Gambrel roofs from the Dutch Colonial Revival shaped Lancaster at the turn of the 20th century [architecture column, photos] | Architecture

LANCASTER IN STYLE, PART 17: DUTCH COLONIAL REVIVAL, 1890-1930

Interestingly, the Dutch colonial style didn’t get its name directly from Holland or even colonial architecture. Instead, it refers to the 17th century Dutch colonists who settled on the coast of New York and New Jersey. They brought their unique and distinctive roof design recipe with them, namely the Dutch Gambrel. The Gambrel roof offers two different roof pitches: one very steep and the other very flat. This concept maximizes the usable floor space in an otherwise common, unusable attic.

Interest in the use of this roof style took off at the beginning of the 19th century.

A classic Dutch gambrel features a double pitched roof in this 1920 house on West Chestnut Street.

This gambrel roof with a solid brick chimney and a sailing ship silhouette is an example of the design of the Dutch colonial era.

HG The Glen Falls around 1928 Sears House, President Ave.

In this undated photo, homeowners stand in front of a Sears Glen Falls model built circa 1928 on President Avenue in Lancaster. It has a gambrel roof and picturesque details such as a planter over the front door.

Houses by Mail.JPG

The book “Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company” was published in the 1990s.

Iron medallion of the Dutch sailing ship.jpg

An iron medallion from a Dutch sailing ship is one of the features of a Dutch colonial house.

Joseph P. Breneman residence circa 1925

The Joseph P. Breneman residence was built on the Lincoln Highway around 1925 and designed by the architect C. Emlen Urban.

Donegal Presbyterian Church 1740;  early gambrel roof.JPG

The Donegal Presbyterian Church on Donegal Springs Road, East Donegal Township, was built in the 1730s and is now on the US National Register of Historic Places. Its roof is an example of an early gambrel.

Dutch Colonial Revival with flared eaves

This Dutch colonial house has flared eaves, a dormer window and an end chimney with a metal cutout for sailing ships.

Dutch colonial times on West Chestnut;  former home of C. Emlen Urban.

The famous Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban once lived in this Dutch colonial house on West Chestnut Street from 1923 to 1927. It was built around 1920.

Dutch Gambrel c1920 Marietta Ave.JPG

Here is an example of a Dutch gambrel roof on a house on Marietta Avenue. It was built around 1920.

Raised closure with neckline

A raised shutter with a cutout is a defining feature of Dutch Colonial Revival design.

Venetian blind with cutout .jpg

A cutout blind shutter is a defining feature of Dutch Colonial Revival design.

Metal cutout of the anchor.jpg

A metal cutout of an anchor is a detail of the Dutch Colonial Revival house design.

Sears House on President Avenue with a Dutch gambrel roof, 1

A Sears house on President Avenue has a Dutch gambrel roof, a dormer on the upper pitch, and a deep porch.

Sear House on 2 President Avenue

A Sears house on President Avenue has a Dutch gambrel roof, a dormer on the upper pitch, and a deep porch.

Dutch Gambrel on Chestnut Street

A classic Dutch gambrel features a double pitched roof in this 1920 house on West Chestnut Street.

Gambrel roof, masonry roof, Dutch revival

This gambrel roof with a solid brick chimney and a sailing ship silhouette is an example of the design of the Dutch colonial era.

HG The Glen Falls around 1928 Sears House, President Ave.

In this undated photo, homeowners stand in front of a Sears Glen Falls model built circa 1928 on President Avenue in Lancaster. It has a gambrel roof and picturesque details such as a planter over the front door.

Houses by Mail.JPG

The book “Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company” was published in the 1990s.

Iron medallion of the Dutch sailing ship.jpg

An iron medallion from a Dutch sailing ship is one of the features of a Dutch colonial house.

Joseph P. Breneman residence circa 1925

The Joseph P. Breneman residence was built on the Lincoln Highway around 1925 and designed by the architect C. Emlen Urban.

Donegal Presbyterian Church 1740;  early gambrel roof.JPG

The Donegal Presbyterian Church on Donegal Springs Road, East Donegal Township, was built in the 1730s and is now on the US National Register of Historic Places. Its roof is an example of an early gambrel.

Dutch Colonial Revival with flared eaves

This Dutch colonial house has flared eaves, a dormer window and an end chimney with a metal cutout for sailing ships.

Dutch colonial times on West Chestnut;  former home of C. Emlen Urban.

The famous Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban once lived in this Dutch colonial house on West Chestnut Street from 1923 to 1927. It was built around 1920.

Dutch Gambrel c1920 Marietta Ave.JPG

Here is an example of a Dutch gambrel roof on a house on Marietta Avenue. It was built around 1920.

Raised closure with neckline

A raised shutter with a cutout is a defining feature of Dutch Colonial Revival design.

Venetian blind with cutout .jpg

A cutout blind shutter is a defining feature of Dutch Colonial Revival design.

Metal cutout of the anchor.jpg

A metal cutout of an anchor is a detail of the Dutch Colonial Revival house design.

Sears House on President Avenue with a Dutch gambrel roof, 1

A Sears house on President Avenue has a Dutch gambrel roof, a dormer on the upper pitch, and a deep porch.

Sear House on 2 President Avenue

A Sears house on President Avenue has a Dutch gambrel roof, a dormer on the upper pitch, and a deep porch.

Considered a romantic style due to its overall low profile and comfortable size, Dutch Revival was popular with the American public, as evidenced by its prevalence in suburban developments before and after World War I.

The unique roof shape quickly set it apart from its gable and hip-roofed neighbors. Most houses of this style are 1 1/2 or 2 stories tall, with wood clapboards or cedar shingles. The use of brick or stone was unusual.

The core of the exterior is often symmetrical, but the wings often deviate from the symmetry for porches and side entrances.



Iron medallion of the Dutch sailing ship.jpg

An iron medallion from a Dutch sailing ship is one of the features of a Dutch colonial house.



The massive brick chimneys are typically at the ends of the structure and are decorated with a metal cut from Dutch sailing ships or a large letter that represents the family’s last name.

Traditionally, dormers serve as an extension of the upper, flat sloping roof. The dormers are built as individual elements or as sheds, with many dormers being combined in one.



Dutch colonial times on West Chestnut;  former home of C. Emlen Urban.

The famous Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban once lived in this Dutch colonial house on West Chestnut Street from 1923 to 1927. It was built around 1920.



Shutters are common on the upper and lower floors and often have a decorative cutout on the top panel. The cutout can be the silhouette of a tree, a ship or a moon.

The style’s popularity was further increased by its availability as a “mail order” home design offered by Sears & Roebuck and the other mail order companies of the 1920s and 30s.

The Second World War marked the end of the “Gambrel Rush”. The intricate roof construction did not match post-war efforts to provide returning GIs and their families with fast and affordable housing. Lancaster offers many examples of Dutch colonial architecture, especially in neighborhoods that were founded between 1900 and 1940.

Where does the name Gambrel come from?

The root of the name is “Gamba”, Latin for the shape of the rear leg of a horse.

Did Gambrel Roof Design Save Homeowners Taxes?

Yes sir. During the 18th century, houses with gambrel roofs were taxed as one-story residences.

What other building types use the gambrel roof design?

Gambrel roof structures are found on barns, historic churches, colonial inns, and certain retail and civil buildings.

Contributing to this column is Gregory J. Scott, FAIA, a local architect with more than four decades of national experience in innovation and design. He is a member of the College of Fellows at the American Institute of Architects. Send an email to [email protected]

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Gambrel roofs from the Dutch Colonial Revival shaped Lancaster at the turn of the 20th century [architecture column, photos] | Architecture Source link Gambrel roofs from the Dutch colonial era shaped Lancaster at the turn of the 20th century [architecture column, photos] | Architecture

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