MissPres Architectural Word of the Week: Jerkinhead Gable

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?  This week’s word is probably my favorite style of gable, simply because it’s a variation from a typical gable.  I’ve scoured the National Register Nominations that are posted on the MDAH HRI database to gather examples from across the State that are in different styles.

This week’s word is brought to you by the letter J for “Jerkinhead Gable” as defined by Ernest Burden’s Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture

Jerkinhead Gable: (jur-kin-hed gey-buhl ) Gable end that slopes back at the top to form a small hipped roof end; also called a hipped gable

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The gable style is also referred to in many of these National Register Nominations as a clipped gable.  We’ve got lots of examples this week because the Jerkinhead Gable is used across many different structure sizes and styles.  The Jerkinhead Gable seems to be popular in Mississippi from 1900 until about 1940.  While it is used mostly for residential construction there are a few commercial examples lurking out there.  Keep your eyes out for a Jerkinhead Gable(s) this week.  If you see one let us know!

Categories: Biloxi, Books, Greenwood, Hernando, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Natchez

19 replies

  1. Thank you, Mr. Rosell, for taking the time to do this every week. Since I am not an architect, builder or roofer, I am learning so much and look forward to what you’re teaching us every week. Can’t tell you how many times I have driven by the Welty home and never even noticed the Jerkinhead Gable. Gotta love the builder of that duplex in Belhaven Heights adding this architectural “touch” to such an humble structure. I really enjoy looking at all the photos everyone posts. We can’t ride all over creation looking at all the things I get to see every day right here on MSPres. Good job!


    • You are very welcome. I am glad I have the opportunity. I think its the subtle things that we may never notice that make folks passionate about old and historic structures. You are right about the little duplex. It probably didn’t cost any extra to incorporate the Jerkinheads, nor was it difficult to execute, but it required creativity to think about doing it and an understanding of proportion to give the little building some distinction.

      I love the Jerkinhead gable because at first it seems so style specific, but as you begin looking for them I find that they transcend styles and even time periods.


  2. I love the word Jerkinhead! And you’re right, I always associated it with a Tudorish or at least English cottage style, but when you start paying attention, it’s across a wide range of styles. Thanks for pulling this one out for closer inspection.


  3. I saw several examples of Jerkinhead in Pensacola when we were down that way a couple of months ago but I couldn’t remember the name of it for the life of me! What’s the origin of the name Jerkinhead?


    • That’s a great question! According to the Oxford English Dictionary Jerkinhead originated in the Mid-19c. The term Jerkin is much older dating from the 16c. but it is of an unknown origin. The OED draws a possible connection between Jerkinhead and Kirkinhead. Merriam-Webster definition of Kirkinhead says see Jerkinhead, so I guess Kirkinhead and Jerkinhead are the same meaning but Kirkinhead is listed as the irregular.

      Here’s where it gets interesting(maybe :D).

      Kirk is of 12c. Scottish origin defined as a church. So it is possible that Jerkinhead originates from a style of Scottish church roofs but I have not been able to find any such examples.


  4. Here’s a picture of a 1920s (I guess) bungalow house that I lived in on Wayside St. in Tupelo. The roof has jerkinhead gables on the sides. And is the dormer gable a jerkinhead gable? The house is located at 113 Wayside St. in Tupelo (in East Tupelo a few houses down from Johnnie’s Drive-in Restaurant which is the oldest restaurant still in business in Tupelo. An ELVIS site so you have to go! You can see this house from Johnnie’s parking lot. It’s on the East side of the street. http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y109/cjs555/Tupelo%20Mississippi%20landmarks/Wayside3.jpg


  5. Interesting !
    Im remodeling a cottage in Central Florida .The original1946 BLUE Prints show jerkinhead gable ends .I would like to put them into my remodel . best I can tell they are 5ft wide at base and on a 30 deg. Cut back into ridge . TED



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