Second Empire

In accordance with the popularity of combining architectural forms, the Second Empire style which emerged in the 19th century, named for the Second French Empire of Napoleon III, blended its Renaissance foundations with earlier Baroque influences.


The Bay City Justice building at 814 N. Monroe was originally constructed in 1876 as a residence for George H. It was designed by his father James, whose lumber business he at one point labored for. The Second Empire style is most evident in its mansard roof  and the gable. A mansard roof has four slopes on each side, generally creating enough extra space for an extra floor called a garret, although it’s unclear whether this building has one. The mansard roof was popularized by Frenchman Francois Mansart in the 17th century, and is perhaps most prominent in the common imagination as the staple rooftop of Paris.


St Ignatius College Prep in the Near West Side of Chicago, designed by Toussaint Menard, a Canadian architect, is a prominent example of the Second Empire style. Its construction began in 1869, making it one of five standing buildings to have survived the Chicago fire of 1871. Similarities can be observed in its mansard roof, gable, and vertical windows, as well as its austere edifice.

2 thoughts on “Second Empire

  1. I love that the building you used in Chicago is one of the (very) few that survived the Chicago fire of 1871. Thanks for this post – I would never have seen the connection between these two buildings, but your description of the type of architecture really brings them together.

  2. I like this post mainly I’m pretty sure I never seen the building in Bay City or never noticed it so I’m glad you compared these too, learning something new everyday I guess . Great Job !!

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