Especially throughout New England, you are able to see many examples of the peaked roof. This roof is pitched at a slant of an inverted "v" and comes to a point in the middle of its pointed top. It looks most like a triangle. For practical purposes, snow and rain run off the roof, so it does not become too weighted down.
Vitruvius Pollio, a Roman architect and engineer from the first century BC, reported that peaked roofs were one of the first building constructions created by ancient civilizations, because this type of design shed rain best. The peaked roof also served a need during the Gothic period. The architecture in Western Europe from AD 1150 to 1500 featured a system of vaulting in the church's ceiling. Because it was not possible to construct an entirely weatherproof vault of stone, the exterior surface had many areas where rainwater and snow collected, and it was thus necessary to make an outer slate or metal roof over the vaulting, which formed the high-peaked roof.
Gables are roof parts that face in different directions than the main roof, or "cross gables." These are constructed to be a section of the roof and do not have any walls. "Gabled" is a term that describes a type of house that has the straight slope that falls from the ridge, or highest roof point, to the eave, or roof edge. This design makes a peak or triangle on the side or front facade. Gabled houses have rakes, or sloped sides, on the gabled sides and eaves on the non-gabled sides. Dormers rise up and above the roof of the house.
When settlers came to the New World, they brought their architectural history with them, which included the peaked roof. Many German buildings included two to four stories within the roof gable as well as rows of dormer windows. In 1760, the German pioneer Casper Messner arrived in Pennsylvania and built a Colonial Revival house with a front gable and high-peaked roof. This roof rested on a very heavy structural framework of the two-story stone house. The central rafters, which were more than a foot thick, were covered with red tile. Parts of the house also contained window sashes that were made of lead, with each pane measuring four by six inches. The word for German, or "Deutsch," changed into "Dutch," and Messner's German-style home started being called the Dutch Colonial.
San Francisco's 1878 botanical greenhouse by the Golden Gate Bridge, called the Conservatory of Flowers, has a Victorian dome that soars almost 60 feet in the air and winglike arches that extend out a total of 240 feet. The gable is the triangular part of the wall between the areas of the sloping roof. Projecting from the roof on the east, west and south rest dormer windows with peaked roofs.
Especially in the U.S. West and Southwest, the peaked roof was used a great deal to construct farm buildings that are called the Western or prairie barn. The peaked roof projected over the opening of the hayloft that needed to be big enough to store large amounts of hay and feed. The long and sweeping roofs, at times almost coming all the way down to the ground, allowed for huge storage-area capacity.
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