Second Empire was one of the first true Victorian era styles in the United States, from roughly 1860 to 1900. Second Empire buildings were based on Italianate styles and forms but with the addition of a Mansard roof. Other elements include dormer windows, decorative brackets, molded cornice, Italianate style details on windows/doors and sometimes a square (not round) tower.
The style was most popular in the Northeast and Midwest while rarely constructed in the South. It was also referred to as the “General Grant style” as it was used during the Grant administration for public buildings. The style was named for the reign of Napoleon III (1852-1870), who undertook a major building campaign that transformed Paris into a city of grand boulevards and monumental buildings. One of Napoleon’s most famous projects was the enlargement of the Louvre (1852-1857) which reintroduced the Mansard roof originally developed during the 1600s Renaissance by Francois Mansart.