Gardens to Gables

“B” is for Bay Window and Bracket: An Alphabet Soup of Architectural Terms, Part 2

I really should be moving on to the letter “C,’ but there are so many delicious architectural terms that begin with “B” that I wanted to talk about two more: bay windows and brackets. A bay window is a window that projects from the outside wall of a building. Unlike an oriel window, the bay window is not supported from below by a bracket or a corbel. Bay windows are, however, often accented with brackets, which is the second architectural term for this post! A bracket is any projection from a vertical surface that provides structural support (or looks like it does) under an overhanging member, such as a balcony, cornice, or gable.

A perfect example of a polygonal bay window (with brackets) on a late-19th century house in Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky.

A perfect example of a polygonal bay window (with brackets) on a late-19th century house in Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky.

Both brackets and bay windows play a dual role of being good looking and serviceable. A bay window adds more light and a bit more space to a room, and livens up the facade of a house. Brackets may actually support a cornice or overhang, but they are also stylish statements of the owner’s good taste and trendiness.

One of my favorite bracketed cornices is on this late-19th century brick house in Owingsville, Bath County, Kentucky.

One of my favorite bracketed cornices is on this late-19th century brick house in Owingsville, Bath County, Kentucky. (The hood mold over the window is bracketed as well.)

Bay windows began appearing in this country in the 1830s, with the introduction of the Gothic Revival style. They persisted through the Italianate, the Victorian period with its melange of styles, and into the 20th century, where many a bungalow gets a small “bump-out” with a bay window.

Often, the bay windows found on bungalows are square, like this example in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Often, the bay windows found on bungalows are square, like this example in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Bay windows can either be polygonal or square.

A square 19th-century bay window, Owingsville, Bath County, Kentucky.

A square 19th-century bay window, Owingsville, Bath County, Kentucky.

Brackets, on the other hand, can take all sorts of forms, and be plain or ornately fanciful.

Back to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, for these richly detailed brackets (with drop finials), flanking a bay window.

Back to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, for these richly detailed brackets (with drop finials), flanking a bay window.

I’ve never been lucky enough to live in a house with a bay window, but when I do – it shall have a comfortable window seat built into it, and overlook  my garden. I imagine I will spent lots of time there.

A pretty little bay window complete with brackets is found on this house in Lexington, Virginia.

A pretty little bay window complete with brackets is found on this house in Lexington, Virginia.

 

I love this second story bay window on a house in Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky.

I love this second story bay window on a house in Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky.

 

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