Cupola F.A.Q.
Frequently Asked Questions about
Cupolas and their Answers

Part Two

(jump to Part One)

The following Cupola F.A.Q. is the result of the many email messages that I have received regarding cupolas and my site in general.  It is now in two parts, having grown too large for a single page.  Please understand that any links that appear on this page are only to assist you in your search for additional information.  They are not meant as an endorsement of any company, product, or service.  Also note that at any given moment, a few of the offsite links found here may be offline.  This is the nature of links, web servers, and the ever changing Internet.  Most bounce back within a day or two.  Cupola periodically verifies and updates its collection of links, so any really dead or broken ones will not hang around indefinitely.

Cupola questions answered on THIS page:

Cupola questions answered on the Previous page:

Where may I stay in a cupola?
Looking for a room with a cupola?  Well, a few inns, hotels, and B&B's do feature them, or their close tower and belfry relatives. Here's a list of some places that you might try:

The Ann Starrett Mansion in Port Townsend, Washington.  A well-known Bed and Breakfast in the Stick Style that features a prominent stair tower with a cupola cap.

The Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel of Taneytown, Maryland.  According to local legend, Civil War General George Meade planned his Gettysburg campaign from the rooftop cupola of this former plantation.

The Bever-Roberts Tower in Mendocino, California.  A charming tower house for rent, crowned with a cool observation deck.

The Big Bay Point Lighthouse in Big Bay, Michigan.  Not really a cupola, but it's a close relative.

The Captain Wheeler House in Mystic, Connecticut.  A gracious vacation rental house, built in 1853 in the Italianate style.  Features a cool rooftop cupola bedroom with a view.  Check out the house tour.

The Chalfonte Hotel, in Cape May, New Jersey.  Built in 1876 in the elegant Italianate style, this historic landmark boasts leisurely, wraparound verandas, and a handsome rooftop cupola to boot.  Recipient of the New Jersey Historic Preservation Award in 2001.

Cupola, a Bed and Breakfast in Rome, Italy.  It doesn't have a cupola of its own, but it does offer a view of the one that crowns the Vatican.

Cupola House in Essex, New York.  Located on Lake Champlain in upstate New York, this restored Greek Revival guesthouse sports a simple rooftop cupola.  A phone number is available here, if that link goes offline.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  This splendid old Queen Anne resort hotel features a bar in its big cupola.

The House of the Seasons. Located in Jefferson, Texas, this Bed and Breakfast is an Italianate Villa with a large central cupola on its roof.  It is also open for touring (check their site for details), and is historically significant enough for inclusion in the Historic American Building Survey.

The Mansion Hill Inn of Madison, Wisconsin.  Locally known as a rare example of the German Romaneque Revival style, in many ways it also evokes the spirit of an Italianate villa.  Inside a 4 story spiral staircase climbs up to a belvedere with a panoramic view of the city and its lakes.

The Mayhurst Inn in Orange, Virginia.  An Italianate Bed and Breakfast with a handsome cupola near Madison's Montpelier and Jefferson's Monticello.

The Sagamore Resort, Bolton Landing, New York.  Set in the Adirondacks on Lake George, this historic grand hotel features a cupola crowned entrance tower reminiscent of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Southern Mansion of Cape May, New Jersey is an Italianate Inn with a cupola.  They were recently advertising a rather unique gourmet dining experience for up to four people, served in their rooftop cupola.

The Stanyan Park Hotel.  A Victorian style hotel located in San Francisco, California, that offers a room called the Cupola Room.  Judging from the hotel picture, it looks like it might be more of a dome covered corner room than a rooftop sanctuary.

Taylor House, a Bed and Breakfast Inn in Boston, Massachusetts, is a blend of Italianate and Greek Revival styles.  Built in 1855, it  sports a handsome octagonal rooftop cupola.

Thayers Inn, of Littleton, New Hampshire.  Built around 1850 in the Greek Revival vernacular, this gracious inn is blessed with an octagonal rooftop cupola of Italianate design.

The Upham Hotel of Santa Barbara, California.  Billed as the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California, this 1871 landmark is topped with a belvedere cupola characteristic of the Italianate Villa style.

The Wentworth Mansion of Charleston, South Carolina is a Second Empire style inn.  It features an elegant spiral staircase that leads up to a towering cupola, where guests can take in a panoramic view of the historic city.

The Windham Hill Inn in West Townshend, Vermont (southern Vermont).  Its Marion Goodfellow suite in the White Barn offers a stairway leading to a cupola with a window seat.

Where's a good place to see (or maybe tour) a cupola?
Several of the State Capitol Buildings that I list in my Cupolas of Capitalism section offer public tours of their domes and cupolas (some by special appointment only).  Many churches do too, especially some of the better known ones in Europe, like Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence (Florence Cathedral) and San Pietro Basilica (St. Peter's Basilica, a.k.a. the Vatican) in Rome. Here are a few others that you might find worth a visit.

Chateau Chambord.  The roof of this spectacular 16th century royal castle is a riot of rooftop cupolas, turrets, and chimneys.  Located near Tours, in France's beautiful Loire River valley.

The Cupola House in Edenton, North Carolina, an early colonial dwelling that is a National Historic Landmark.

The old Governor's Mansion in Sacramento, California, was designed in 1877 by architect Nathaniel Goodell in the Second Empire style.  While it doesn't really have a real cupola per se, it does boast a 5 story tower once used for intimate late night poker parties.  The tower is now off limits to visitors.

Hampton National Historic Site in Towson, Maryland.  An elegant Georgian mansion built in 1790, and capped with an impressive domed cupola / belvedere.  Run by the U.S. National Park Service.  More info and pictures of the building and its grounds are available at Gilbert Le Blanc's Computer Chair Traveler website.

The Hay House in Macon, Georgia, is an 18000 sq. ft. Italian Renaissance Revival home crowned with a domed rooftop cupola/ belvedere.

Heritage Square in Los Angeles, CA.  Boasts at least two houses with cupolas.  The Knudsen House is a Second Empire style home with a belvedere style rooftop cupola.  The Octagon House possesses a central rooftop cupola crown.  The open air museum also features several other fine Victorian buildings.

The Houmas House is an elegant Greek Revival plantation home built in 1840 near Burnside, Louisiana.  A big windowed cupola tower crowns its roof.

The Hyde Octagon House of Mumford, New York (formerly of Friendship, New York).  A historic house museum with a cupola in the octagon style popularized in the mid 1800's by Orson Squire Fowler, the noted phrenologist.  Here's a tongue-in-cheek description of the field.  It is part of the collection of over forty restored structures at the Genesee Country Village and Museum, a living history museum in western New York State.

The Lincoln-Tallman Restorations in Janesville, Wisconsin is another grand old Italianate villa (1855-57) with a rooftop cupola/ belvedere.  Abraham Lincoln once stayed overnight here while on a speaking tour in 1859.  All five levels, from basement to cupola, are open for touring.

Longwood, in Natchez Mississippi, is an octagonal antebellum plantation designed by noted Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan and built between 1860 and 1861.  Although the Civil War prevented its completion, the home stands out for its exotic design, as its record in the Historic American Building Survey makes clear.  It sports a commanding, 16 sided rooftop cupola/ belvedere.  More pictures and information are available from the National Register of Historic Places database that the U.S. National Park Service hosts.

The Maine State Building in Poland Spring, Maine.  One of the remaining buildings from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.  This unusual octagonal Victorian with Chateauesque leanings includes a three story rotunda that is capped with a leaded glass dome and a fanciful open-air rooftop belvedere/ cupola.  More pictures and info here and here.

Mount Vernon.  President George Washington's home in Virginia undoubtedly helped popularize the cupola across the United States.

The John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California.  The Italianate style home of the famous conservationist features a central rooftop cupola / belvedere.

The Octagon House of San Francisco, California.  One of two Italianate homes of octagonal design left in the city, and the only one open to the public.  It features a relatively short, rooftop cupola.

The Loren Andrus Octagon House of Washington, Michigan.  Built by a man from Genesee County in New York, this Italianate, brick home boasts a spiral staircase that climbs to a third floor, rooftop cupola.

The Octagon House of Watertown, Wisconsin.  Home of the Watertown Historical Society, this impressive brick home boasts a fifth floor cupola with commanding views of the nearby Rock River.  The cupola is open to the public and is accessible from a central spiral staircase.

The Asa Packer Mansion Museum of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.  Designed by the same architect of Longwood mentioned earlier, this grand 18 room Italianate villa is capped with a magnificent central rooftop cupola/ belvedere.

The Pardee House of Oakland, California.  A gracious Italianate Villa (1868) that was home to the California governor who served during the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.  Features a grand rooftop cupola.  Located next to the charming Preservation Park.

The Rich-Twinn Octagon House of Akron, New York.  The Newstead Historical Society  maintains this octagonal house museum with a cupola.

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England.  This formal royal palace boasts an Indian inspired design with a profusion of onion domes and minerets.  Initially constructed as a neoclassical pavilion in the late 18th century, architect John Nash transformed it into this exotic pleasure palace between 1813 and 1823.

San Francisco Plantation in Garyville, Louisiana.  An inspired Steamboat Gothic fantasy topped with a low cupola / monitor.  Flanking the house are some rather exotic looking towers with onion domes.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.  An impressive virtual reality site of one of the most famous domed buildings in the world.  Parts of the site are only visible after a small donation.  PBS also offers some good coverage of this monument via its "Treasures of the World" program.

Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, Missouri.  Features several fanciful Victorian garden pavilions with cupolas.

The Wilcox Octagon House of Camillus, New York.  Still another historic house museum with a cupola in the octagon style.

The Winchester Mystery House of San Jose, California.  Built in response to the supernatural concerns of its owner, widowed inheritor of the Winchester rifle fortune, this Queen Anne pile has become legendary as the ultimate spook house.   Largely unfinished, it offers a fascinating glimpse into Victorian construction.  Its roof features a cornucopia of gables, towers, and cupolas of one kind or another.

Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.  A Romanesque Revival structure that is the home of the world's largest refracting telescope.  Technically speaking, the observatory's three domes are merely cupola related structures rather than cupolas themselves.  It's still a great place to visit.

What other cupola related links can you recommend?
Here are a few that I have come across with some sort of cupola or dome connection:

All About Domes.  An excellent primer on the design and construction of selected domes throughout history.  Part of WGBH of Boston's Building Big website, which supplements their five part public television series of the same name.

Armenian Monuments.  Many of the churches and monasteries in this image collection feature cupolas and related structures.  Part of Vahagn Avedian's history of Armenia at

The Aurora Regional Fire Museum in Aurora, Illinois.  This firefighting history museum has made its home in a delightful Victorian firehouse with an onion dome.

The Barn Journal.  What's a barn without a cupola?  Well, they're not always present, but the round barn section of this site features quite a few.

Brunelleschi's Cupola at Florence Cathedral.  One of the most important engineering feats of the Italian Renaissance.  Part of the Florence Art Guide website.

The Christus Rex site.  Offers an enormous collection of photos of St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican City in Rome.  The church boasts one of the largest masonry domes and cupolas ever built, and a rooftop that is an almost surreal landscape of undulating domes and cupolas.

The Chapel of the Holy Shroud.  From Kim Williams, an article about Guarino Guarini's Baroque masterpiece in Turin, Italy.  Crowned with one of the strangest domes and cupolas ever conceived, the chapel was unfortunately heavily damaged in a 1997 fire.  The article discusses restoration efforts, and still appears here thanks to the Internet Archive.  See this University of Chicago Press site for more dome pictures and info.

The Circular Temple chapter, from the Ten Books on Architecture by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, (Morris Hicky Morgan, editor of this English edition).  This ancient and highly influential architectural treatise describes the design of circular temples, which have inspired many a cupola.  Part of the Project Gutenberg website.

The Dome, Symbol of American Democracy.  A nice exhibit from the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.  Thanks to the Internet Archive for continuing to make it available.

The Grand Mosque dome of Bahrain. View of a contemporary dome built from fiber reinforced polyester, part of the BFG International site.

The Dome of the Rock.  Wikipedia article on the oldest Islamic building in the world.

The L'Islam site.  Offers a great picture gallery of Islamic architecture, with an exuberant display of cupolas, domes, and minarets.  The site also covers Islamic religion, art, and culture.  In Italian only.

The Millennium Dome.  As a sort of modern day Crystal Palace, this enormous exhibition hall welcomed in the Western World's 21st century.  Large enough to enclose the Great Pyramid of Giza, it is currently only open for short term special events.  Links thanks to Wikipedia as the originals go dark.

Moscow Churches.  Offers history and a number of images of many of the city's onion-domed and cupola-topped churches.

The Novgorod Architecture pages.  Part of a larger site on this Russian city, this section includes quite a few examples of historic buildings with onion domes and cupolas.  These sites about the central Asian countries of the Tatarstan and Uzbekistan offer examples in a similar vein.

David Moore's Roman Concrete website.  Includes extensive coverage of the Pantheon, a Roman temple built circa 100-125 A.D.  Its dome was unsurpassed in clear span for more than a millennium, and still stands today, an incredible feat of ancient engineering.

The Sacred Sites website, where anthropologist Martin Gray shares his excellent photographs of religious sites from around the world.  The scholarly commentary that he has been adding is an added bonus.  Plenty of cupolas and domes on display here, check out his page on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and this one of some churches in Russia to see a few.

Sarah Brandes Madry's book, Well Worth a Shindy, The Architectural and Philosophical History of the Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Thoughtful exploration of a round temple design that crowns an old well.  Offers an excellent review of similar circular temple forms throughout history, and the ideas that they represent.

Wooden Churches of Eastern Europe.  A review of David Buxton's book by Andrew Gregorovich.  Offers a number of images and sketches of old wooden churches sporting a profusion of onion domes and cupolas.

The World Domes and History site.  Now only available via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, it provides a comparison of domes from around the world.  Includes several historic ones, with an emphasis on modern day sports domes.  Take the building statistics with a grain of salt though, these tend to vary somewhat from source to source.  From the Takenaka Corporation.

Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics website.  Offers a mathematical description of a cupola.  A few of the cupola types he defines mathematically are the triangular cupola, the square cupola, and the pentagonal cupola.

Who maintains this site?
A crazy person, isn't it obvious?  Please refer to my About Cupola section for more information.

Will you add my link to your site?
It depends.  This is a personal site with a fun and educational focus.  It is NOT intended as a commercial venture.  I try to provide links that I think are appropriate and that my visitors will find useful.  Send me a with your link for consideration.  I will be happy to link to any site that I feel will add to and improve upon the content already here.  If you have found this site useful and enjoyable, please consider returning the favor.

Will you email or send me pictures from the site?
Sorry, but no.  But most browsers offer some means of grabbing images from a web page.  In more recent versions of Netscape or Explorer, you simply right-click on the desired image with your mouse.  That should bring up a pop-up a menu with an option to "Save Picture (or Image) As".  Doing so lets you download it to your own disk.  Images on the site are NOT for commercial use, but you may download them for private or educational use.  Please read Cupola's Legal Stuff for more information about using materials from this site.

What about emailing or sending me other files from the site?
Sorry, same answer as the one above about pictures.

Hey!  What's all this architectural stuff doing here?  I was expecting a business site!
You may be looking for our sister site,  It is the website of Cupola Consulting, a Silicon Valley I.S. company that offers system and network administration, computer support, and architectural cadd management services.

Or you may be looking for the Cupola Group.  They once maintained a corporate website at  Apparently they abandoned it in favor of one that evolved out of their Cupola Information Group.

The Cupola website (where you are now) is independently owned and operated, and has no connection whatsoever with the Cupola Group or its affiliates.

Please note that email sent to the Cupola Group is NOT in the form of  I take no responsibility for any email meant for the Cupola Group that is misdirected to the domain.  It will not be forwarded or returned.  Most likely it will be destroyed upon delivery anyway.  Cupola Group employees are encouraged to check their own email client settings for a legitimate Cupola Group return address, so replies to messages they send out will be routed properly.

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