During the early part of the 19th century, France was ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, or Napoleon I. His empire, which he ruled from 1804-1814, was known as the First French Empire. During his reign, Napoleon gained the support of his people through means such as his Napoleonic Code, which stated that men could get jobs based on talent, rather than genetics or social class.
Napoleon's popularity resulted in the architectural movement Empire style, which lasted way past his reign, until 1830.In 1848, Napoleon I's nephew, Napoleon III, became the ruler of France. During his reign, which was known as the Second French Empire, Napoleon III had Paris rebuilt and redesigned. His style of architecture, which began in 1855, became known as Second Empire. After spreading from France, it became extremely popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The popularity of Second Empire architecture lasted until 1880, when other Victorian Revival architectural styles began to dominate.
There are many distinguishing features of Second Empire architecture. The mansard roofs are comprised mostly of slate shingles, dormer windows, and brackets beneath the eaves. Sometimes, a cupola would be added, along with iron cresting above the rounded, upper cornice. The entrances are usually shown by means of a pavilion with paired columns, as well as a central window above the double doors. Tall windows sometimes occupy the first story, which are accompanied by classical pediments.
Prominent architect Henry Hobson Richardson designed many residences in the northeastern portion of the United States in the Second Empire style during the 1860's. One of these was the H.H. Richardson House in Staten Island, which was built in 1868 at 45 McClean Avenue. Many Second Empire houses, all built in the late 1800's, are also located in the North Shore section of Staten Island â€“ the H.H. Richardson House included. Other houses include 280 Lafayette Avenue, 172 Prospect Avenue, 198 Heberton Avenue, and 51 Wilbur Place.