Example of an architectural hyphen at Whitehall in Annapolis, Maryland.

photo by: Wikimedia Commons

November 4, 2015

Preservation Glossary: Hyphen

  • By: Nick Totten

You may think you already know this word, but don’t dash away! Hyphen is not just a run-of-the-mill grammar term. It also has a lesser-known application in architecture. The Dictionary of Architecture defines hyphen as follows:

Hyphen, noun

The connecting link between a main building and an outlying wing, such as is found in the South Atlantic states, in the Georgian mansions of the eighteenth century.

Word in Use: “Many more of these H-plan dwellings were comprised of eighteenth-century houses that outgrew their owners’ needs in the early nineteenth century and were expanded by adding a Federal house to the original Georgian house, then connecting them with a hyphen. Often the addition was log or frame rather than brick.”—K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson County: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, p. 57.

The above picture shows a hyphen at Whitehall manor house near Annapolis, Maryland.

Nick Totten is an editorial intern at the National Trust. He takes particular delight in historic museums and libraries. In addition, he enjoys performing music, playing with words, and appreciating the local sites and views on foot.

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