Built in 1830 ? (was Dating 18th/19th century Details)

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Built in 1830 ? (was Dating 18th/19th century Details)

Postby jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:23 pm

I now have a theory that the true date is 1830 and the first owner was a retired militia Captain names Abner Johnson Jr. Jump to page 6 for the details!!

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(Greg, I got the idea to put all these images up after the long discussions on the mouldings and 1709 threads)

We seem to have a resurgence of discussion about 18th and early 19th century topics lately, so maybe y'all can help me solve some mysteries and help better date the age and features of my place..

So according our best guesses what we have is:

An original cape, roughly 32' x22' assumed to be circa 1795
A rear ell or shed type addition circa 18??
A porch off the ell ?
Finishing of the attic space, probably in the 1950s
A renovation of the porch to convert it into an enclosed dining room open to the ell and build a new kitchen (best guess 70s)

So first up - details of the original house…

The foundation is rubble stone capped with large granite slabs. The slab sections range up to 6 feet long, squared off on the outside but irregular inside. They don’t have the drill marks you see on 19th century stone.
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The framing seen from the basement and attic… The posts and girts are all hand hewn, most being 6"x6" or 6"x7". the joists are sawn. The roof is framed rafter to plate, as best I can see no purlins, and the rafters themselves are a mix of hewn and sawn.
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Nails found in the basement and attics are all early machine cut, of the type you'd expect right around 1800?
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Ad some detailing in the basement stairwell. You can see the straight saw cut stair stringers and some scraps of wallpaper on the back of a tread.

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So what do you think, does the 1795 estimate look about right?

-Jeremy
Last edited by jharkin on Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:54 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:25 pm

Next up interior detailing in the original part of the house…

The first floor plan is basically as per the one in that antique house book, just reversed, and the stairs run perpendicular to the end wall. What would have been the buttery next to the stairs is where the modern bath is.

As best I can tell the most original detailing is in the stairwell. You can see the plaster on the right and wall still shows the lath wavyness.

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The south parlor (on right as you enter) we made into a den. The trim work could be original based on Gregs comments in another thread but the plaster looks redone. One big question for this room is the fireplace. The mantle detailing seems more federal style to me, one of the reasons (plus taste) we went for more federal style colors with white woodwork and color on the plaster. The chimney was rebuilt 15 years ago so hard to say on the firebox authenticity. 1795 is early for a narrow rumford but not impossible.

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Into the front hall. We have a lot of what I think are original doors. Pegged mortise joinery, 4 panel, 1 1/8” thick and 26 or 27” wide. A few still have these very early cast but hinges and all have markings of removed Suffolk latches. Interestingly none seem to have marks from H hinges.

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The real oddities start in the northeast parlor or hall – what we are using as a bedroom. The room was renovated at some point in the last hundred years and they exposed the corner post, put in a very high chair rail and walled the lower half in plywood (really!). Also look at the hearth. Its as if and old mantle surround was cut off to widen the firebox.

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Last edited by jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:25 pm

A quick note about the second floor. I figure it was unfinished attic. There are no fireplaces and the floorboards are rough with no subfloor. The finish is drywall with some insulation in the roof called “kimsul” that dates to the 1950s. Whomever renovated up here tried to go for the overdone “colonial” look with fake strap hinges etc.

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Last edited by jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:27 pm

Ok now onto the back ell. My biggest question for anyone who has ideas – what year would you date this? Im thinking somewhere between 1800 and 1840 but that’s just a guess. T

The ell is still framed in hand hewn timbers but they are finished smoother than the main house. The foundation is built of smaller stone and the roof rafters are all sawn with a narrow ridgeboard.

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They build a second chimney in the ell with a new cooking fireplace. It’s very small but the ovens were functional once. On the back side of that chimney in the end of the ell is the modern kitchen. We think thats converted workshop or woodshed space. Interestingly behind some paneling there is a cemented in stovepipe connector there, probably for a turn of the centrury wood or coal cookstove.

Also I figure the paneling was somebody’s attempt to make it look “colonial”…

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More details in the addition. You can see the narrower board floors (and the newer yet floors in the later expansion) and where they exposed the framing in a recent renovation.

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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:29 pm

And now the BIG mystery!! What ever happened to the original cooking fireplace? The ell opens directly from the old kitchen, however there is NO third fireplace on the central chimney, instead the steam boiler in the basement vents up through the space where one would be. See how the hearth extension in the 2 front halls are supported on the chimney girts? No evidence of anything similar for the kitchen or even such framing having been removed (no mortises from a removed girt).

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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby jharkin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:35 pm

Details I didnt mention...

The exterior siding has all been redone with cedar clapboard and new corner boards so no clues there.

The windows are all replacements. Upstairs are wooden 6 over 9s thats still have the old counterweights, but the sashes are finger jointed and glued so probably less than 100 years old. Downstairs are wood 6 over 6 aluminum track :(

Exterior doors when I got it were ugly fake batten jobs that had rotted out. I put up new replacement panel doors so again no clues..
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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby gregV on Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:02 pm

Very cool Jeremy. Very similar to my house. I'll absorb this and give ya my thoughts. For one thing it seems you house has survived very well. Thanks for sharing these!
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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby gregV on Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:47 pm

First, I enlarged all the photos and really checked them out,

Well JEREMY,, let's start with the biggest elephant in the room. A center chimney foundation and first floor joist system that does not support there ever being a third firebox. One might take a stab at the fact that maybe that section of foundation masonry had been removed, but then the framing, as you say, shows signs of being all original including the sub flooring nailed to it. Correct? The two parlor brick hearths seem to be original to the house. Are the built in cupboards on the side of each parlor firebox original also? Normally they would have been on the other side of the firebox, in both rooms. So clue two is that if they have always been there then I would assume, pretty strongly that there was never a 'traditional' 'keepimg room' firebox.
So, then we look at two things. Is there any sign that there was a stove pipe hole into the stack where you would have thought the missing firebox would have been?
Second, are there any indications that the ell was original or added later?

First job. Measure the length of the bricks being used in the other two hearths. Then measure the length of the bricks in the ell on the facade of that ell firebox , not the hearth as I strongly suspect that the hearth ones are newer brick. The facade ones look to be early brick and nice tight early mortar with the correct color. (you can compare that also, the spacing in between bricks)
That yellow woodwork is suspect JEREMY,. Suspect to be very old! Maybe not, as I am only going on enlarged grainy low pixel pics, but I see things in it that make me feel its quite old. Even that cupboard, at least the doors, looks to be old. Hinges NO. But as I say I can't really see it clearly. What does it look like inside there? How about thos drawers? How are the built? Maybe you already know it's obviously new?

I'm guessing, and yes it's way to early for a guess, that the ell was built the same time as the main house and always intended as the kitchen. Most all "added on" ells became the kitchen in earlier homes.
Is that stack in the ell attic for that cooking firebox we are talking about now? If so, measure that brick also. Being you can maybe find a length and width with those ones, then also get the width of the parlor hearth ones. We are trying to see if the masonry was laid at the same time.

Lets start with this. Bed time! ;-)

soryy,
Last edited by gregV on Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby jharkin on Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:11 am

Greg-

I'll take some measurements over the weekend... but some initial thoughts.

The chimney base:
There is a ledge upon which the boiler stack is built (of modern brick). Could have been they removed the stonework for the kitchen hearth, but yet the joists there run straight from the chimney to the side of the house with no breaks. If there were a hearth there would have to have been some support for the end of the heart extension, and if they did it like halls then they would have need a short girt to frame into which would have had to cross between the 2 chimney girts and Id expect to see old mortises where it was removed. Or for that matter why would they even bothered to remove it - more likely just patch in the floor there but there is no evidence of that.

OTOH, what is interesting is that the floor joists in that area are rough hand cut, vs the sawn joists elsewhere. maybe the hearth of the kitchen fireplace was supported on the stone base down to the basement floor and they, as you suspect, removed all the stonework and then completely re-framed the floor support? But why bother making such an extensive change and why use older timbers?


On the second chimney:
I'll measure the brick this weekend. The firebox there is very small though and the iron oven doors are cast with movable air louvers - feels more mid-1800s to me. The woodwork is new, we use that cabinet as the stereo cabinet and the inside of the doors is modern. The hinges are reproduction butterfly I put on, there were modern brass cabinet hinges previously, looked out of place. Whoever built it did try for an authentic look though, even rough planing those panels.


Other thoughts-
* The two exposed posts in the ell area line up where the walls of the ell meet the walls of the main house, but they do not line up with the end of the chimney girts in the basement.
* Those two posts are of very rough finish. Rougher than any of the timbers in the original house so maybe it was added when they built the ell and whomever did the work was less skilled than the original builder?
* Also If the ell was original why the difference in foundation stonework?
* Similarly why the difference in roof framing and the newer flooring? (could be a later renovation??)

-Jeremy
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Re: For Greg and others - Dating 18th/19th century Details

Postby Texas_Ranger on Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:39 am

Well, the hewn timbers don't have to be older than the sawn - maybe during addition/renovation work someone thought it might be cheaper to use local trees and hew them himself instead of buying sawn lumber - apparently hewing beams does require some skills but isn't black magic - an old farmer might very well have been able to do that himself with trees he cut down on his own property. Actually I know an American blogger in the Netherlands who never buys any sawn lumber but hews logs he buys locally or trees he cuts down himself!
Another old-timer told me of barn-raising with only hewn beams in 1951!
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

http://whatapigsty.blogspot.com
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