MissPres Architectural Word of the Week: Imbrex

Time for another MissPres Architectural Word of the Week.  As we move right along through the alphabet, you can check out our past words here.  Have you been keeping an eye out for these elements like I have?  While last week’s word might be out of the norm our word this week is a little more common.  It is also our first word that has two architectural meanings.

This week’s word is brought to you by the letter I for “Imbrex” as defined by Cyril M. Harris’s Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture.

Imbrex: (ˈimˌbreks, -briks) 1.A tile, semicircular in shape, which fits over the joints in a tile roof.   2. One of the scales in ornamental imbrication.

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Our three little cottage examples from Natchez all have asbestos barrel tiles for the Imbrex (first instance of the definition) at the ridges and hips of their roofs.  I had thought that the asbestos roofing tiles on the pitch of each roof might be the second form of the definition.   But upon looking up the definition of Imbrication I learned my assumption was incorrect because the shingle material has to be perpendicular to its neighbor, rather than on an angle like our example shingles all are.

An example of the second form of the definition can be seen in another image from the HRI database of a Queen Anne style house with some ornamental shingles that are an example of imbrication.  Another example of the first form of the definition can be seen in a post back in February where Malvaney talked about the sprucing up of the clay tile roof on the Standard Oil building in Jackson.

Do you have a favorite building in Mississippi that has an Imbrex used in a different way then our examples?  If so please share!  Keep your eyes out for an Imbrex tile or an imbrication pattern in shingles this week and stay tuned for the next MissPres Architectural Word of the Week!

Categories: Books, Historic Preservation, Natchez

13 replies

  1. Okay, Thomas, so what about the roof of the Old Federal Courthouse in Hattiesburg. https://picasaweb.google.com/100405424326256029996/Random#5738794284295506866 If you click the > arrow after you click the link, you can see the next photo in the album for a close up of the tiles. Are these imbrex? They have a point on them…I don’t know if you’d call them circular or not.


  2. Ooh, a new vocab word. Thanks!


  3. I love that you are doing words of the week! I even introduced this to my teacher at New School of Architecture in San Diego to teach us off-the-wall and unique architecture words not founds in our textbooks. :)


    • Great! I am glad you love it. I think doing the AWOTW has given me personally a new perspective and helped me notice things on structures that I have never noticed before. Each post comes about differently. Some start with the object first(wow what’s that? I wanna find out what that is called), others start with the word(what a different word. I wonder where I can see it in action locally?) Maybe you can impress your classmates and Professors with your own AWOTW?



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