This style developed as American cities began to expand in both style and size. The Second Empire reflected a new kind of urban architecture, inspired in great part by the apartment buildings in Paris and other western European cities. Often, these were highly ornamented buildings with a tall and flat facade, topped with a mansard-style curved roof. Long dormer windows often sat at the top of the building, and bay windows were common as well. These homes usually had a rectangular floor plan with a central hall and double entry
These early Victorian homes reinvented the classic structures of medieval churches and castles in a more approachable way. They often have the stereotypical Victorian characteristics: multiple colors, textured walls, steeply pitched roofs and elaborate vergeboard (also called gingerbread) below the gables. Board-and-batten siding was a popular feature, but it was usually used vertically rather than in the more traditional horizontal style.