An architectural widow’s walk can be described several ways including: a balcony on a roof; a roof enclosure; roof railing; roof walk; roof fence; flat roof deck and railing; railed rooftop observation platform. A widow’s walk, flat roof deck or observation platform on the roof of a house, enclosed by a railing or balustrade is sometimes formed by truncating the top of a hip roof. A widow’s walk, roof walk or sometimes referred to as a captain’s walk was typically found on a coastal house, originally designed as a lookout for observing vessels at sea. The name widows walk derived from the wives of fishermen or mariners, who would gaze out over the ocean, from their rooftop balcony watching for their husband’s safe return. Tragically, the ocean would sometimes take the life of the seamen, leaving their wives as widows. Their widows would then frequently pace and gaze out to sea from their rooftop platform wishing beyond hope that their loved ones would miraculously still return home and thus the name widow’s walk was coined. Beyond their use as viewing platforms, widows walks were also frequently built around the chimney of a residence, creating easy access or passage to the chimney.This was done to allow home owners, in the event of a chimney fire, to pour sand down their burning chimney, to hopefully prevent their house from burning down. Widows walks might also surround a cupola or turret projecting from a rooftop.Widow’s walks can also be seen as a decorative architectural accent, distinctive and eye-catching on stately homes today, even on many homes far inland from the sea. Pictured below are sections of a widows walk made from pure copper. Depending on the layout of the roof platform to be enclosed, one to four railing sections might be used to enclose the roof deck forming a pen or enclosure.
Copper Widows Walk Roof Railing
Decorative Widows Walk Corner Finial