Is that a dentil or a spindle? Decoding the parts of a Garvanza Victorian home

Aug 29, 2012

Photo from Redfin

Fans of Victorian-style architecture will find much to like in this 101-year-old Garvanza home near Highland Park that went up for sale earlier this month. But the sales listing describing some of the home’s historic features might seem confusing to those unfamiliar with architectural and building terms, especially those dealing with all the extra decorative fringe found on a Victorian:

The home has fish scale shingles, dentils, medallions and spindles with ornamental moldings around the doors and windows.

Dentils? Medallions? Fish scale shingles? A quick search of the web finds a some helpful photos and description of these building parts.

  • Dentils: A dentil molding describes a strip of wood with row of small squares. Dentil molding can be found on the outside of a house near the bottom of the roof line or above a doorway or fireplace mantle.
  • Fish Scale Shingle: Not all shingles are crated equal. The bottom edge of a fish scale shingle are usually rounded or scalloped. Fish scale shingles were often used  as an accent on exterior walls under the peaked or gable end of a roof.
  • Medallions: The Victorians love for ornamentation included the ceiling, where they often installed circular or oval plaster discs decorated with leaves and other designs. While the Victorian medallion may have been made from wood or plaster, today’s are usually made from some type of light-weight plastic.  Medallions of different shapes and sizes could also be found on walls or over fireplace mantles.
  • Spindles: These are the row of decorative posts that help support a porch or stairway railing.

Looks like someone has appreciation for the fish scale siding or dentils on the Garvanza property. The Crescent Street home went into escrow about a week after it was put up for sale at an asking price of $389,900, according to Redfin.

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