Proportion is the relationship between the facade’s height and its width. In Stoughton, the Italianate buildings are much taller than they are wide, with an average 35 to 40-foot height and a 25-foot width. It is interesting to note that “The Golden Section,” the “perfect” proportion, is 40 to 25; it seems that 19th century architects were well-schooled in this principle of design. Later buildings tend to be more block-like, with proportion of height to width much closer; the Classical Revival style building at 154 W. Main Street is about 40 feet high and 50 feet wide.
Guideline on Proportion
On a block-by-block basis, the proportions of new buildings should reflect the building proportions characteristic to that block. The proportions of the 1990 Library addition facing Main Street are similar to the proportions of the original Library building facade and respect the earlier building.
In each architectural style, window proportions vary: in the Italianate style, windows are tall and narrow; in the Classical Revival style, they are broad and square. The proportion for window openings is often similar to the proportion of the building facade itself: a tall, narrow building will have tall, narrow windows; a building that is more square in facade proportion will have windows that are more square. This harmonious relationship between proportions of window openings and the proportion of the facade itself makes for a pleasing architectural design. It is not unusual to see buildings where new windows have replaced original ones. When the new windows are significantly shorter than the window opening, the new window changes the proportion of the opening and jeopardizes the harmony of the building facade.
Guideline for Window Proportion
In blocks where windows are consistently proportioned, new construction or remodeling of existing buildings should maintain this proportion and spacing of windows. Where old sash will be replaced with new sash, make the replacement with sash of the same size and appearance rather than blocking part of the window opening and therefore changing its proportion.