TOWER— AN EXCEPTIONALLY TALL BUILDING OR PART OF A BUILDING
—A FRAMEWORK OR STRUCTURE THE ELEVATION OF WHICH IS FUNCTIONAL
TURRET—A SMALL ORNAMENTAL TOWER-SHAPED PROJECTION ON A BUILDING
— A SMALL SLENDER TOWER USUALLY PROJECTING FROM THE CORNER OF A BUILDING. SOMETIMES CONTAINING CIRCULAR STAIRWAY
Make your own choice in choosing which designation you will use in describing the rounded structure you may see on houses around you—either residence or commercial. Depending on the house style may determine your selection..
The tower/turret has been a common accent for centuries but the last few decades of the nineteenth and into the early years of the twentieth there were towers or turrets everywhere. From the Italianate villa with its most prominent feature being the square tower through the fussy Queen Anne that often had a polygonal tower with a conical roof. Or more than one. Its extensions, dormers, turrets, etc., etc.. were combinations of many geometric shapes.
Eastlake was another style that had many a zig in its silhouette to divert your eye to the several types of trim and siding on that style. This was in the 1880’s, too.
Richard Romanesque were massive in stone with atone-arched trimmed windows, entry and drive throughs and much suited to having towers or turrets, making them appear like a modern castle transported through the centuries. The style was best adapted to commercial or governmental or church buildings. But mansions built to impress the “lower classes” below the wealthy were commonly constructed. Short towers with a Norman style roof were part of the combinations used in the Romanesque. Owners today of the Norman style with its incorporated round tower or projection from a corner might not know that the round structure is transformation of a silo from centuries ago. The olden day when human and livestock all lived in one building, yes, one building. The villain or whatever class could afforded a house likely could not build a barn, too so the livestock were herded into one corner and their body heat helped keep the family warm in the winter’s cloud. Eventually, the silo was adapted to a handy, space-saving structure for a staircase to get from floor to floor or serve as a room for tea or sewing or provide a fixture to give the residence a hint of antique charm in the modern day. They are striking.
The sprawling Shingle style built more than a century ago. Many along the Atlantic coast as a summer residence were the rage in one-upmanship. Unique designs were popular. They were for the rich and famous. In England their designer was the much sought after, Richard Norman Shaw who designed those houses in tile. Surely they are still used yet today. In America, however, the style was constructed in wood, in shingles, some in varied shapes for bays or towers to give it individuality. It was much less expensive than the tile of the British model or the stone in the stylish (then) buildings of the architect of the era, H.H. Richardson. Their towers were crisscrossed with several designs in shingle.
Second Empire, Gothic Revival were only two more architectural styles begun in the last part of the nineteenth century that incorporated towers/turrets into their plan. The “cousin” of the tower or turret was the two story bay window if you can be lenient in interpretation ... That “steeple” roof helps the image.
One of the earliest churches built in America is St. Luke’s near Smithfield, Virginia whose facade is dominated by a large square tower, three stories tall, and has lance windows and door openings, steep roofs, step gavel ends, looking much like the church back in Old England. The colonials who lived in New England, however, dissented again by shunning the old-fashioned style church with the tower and built a plain and simple meeting house that spread across America in nearly all denominations.
A steeple however was often added to hang the bell and be a beacon to beckon the needful of all degrees and condition. Not until time and distance made later generations feel safe from Old World dominance were towers used freely. Architecture had its place in dissent, too.
Towers and turrets are all around us. Look for them and see how they enhance an otherwise ordinary structure. Or separate a structure with their accent. You can even imagine that the turret is crenelated and a warrior with shield and carrying a lance or an archer, a bow is dodging behind the top ready to ward off the most Vicious Hun or Viking. That’s how towers and turrets all began. Centuries before the Internet!!!