Rafter Tales: Telling the Stories of Historic Houston

Craftsman home with rafter tails
A Craftsman home with a tasteful addition proudly displaying its rafter tails. 2013

Welcome to Rafter Tales, Houston’s newest blog dedicated to historic preservation. Like the people who call it home, Houston has an incredibly diverse built environment. From the cottages in Norhill, to the mansions on Courtlandt Place, to the mid-century moderns in Glenbrook Valley, Houston’s historic fabric illustrates a vibrant and thriving history. In the entries to come, we will be exploring and celebrating Houston’s past through the buildings and neighborhoods that have endured.

What can you expect from Rafter Tales?

  • Profiles of historic districts, neighborhoods and buildings
  • Stories about the people and organizations making positive contributions to Historic Preservation in Houston
  • Photos essays showing how Houston grew into the city it is today
  • Musings on the state of historic preservation
  • Practical advice about living in and maintaining a historic home
  • Descriptions and definitions of jargon used in historic preservation

What’s with the Name?

Unadorned rafter
House with unadorned rafter tails. 2013

As a column dedicated to historic preservation, it just made sense to choose a name that somehow references Houston’s architectural history. Though Houston is home to a wide range of architectural styles, cottages are particularly well represented and they seem like the perfect source for a name.

What are rafter tails? They are the visible extensions of the house’s rafters, the interior beams that support the roof. Exposed rafter tails are a distinctive feature of many cottages, particularly those built in the Craftsman style. They can be simple, as in the photograph above, or can be quite ornate.

Of course, none of this is meant to suggest that buildings without exposed rafter tails are any less important or likely to be featured on this blog. We love our midcentury-moderns and ranches down in Glenbrook Valley just as much. Each style contributes to the Houston that we love and strive to preserve.

Two-story with rafter tails
Rafter tails AND two stories? This triplex has everything! 2013
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