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CIRCA School: Hood Molds

by Jon Valalik (photo by Inspectapedia)

Grab your No. 2 pencils, everyone! It’s time for CIRCA School, where we uncover the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details.
A hood mold, more accurately called a dripstone when applied on the outside of the building, is a type of molding which projects outward above a door, window, or archway in order to deflect water away from the opening underneath it. They first appeared over 1000 years ago in medieval Europe, in Romanesque style architecture and continued to be used as a functional architectural element for centuries. They were widely applied to Italian, and Tudor buildings, but gained much of their popularity in Gothic cathedrals.


4363 Guernsey Street in Bellaire, OH. Photo courtesy of theLibrary of Congress.

Wooden hood molds in the United States are typically attached to modest, wooden homes, while stone and brick examples usually appear on larger stone scholastic and religious buildings. The variety of ornamentation in a hood mold varies from building to building. Some are simple, squared blocks that form a horizontal band above and vertically down the sides of an opening. These modest, flat hood molds are commonly referred to as ‘label molds.’ Others can be tapered, chamfered, and carved to varying degrees of intricacy and include what are known as ‘stops’ placed at each end of the molding. These stops are often carved in the shapes of faces, animals, and floral patterns.
hood mold

Photo by Buffalo as an Architectural Museum.

Hood molds are far from the most ornate addition you can make to a home or building, but when it comes to modest, Carpenter Gothic homes in the United States, they certainly add a respectable level of detail and texture to the otherwise simple façade. From 13th century English cathedrals, to 19th century New York row houses, the lineage of the hood mold is impressive and something any historic home owner should be proud of.



Jon grew up in South Carolina and studied Historic Preservation and Community Planning at the College of Charleston. His time in Charleston sowed a deep appreciation for both classical and vernacular styles and the importance of their conservation. He is currently working in Charlotte, North Carolina and hopes to break into the field of architectural preservation soon.


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