The majority of roofs of Stoughton’s commercial buildings are flat and hidden behind a low vertical extension of the facade called a “parapet.” The uppermost part of the parapet is often decorated with special architectural elements that formally announce that this is the top of the building, its crown. These elements can be formed of the facade material itself, such as an intricate brick pattern, or can be applied to the facade, such as a wood or pressed metal cornice.
There is great architectural variety to be found in the cornices of Main Street: many of them combine all the elements of ancient Greek architecture—entablature, dentils, frieze and cornice. Frequently, these crowning elements include a raised central portion, or pediment, that breaks the flat horizontality of the roof edge; the brick buildings at 400 E. Main and 160 E. Main have intricate rounded brick pediments, while the buildings at 139-195 E. Main have triangular pediments. Pediments provide an important visual accent.
Guideline on Roof Forms
It is very important that cornices and pediments be preserved with an ongoing program of maintenance. When necessary, cornices should be replaced with identical forms. In new construction, residential-type gabled roofs should be avoided in favor of a sloped roof hidden from view on the front facade by a parapet; decoration of the roofline by use of special materials or decorative details should use examples of other buildings on Main Street as a guide.
SETBACK — RELATIONSHIP TO THE STREET
Most of commercial Main Street consists of buildings set a uniform distance back from the curb. In some blocks, this uniform setback forms an uninterrupted wall of buildings; in other blocks the “wall” is broken by open, undeveloped lots or parking lots. These blocks tend to have a less cohesive feeling. A few Main Street commercial buildings are set back slightly more than their neighbors. Usually, these are examples of older buildings that predate the Victorian “Main Street Era” and should be preserved or maintained as important reminders of Stoughton’s historic development. However, if these buildings are irreplaceably damaged, new construction should maintain the alignment of the facades of neighboring buildings.
In the Depot area many buildings are set behind parking lots, a great depth from the street. In some instances, such as the tiny former filling station at 401 East Main, the siting of the building reflects the different purpose of the building and is an important part of the significance of the building and Main Street, at a certain historic point in time.
Guideline for Setbacks
It is important in the blocks where a uniform setback exists that new construction maintain the alignment of facades along the sidewalk edge. This guideline also pertains to parking lots and unbuilt areas; the edge of the sidewalk should be emphasized with some visible barrier such as a decorative wall or plantings so that the setback is recognized. In blocks where setbacks are not uniform, the function and design of neighboring buildings should be taken into account when determining setbacks. Of course, the restrictions outlined in zoning ordinances must be given careful consideration.