I Love Gingerbread Houses

Elegantly built, intricately decorated, uniquely Haitian architectural homes.  These beauties are unique to Haiti and often ornately detailed with steep roofs, and magnificent color combinations. 

Gingerbread Brown & Yellow (2003) by Amerlin DelinoisHaiti Film Institute

The Gingerbread Era

Gingerbread houses are turn-of-the century elegant homes detailed with wood and intricate latticework. Haitian painters often depict these beauties in their artwork.

Artist Amerlin Delinois in his series of paintings on Gingerbread houses pays particular attention to the details associated with the attire and landscape of the period.

Gingerbread Brick & Pink (2003) by Amerlin DelinoisHaiti Film Institute

Gingerbread All Around

Haitian "Gingerbread" houses are primarily located in Port-Au-Prince, but are also located in other cities in Haiti, including Jérémie, Jacmel, and Cap-Haïtien. 

Gingerbread Pink & Green (2003) by Amerlin DelinoisHaiti Film Institute

French Style in Haiti

The gingerbread style is said to have begun in 1881 with the Haitian National Palace. In 1895, three young Haitians—Georges Baussan, Léon Mathon, and Joseph-Eugène Maximilien—traveled to Paris to study architecture, learned about nascent architecture and adjusted the style to Haiti's climate and style. 

Gingerbread Brown & Pink (2003) by Amerlin DelinoisHaiti Film Institute

The Upper Crust

Gingerbread houses were primarily occupied by Haiti's most affluent residents with many housing former Haitian Presidents. During the 1950's and 60's some were seasonal residences of the likes of Truman Capote, Graham Greene and Katherine Dunham. 

Gingerbread Pink & Yellow (2003) by Amerlin DelinoisHaiti Film Institute

Withstanding the Test of Time

In addition to the ornate and unique architecture of Gingerbread Houses, they are surprisingly stable.  Most of these houses have withstood decades of natural disasters including earthquakes.  Traditional Haitian construction includes braced timber framing with masonry infills. This type of construction fares much better than cement in earthquakes.

Gingerbread Yellow (2003) by Amerlin DelinoisHaiti Film Institute

Saving Gingerbread Houses

Within the past decade international efforts have been made to preserve Haiti's gingerbread houses.  

Gingerbread White (2003) by Amerlin DelinoisHaiti Film Institute

The World Monuments Fund (WMF), has produced preservation manuals with specific recommendations for maintaining the structures.

Gingerbread House - The House of Dufour (2021) by Garry LaurentHaiti Film Institute

Through the beauty and detail found in these physical structures, they are often the home of art exhibits and galleries.

Credits: Story

Gingerbread paintings by artist Amerlin Delinois.
Videos courtesy of CIDICHA.

Credits: All media
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