Greek Revival Home - How Would Dormer Affect Roofline?

"Hi David:
I have a very nice, Greek revival style home. It is straight gable roof with gable end to street and corner pilasters. It has 12 foot ceilings on first floor and 10 foot on second. The attic was finished in the 1940s (or so it seems) with two shed dormers on south side of house (one in middle and toward the rear).

I am doing some work on the third floor (redoing a bath etc) and am
considering the addition of another dormer on the south side (toward front of
the house) as well as possibly adding 2 or 3 to the north side of the roof.

I know that the Greek revival style was meant to mimic a Greek temple or
pediment. The gable end is turned toward the street with entablature.

The current dormers on the south side can't be seen from the street and don’t
interrupt that look. I want to add dormers if appropriate but don’t want to mess up the roofline if it is considered in bad taste.

So, what do you think?
Does a shed dormer (or one on each side) set back a few feet from the end of
the gable, at the front of the house interrupt the roofline (as seen from street) in a negative way?

Also, if i do add a dormer on the south side, and it is visible from the front of the house, its it better that i also add one on the north side for symmetry? Or does that not matter so much?

I would really appreciate your opinion. I can send you a link to a picture of house if needed. The house is 180 years old, but is not in a historic district.

Thanks -- Paul"“This style was popular in the newly formed United States, partially because Americans associated themselves with the democratic society of ancient Greece. While some buildings of the style adopt the classic Greek temple front with columns supporting a full entablature and a low-pitched pediment, others were built without any columns. The doorways often have a transom on top plus two side lights.”(


It's nice to hear from someone who fully appreciates the historical value of their home and wants to do things the right way. Sorry to take so long to reply.

You're correct that Greek revival structures were built to evoke the form of an ancient Greek temple with a simple gable roof. These temples certainly never had dormer windows. However, they didn't have bathrooms or finished attics either, and the Greeks weren't concerned with their resale value.

I agree that you should pay careful attention to the front elevation. The further back from the street you can keep your dormers, the less visible they will be. If you need to build closer to the end of the roof, I would suggest mocking up the end of the proposed dormer to see how visible it is from the ground.

I would definitely try to minimize the dormers since they aren't authentic elements, but I wouldn't worry about maintaining symmetry.

Good luck with your project,
David Moore, AIA
Original Home Plans

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