters.

façade

An elevation or face of a building.

fenestration

The design and arrangement of windows and other exterior openings in a building.

finial

An ornament that caps a gable, hip, pinnacle or other architectural feature.

Florida Master Site File

An archive and database of recorded archaeological and historical sites and districts in Florida that is maintained by the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources.

fluting

A series of concave vertical grooves carved into a column.

fluting

The vertical channeling on the shaft of a column.

footprint

The outline of a building’s ground plan from a top view.

frame vernacular

The term “vernacular” refers to a structure that is not of a pure design style but is loosely based on the features of other architectural styles. Frame vernacular structures were normally built without plans by local builders using traditional techniques and locally available materials. Identifying features include a wood frame surfaced with wood siding, a gable or hip roof, and limited decoration including wood trim, exposed rafter tails, decorative vents and brackets.

frieze

The central section part of an entablature between the architrave and the cornice.

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G

gable

The triangular section of a wall at the end of a pitched roof.

gallery

An upper story porch, balcony or walkway running along a wall either inside or outside a building.

gambrel roof

A double-sloped gable roof, which maximizes headroom on the upper level of a building.

Gothic arch

A pointed arch.

Gothic Revival

An architectural style influenced by medieval Gothic architecture that became popular in the United States between 1840 and 1870. Identifying features of this style include steeply pitched gable roofs, pointed arches around doors and windows, lancet and oculus windows, and corner towers.

grave

A burial site dug into the ground.

graveyard

A place, generally around a church, for the burial of human remains.

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H

hip roof

A roof with sloping sides and no vertical ends.

historic site

Any site, building, structure, object, or improvement designated by the City Commission as having historical, cultural, architectural, or archaeological significance.

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I

incise

Scratch a design into wet concrete using tools.

infill

Descriptive of a new structure that has been built to fill a gap in a streetscape

inscription

Letters or symbols etched into stone.

integrity

The authenticity of a property in terms of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.

Ionic

One of three orders originating in Greece, the other two being Doric and Corinthian. Ionic columns are taller and more decorative than Doric columns, the shafts are fluted, and they stand on a base. This column is easy to identify by its capital which includes a pair of spiral scrolls or volutes.

Italian Renaissance

An architectural style in Italy from 1400 to 1600 that was based on a rediscovery and use of the architecture from classical Greece and Rome.

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J

jalousie

A type of window comprised of a series of horizontal slats connected to a mechanical device operated by a crank.

jamb

Either of the vertical sides of an opening, such as doors, windows, arches, etc

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K

keystone

The wedge-shaped stone at the top of an arch.

knee brace

A wooden triangular brace that supports the eaves of a building.

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L

lattice

A panel of crisscrossed, diagonal or perpendicular slats often utilized as decorative infill between masonry foundation piers.

light

(architectural) A pane of glass in a window.

lintel

A horizontal beam located above a window or door opening.

loggia

A gallery open on one or more sides, sometimes pillared.

louver

A small opening comprised of overlapping, downward sloping slats, which shed rain while admitting light and air.

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M

mansard roof

A roof having two slopes on all four sides.

marker

A monument or memorial to mark the place of burial.

masonry

Brick, block, or stone.

masonry vernacular

The term “vernacular” refers to a structure that is not of a pure design style but is loosely based on the features of other architectural styles. Masonry vernacular structures are relatively simple buildings built from either brick or concrete block. Identifying features include brick or stucco coated block walls, a gable or hip roof, and limited decoration including quoins, masonry veneers, and decorative vents.

massing

The arrangement of the various geometric forms of a building into a whole.

mausoleum

A free-standing building used for the placement of caskets or urns.

medallion

A circular tablet, ornamented with embossed or carved figures or patterns.

Mediterranean Revival

An architectural style based on Mediterranean-derived styles such as Italian Renaissance, Mission, and Spanish Colonial Revival. Identifying features of this decorative style include hip, gable or flat roofs, barrel tiles, stucco, plaster and terracotta detailing, arches, columns, decorative door and window surrounds, cornices, quoins, parapets, exposed rafter tails, iron grilles, and balconies.

Minimal Traditional

A simple residential building style that was popular from just before World War II through the 1950s. Identifying features include a low-pitched roof, front-facing gable, minimal eaves overhang, a chimney, and limited decoration including gable vents, quoins, and shutters.

Mission

An architectural style originating in California in the 1880s and 1890s due to interest in the state’s colonial Spanish heritage, particularly the ecclesiastical architecture of the Franciscan missions. Identifying features of this style include a flat roof with a shaped parapet, pitched roof elements with barrel tiles, stucco walls, scuppers, moldings, and chimneys with decorative caps.

modillion

An ornamental block or bracket under the cornice in the Corinthian and other orders.

molding

A continuous decorative strip of material applied to a surface.

mullion

A division between multiple windows or screens.

muntin

The small members that divide glass in a window frame; vertical separators between panels in a panel door.

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N

National Register of Historic Places

The official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

newel

The post in which a handrail is framed.

niche

A cavity in a wall, to receive a statue or other ornament.

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O

object

A primarily artistic item closely linked to the history of the property that is typically relatively small in scale and simply constructed, such as a statue, milepost, statuary, or fountain.

offset

The distance by which one thing is out of alignment with another.

ogee

A molding or arch with an s-shaped profile made up of convex and concave curves.

order

The specific configuration and proportions of a classical column, including the base, shaft, capital and entablature. The classical orders are Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan and Composite.

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P

Palladian window

A window composed of a central arched sash flanked on either side by smaller side lights.

parapet

A solid protective or decorative wall located along the outside edge of a roof.

paterae

Circular ornaments resembling classical saucers.

pavilion

A tower-like projecting element on an exterior wall usually at the center or at each end of a building.

pedestal

A support for column, pilaster, statue or urn.

pediment

A triangular piece of wall above an entablature which fills in and supports the roof.

pier

A masonry structure, usually made of brick or concrete block, which elevates and supports a building or part of a building.

pilaster

An architectural ornament imitating a column that projects from a wall with the same proportions and details as the order in which it is used.

pioneer

In the context of this website, pioneer defines a person who was amongst the first people to come to the area in the late 19th early/20th century and contribute to the development of Boynton. This term is used interchangeably with “settler”.

pitch

A term which refers to the steepness of a roof slope.

plaque

A stone or metal tablet on which is inscribed the name of the deceased.

plinth

A square solid piece under the base of a column, or pedestal.

plot

A single burial space in a cemetery.

porch

A covered, visually open space, projecting from the façade of a building, which serves as a transition between inside and outside.

porte cochere

A covered entrance providing protection from the elements which allows vehicles to pass through. They are normally attached to buildings, although some are free-standing.

portico

The space enclosed within columns and forming a covered ambulatory.

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Q

quoins

Large stones or other materials used to decorate and accentuate the corners of a building, laid vertically, usually with alternating large and small blocks.

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R

rafter

A wooden member of a roof frame which slopes downward from the ridge line.

Ranch

An architectural style originating in California in the 1930s. This became the most dominant style throughout the country in the 1950s and 1960s when the availability of the automobile allowed people to move to the suburbs (where land was cheaper) and build sprawling one-story houses on large lots. Identifying features include low-pitched hip or gable roofs with a moderate to wide eave overhang, horizontal design emphasis, and a one or two bay garage or car port.

reconstruction

The process of reproducing by new construction the exact form and detail of a demolished property as it appeared at a certain point in time.

rehabilitation

The process of repairing or altering a property so that an efficient, sustainable and appropriate contemporary use is achieved, while preserving those significant historical, architectural, or cultural features which establish the character of the property

relocation

Any change of the location of a building, structure or object from its present setting to another setting.

restoration

The process of accurately recovering the form and details of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time, which may involve the removal of later additions or alterations, or the replacement of missing features.

return

(architectural) Usually a cornice return, where the cornice is carried a short distance onto the gable end of a building.

ridge

(architectural) The highest part of a roof.

rustication

A method of forming stonework with recessed joints and smooth or roughly textured block faces.

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S

sash

A frame that encloses the panes of a window.

scale

The proportions of a building in relation to its surroundings, particularly other buildings in the surrounding context.

setback

A term used to define the distance a building or structure is located from a property line.

setting

The physical environment of a property including all landscape elements.

settler

In the context of this website, settler defines a person who was amongst the first people to come to the area in the late 19th early/20th century and contribute to the development of Boynton. This term is used interchangeably with “pioneer”.

shaft

The part of a column between the base and the capital.

shed roof

A roof with a single sloping pitch.

shutter dog

Decorative hardware designed to secure shutters in an open position.

sidelight

A glass window pane located at the side of a main entrance way.

site

(architectural) The location of an event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure, whether standing, ruined, or vanished, where the location itself possesses historic, cultural, or archaeological value regardless of the value of any existing structure.

soffit

The underside of an architectural feature such as an arch, cornice, eave, beam or stair.

Spanish Revival

An architectural style (also known as Spanish Colonial Revival) which was influenced by the architecture of Spain and its New World colonies. This style virtually defined Florida in the 1920s Land Boom era. Identifying features include gable roofs with barrel tile, wrought iron balconies, plaster and terracotta detailing, decorative tile, and window grilles.

stamp

Impress symbols or letters into wet concrete using an engraved block.

structural glass

Glass building blocks, reinforced plate glass, or pigmented structural glass.

structure

A combination of materials to form a construction, generally used to distinguish from Buildings those functional constructions made for purposes other than creating human shelter. (For example, a bridge, wall, fence, a pond).

stucco

A masonry material applied as exterior wall fabric.

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T

terracotta

Earth colored baked clay products formed into molds and used as ornaments.

tomb

An enclosed space intended for the placement of the deceased.

transom window

A glass pane, usually rectangular, which is located above a window or door.

Tudor

An architectural style based loosely on late Medieval English prototypes. Identifying features include steeply pitched, front-facing gables, a brick first story with a stucco and wood second story (half-timbering), oriel windows, and large chimneys.

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U

urn

A container into which cremated remains or flowers may be placed.

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V

valley

(architectural) A depressed angle formed by the meeting at the bottom of two inclined sides of a roof, as a gutter.

vault

An underground or partly buried structure used for the placement of the dead.

verandah

In Florida a porch extending along more than one elevation of a building.

viga

A projecting rounded roof beam found in Colonial and Spanish revival style buildings.

volute

A spiral, scroll-like ornament found on the capital of an Ionic column.

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W

wainscot

The lower three or four feet of an interior wall when finished differently from the remainder of the wall.

weatherboard

A type of cladding characterized by beveled overlapping boards with either tongue and groove or rabbeted top and bottom edges.

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