Dating Greek Revival

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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AlHunt
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 11:14 pm
Location: Guilford, Maine
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Post by AlHunt »

Hosted elsewhere, but here are some pictures:

Examples of the barn:

Rafter (and light through the barn roof)
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A post:
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Another post:
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A corner:
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Saw marks in a post:
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Windows over the missing door:
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Wooden corner bead inside the house:
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and a detail of same:
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Example of the door hinges:
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And the front door knob:
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One of the three dormers (all identical):
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Three views of the staircase:
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A window from the inside:
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And the catch that holds it up:
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Lastly, something I'm curious about. A funny little cubbyhole opening into the room *behind* the fireplace, snuggled up next to the chimney:

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And with the door open: (fireplace is on the otherside of this wall and to the left of the cubby)
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A closer look inside. The interior is broken away (no, I didn't do this) exposing the side of the chimney:
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Anyway, I hope these images work ok and the post isn't toooo looong. Thanks the the responses so far - we're looking forward to put any help we can get dating this old house.

Al

bookish
Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:43 pm

Post by bookish »

The cubby is quite likely a smoke chamber that was later turned into a cabinet.
The placement for it to be one is right. These things were tucked into the chimney stack anywhere they'd fit, on staircases, in bedrooms, etc. Some were quite small, others were as large as a closet. As a matter of fact, generations later people thought they were closets.
I don't know when they quit putting these things in houses. The examples I know of are all from the early 1800's and before that, but that's no reason to think they weren't building them in the mid 1800's.

A House for Everyman by Joyce Bibber (I think her name was Joyce) is about Maine Greek revival homes. You should be able to get a copy from your local library or interlibrary loan. I happen to know there are copies floating around.

AlHunt
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Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 11:14 pm
Location: Guilford, Maine
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Post by AlHunt »

bookish wrote:The cubby is quite likely a smoke chamber that was later turned into a cabinet.
Would this chamber then have been used for smoking meats? I'd have to tear the wall apart to see if there's more to it than meets the eye (which my wife wants to do anyway, to expose the brick chimney).

This obviously would not have been a "smoke chamber" as in where the smoke accumulates before heading up the flue, but for some other purpose?

Al

S Melissa
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Location: Canton Michigan
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Post by S Melissa »

I don't think your house is GR. Hard to tell from the exterior picture - the trees block the view :cry: But the dormers don't really fit the GR style, The windows don't fit the GR look, the door knobs are more late victorian rather than GR I would think. It might have started life as a GR, but may have been later remodeled near the end of the 1800's. Looks like you have lots of fun ahead of you!

the barn is great!
Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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bookish
Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:43 pm

Post by bookish »

The smoke oven was for smoking meats. It should have a small flue that either goes up the chimney stack or vents somewhere into the chimney.
A small fire would be laid inside the oven, often in an iron kettle, using some kind of fuel that would smoke but not burn, like corncobs or some barks, etc. The piece of meat, or several meats, sausages, etc would be hung in there. If it was a smoke oven there should be some kind of marks where an iron rod or hooks or such would have been.
Every 3 days or so they'd add more fuel and just keep smoking away.

From what I can make out of the picture it looks like a typical Maine house. Mainers were never really cutting edge folks when it came to architectural style. The reason that Greek revival was so popular was because it was cheap to build. As years went by they'd tweak this and that, add dormers, update the windows....Simple, small,Gothic style houses abound too. Sometimes some of the house styles seem to blend together. I've got pix of some Maine houses in my Picasa album. I've got to stroll around and see if I can remember to jot dates down for them and maybe take some more pix.

http://picasaweb.google.com/grazhe/ASSORTEDOLDHOUSES

Don M
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Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2003 11:35 am
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

Post by Don M »

Hi Al,
Those little cubbies were not for smoking meats or baking; they are typically found next to fireplaces or chimneys but they are often found in dining & living rooms where there never was any cooking done. My in-law's 1760 house had one in their dining room. I have two in my 1840 living room and another next to a chimney in our second floor guest room. What ever was kept there would stay warm in the winter due to the heated bricks in the chimney.
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There were big brick cooking fireplaces with iron cranes for holding and moving pots of food over the fire. These often did have brick ovens built into the cooking fireplace that functioned as described above.

If you are planning on saving your barn you should repair the roof as soon as possible because water is the great killer of barns. Your barn photos show evidence of water damage on a lot of the M&T joints.
Don
1840 Limestone Farmhouse
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lrkrgrrl
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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 9:50 am
Location: Northeast

Post by lrkrgrrl »

I agree with Don on those cubbies and closets. I've seen them from VA up to Maine, and presume they would be used to store things that shouldn't freeze. Or to pop clothes into to keep them warm. :wink:

Folks were pretty savvy that smoke and fire needed to be contained, so smoke chambers would be inside the main masonry of the chimney, not in a wood frame outside it.

bookish
Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:43 pm

Post by bookish »

I thought there were bricks surrounding the whole thing and it was one with the chimney?
If not, my error.

AlHunt
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Location: Guilford, Maine
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Post by AlHunt »

S Melissa wrote:I don't think your house is GR. Hard to tell from the exterior picture - the trees block the view :cry: But the dormers don't really fit the GR style, ... the barn is great!
Yeah, the barn is great, but it needs a roof and sills ...

Here are a few more pics I grabbed today of dormers, windows and such. I thought the coulmn-looking corners, dentil in the trimwork and the wide trim boards under the eaves were typical of the greek revival style.

The bay window - ignore the large window at the front - it replaced 3 smaller windows (which will be restored)
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The front corner of the house:
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A couple of more dormers:
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The peak of the house:
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The porch roof:
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And a closer look at a couple of exterior windows:
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Thanks to everyone for their comments!

Al

AlHunt
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 11:14 pm
Location: Guilford, Maine
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Post by AlHunt »

bookish wrote:I thought there were bricks surrounding the whole thing and it was one with the chimney?
If not, my error.
Oh, no .. it kind of straddles the side. The chimney is sort of pyramid shaped at that particular point as it goes up.

Hard to tell what's what from pictures on the net.

Al

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