Dormers and other Protuberances
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, September 8, 2013
A dormer is a window that is set vertically on a sloping roof. The dormer has its own roof, which may be flat, arched, or pointed.
On my earlier visit to Williamsburg, Virginia, I was attracted to the beauty of the dormers. An architectural anomaly to maximizing attic space, they have been around since man started building pitched roof shelters. In Colonial American architecture, they were predictable additions, with a gabled roof, repeated in measured sequence depending on the length of the house, the bigger the house, the more dormers.
President Tyler's plantation house near Williamsburg, which I photographed on our Model T tour in June
Returning to Nantucket, I discovered our Island is the uncrowned capital of the dormer! This is to the chagrin of our zealous Historic District Commission, who's word is gosplet. They lord over any new construction, renovation or additions that appear before them. In their wisdom, they diligently attempt to hide them from public view.
None-the-less, dormers are an intractable part of Nantucket’s architectural. Stemming from the island’s frugal Quaker heritage, with limited space and lean times, local shipwrights and carpenters added them to many of their homes in order to maximize usable space.
I had a great time scouring the streets of Nantucket with my iPhone camera, recording this collection of dormers.
...But the fun begins when you go out to the western end of the Island... Madaket was the "badlands" of Nantucket as it lay in the lee of the Madaket Dump. Burning the trash was still the norm and when the wind was in the wrong direction, it exuded an unbearable stench.. As a no-man's land, no one really cared what was built there.
No...this is not a new building,it just had to be moved to avoid slipping into the ocean with the next storm
This little shack belonged to a friend. He called it "Eeelskin Manor". Thom was over six foot tall,the ceilings were a scant six foot or less! The new owners added a dormer entrance to avoid hitting their heads.
The final word in dormers - our Yacht club's staff dormitory entrance
No review of Nantucket's skyline would be complete without a look at our ubiquitous Widow's Walk
These roof-walks enjoy a quaint history: As their sea-faring husbands were at sea for years on end, pining widows would search the distant horizons for their husband's returning ship.
A more caustic explanation was that when the ships did arrive, it was time to send the lovers home.
The most mundane explanation: easy access to the chimneys for the chimney sweep
Take your choice!