Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Victorian Restoration : "Roof Lantern"

If your house has a flat or slightly pitched roof. Common in many Cincinnati Victorian era city homes you have that "thing" , you know that 'window' in your roof that leaks and is make up of some old wireframed glass or plastic. You may even not have one anymore but its some constructed "roof access" box. You very well may have dark spots upstairs because there is not enough light in an upper hallway. If that's the case you probably had a "roof lantern".
What's a Roof Lantern you ask? Historically, roof lanterns have been prized both as sources of natural sunlight and as ways to provide great views. And when a skylight can be opened, it also provides ventilation and even emergency egress or a way to get on your roof to make repairs .
Here we see the framework of a roof lantern. Glass or polycarbonate can be used. Reinforced glas would be used for roofs in areas prone to hailstorms.

Originally wood-framed in the 18th and 19th centuries, skylights became even more popular in metal constructions with the advent of sheet-metal shops during the Victorian era. Virtually every urban rowhouse of the late 19th and early 20th centuries relied upon a metal-framed skylight to illuminate its enclosed stairwell. BUT , more elaborate dwellings of the era showed a fondness for the roof lantern, in which the humble ceiling-window design of the skylight is elaborated into a miniature glass-paneled, conservatory-style roof cupola or tower.
In true Victorian fashion this roof lantern is disguised with a stunning stained glass window letting the light shine through in a most elegant way.
This Urban roof is transformed with these roof lanterns that really open up internal rooms into light filled spaces.

Until just a few years ago these were a "lost art" but they have continued to be popular in England. Today roof lanterns have made their war "across the pond' again and now Victorian home owners have options to take that boring hunk of plastic or glass and turn it into something beautiful and functional since many roof windows now offer thermostatically controlled venting which will allow the heat to escape in the hot summer and provide a natural heat draw out of the house saving you money on cooling costs in our hot midwestern summer.

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