Fifthroom Living


The History of Gazebos

The history of gazebos is a fascinating, and this article from, written by Kathy Moran, and edited/added to slightly by myself, sums it up perfectly. This article is interesting enough to enjoy whether you are considerate purchasing a gazebo, or not. Without further ado, The History of Gazebos:

Intro to Gazebos

Although the etymology of the word gazebo is shrouded in mystery, one thing is clear, gazebos have been fixtures in gardens all over the world for centuries. Their popularity and presence have become more widespread with every generation, and they have emerged as the most prevalent outdoor garden structures in the world. Originally called summerhouses, screen houses, kiosks, pavilions, pergolas, arbors, grottos, or pagodas, the existence of gazebos has been traced to the earliest known gardens.

Gazebos actually started out as towers or lanterns on the roofs of houses, and were built specifically to afford advantageous views of the surrounding areas. It wasn’t until years later that the structures were built on the ground as summerhouses.

Gazebos from the Beginning of Time

Gazebos were common in Egyptian gardens 5,000 years ago. As you might imagine, members of royalty were the first to have them. In fact, many thought of their gardens as earthly paradises, and believed they could take them to the afterlife. When one wished to do so, it was customary to have the plans for their dwellings and a complete layout of the garden depicted in a mural in one’s tomb. Such murals, gazebos included, have been found in tombs dating to 1400 B.C.

The structures were also popular in ancient Rome and Pompeii. As the population of Rome increased, the affluent and aristocratic began building summerhouses along the Mediterranean, complete with gazebos.

Also flourishing in the East, gazebos in tenth-century Persian gardens were anything from colorful tents with mats on the floors, to ornate, two-story structures with cupolas, marble columns, and golden seats. Some were even constructed across pools or streams so that the cold water running beneath their marble floors would help to cool them. Others were actually used as tombs for their owners.

China’s gazebos were also quite elaborate, while those in Japan, often called teahouses, were used in conjunction with the revered Tea Ceremonies, and were the places to rest, get in touch with one’s spiritual side, and absorb the beauty of the garden.

During the Renaissance, gazebos became popular in the gardens of monasteries, as shrines, and places of meditation.

Middle Age Gazebos

In the 14th century, France had four gazebos built at the Louvre. The French style influenced those in many other countries, including England, where they surged in popularity in the 15th century. In Elizabethan gardens, where they were commonly designed after the main house, they were used for entertaining.

During the late 1700’s, England and other parts of Europe got caught up in a craze for Chinese-style summerhouses, which began popping up in gardens everywhere.

Actually, it was this very fad that eventually led to the word gazebo. Virtually unknown before the mid-eighteenth century, it entered the vocabulary in a 1752 book, entitled, ‘New Designs for Chinese Temples’, by William Halfpenny (nom de plume for Michael Hoare), a prolific architectural writer, and his son, John. Nobody is sure of the origin of the word. Stymied etymologists have speculated that William Halfpenny playfully added the Latin ending –ebo, as in videbo (‘I shall see’) to the word ‘gaze’, to get the humorous meaning ‘I will look,’ as the structure has always been used primarily as a point of observation. Although no one can prove it, believe it or not, that’s the best educated guess!

Early American Gazebos

Whatever the case, in early America, gazebos were not the foremost thing on the colonists’ minds, because, well, you know. Gazebos did not gain popularity here until the mid-1800’s, with the prosperity of the new middle class. Although they fell slightly out of favor again around the turn of the century, as houses were being built with grand porches, they made a return around 1930. Apparently, there was no denying the advantage of having a quiet place to retreat to from the household chaos, not to mention the fact that they were status symbols.

In the 40’s, patios came into fashion and edged out gazebos for a while, but sometime during the 80’s, the gazebo came back with a vengeance.

Gazebos of Today

Today, they’re springing up in homes and gardens all across the country. Adaptable to the whims of the designer, they can be round, square, octagonal, or rectangular, small or large, ornate or plain, elegant or rustic, and anything else that one can dream up.

At we have a large selection of Gazebos and Outdoor Patio Furniture to match. Check out our current selections today, and customize to your heart’s desire with our award-winning design wizard technology.


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