1. Basic Design of a Mansard Roof
The standard mansard roof design features a steep pitch on the sidewalls (matching on all four sides of the roof) with a second shallower pitch towards the top of the roof. This creates an attic with a lot of useful space, which is why the style is often used in a modified form for dollhouse attics. The roofs often feature dormer windows, with Traditional French style second empire buildings often having arched dormers or dormers with rounded windows, known in France as Oeil de boef or 'bull's eye' dormers.
2. Classic Second Empire 'French' Style The Custom's House / Malahat Building
For dollhouses the mansard roof often consists of slightly angled sides with a flat top, avoiding a more complex construction. These roofs give a maximum room area under a roof, and can be easily hinged or have roof 'gardens' and decks set on top. A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester, describes five different mansard roof styles: straight, straight with a bottom flare, concave, convex, and s-curves.
This photo of the 'Custom's House' or Malahat Building in Victoria, Canada, shows a classic civic building built of stone and brick, with simplified versions of many basic features common to second empire design. The mansard roof on this building features a bottom flare, and has a roof deck to overlook the harbor. Missing from the design is a crested railing, which was often found on mansard roofs, especially ones with decks, where the railings often enclosed a 'widow's walk'. The building has corner quoins, arched hooded windows, bracketed eaves, a slate roof, and brick and stone detailing.
The details of this simplified 'second empire'building are often seen in dollhouse designs for 'town houses' or French mansions.
3. Mansard Roofs on Imposing Civic Buildings - Victoria's City Hall
The second empire styles with their useful space under the mansard roof were also very popular for civic buildings and institutions. Victoria City Hall designed by architect John Teague, was constructed in Second Empire Style between 1878 and 1891. It features a metal mansard roof, pedimented dormer windows, clock tower, arched windows and doorways and quoins.
4. Mansard Roof Houses - The Classic "Haunted" House
Second empire style houses in the U.S often feature mansard roofs with a central tower or offset tower. This house style was used by Alfred Hitchcock for the house in "Psycho" and was also the style seen as the mansion inhabited by the Television "Adams Family" Mansion. Disney use this style of house for their 'haunted mansions'. Wikipedia claimed that the use of this style for 'haunted' houses may have its origins in the Panic of 1893 in the United States, which led to the foreclosure and abandonment of many then-new houses, built in the second empire style.
5. References for Mansard Roof and Second Empire Details.
Great references for mansard roofs and buildings suitable for dollhouses and miniature 'haunted' houses.
- Le Grand Livre de la Maison Miniature by Christine Lea Frisoni - book on building a dollhouse in traditional French style, written in French but with clear illustrations on the building process.
- Wonderful reference photos of North American Second Empire Houses in a Range of Styles from Ontario Architecture
- Second Empire Architecture in North America 1855 - 1885 by About.com Guide to Architecture Jackie Craven.
6. Dollhouses, Kits and Plans Featuring Mansard Roofs
Printables For Miniature Mansard Roof Houses and Decorations
- Printable Miniature Buildings with Mansard Roofs in 1:144 - N scale for Tiny Haunted Houses
- Printable Parts for Haunted House Displays Made From Recycled Cereal Boxes
Dollhouse Designs Featuring Mansard Roofs This is not a complete list
- Earth and Tree - Belmont, Claremont, Lilydale, Piermont, Westdale, Rosemont, Manchester, Hillsboro, Goffstown - Architect's choice Plan #3
- Greenleaf Lily, Beaconhill , Rosedale
- House That Jack Built Mansard Dollhouse
- Lawbre - Fort Tompkins Lighthouse, Glen Cove Villa, French Country House
- Manchester Woodworks (Manchester MI) - Bostonian, Newport
- Real Good Toys - Plum Pudding, Cranberry Cove, Apple Blossom, New Orleans, Williamsburg, Newport
- Sid Cooke - Georgian Dollhouse mansard roof kit
Dollhouse Plans Featuring Mansard Roofs
- Dijon - Kestral, Sparrow ,Finch, Raven, Falcon
- Housworks - Townsend Towers