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The vertical triangular end of a house or other building, from the cornice or eaves to the top. — Webster, 1882

Work on Mayor Ruth’s new residence property progresses rapidly. The building will have six gables. – Kingsbury County News, May 1888

In traditional construction of a rectangular building with a peaked roof (what Laura Ingalls Wilder described as two claim shanties, each with roof slanting one way, put together), the triangular area under the roof on two sides is called the gable. The photo below left is the first schoolhouse; at right is the Surveyors’ House. The postcard view at right is of the “The House of Seven Gables,” made popular by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book by the same name. Four gables are circled in green. To learn more about that house in Salem, Massachusetts, click HERE.

In The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder noted the “gable end” the first schoolhouse in De Smet was where the boarded-in entrance was placed; the gable end of a building includes both the triangular gable and the square or rectangular wall portion beneath. It doesn’t matter if the area is differentiated in some way from the rest of the wall; the part under the roof from where the roof meets the wall to the point of the roof is the gable. In By the Shores of Silver Lake, she noted the window in the gable of the Surveyors’ House. Both buildings can be toured on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society grounds in De Smet, South Dakota. Can you pick out the gable in each photograph? Note that the schoolhouse entry also has a gable.

Although the newspaper blurb above mentions six gables on Banker Ruth’s house, Prairie House Manor Bed & Breakfast – formerly the home of Thomas Ruth – has a hip roof, and therefore no gables on the facing sides. Guess how many dormers the house has?


gable (SSL 14; TLW 8)