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Second Empire is a style that was popular during the Victorian era, reaching its zenith between 1865 and 1880, and so named for the "French" elements in vogue during the era of the Second French Empire. While a distinct style unto itself, some Second Empire styling cues have an indirect relationship to the styles previously in vogue, Gothic Revival and Italianate eras.
In the United States, the Second Empire style usually combined a rectangular tower, or similar element, with a steep, but short, mansard roof; the roof being the most noteworthy link to the style's French roots. This tower element could be of equal height as the highest floor, or could exceed the height of the rest of the structure by a storey or two. The mansard roof crest was often topped with an iron trim, sometimes referred to as "cresting". In some cases, lightning rods were integrated into the cresting design, making the feature useful beyond its decorative features. The exterior style could be expressed in either wood, brick or stone. More elaborate examples frequently featured paired columns as well as sculpted details around the doors, windows and dormers. The purpose of the ornamentation was to make the structure appear imposing, grand and expensive.