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Unformatted text preview: American Building Construction: 1607 - ca. 1833 Featured Reference
Carlsen, Spike. 2008. A Splintered History of Wood: Belt Sander Races, Blind Woodworkers, and Baseball Bats. Americans used wood: a lot of wood Why? Wood was readily available Tradition Energy Labor: The Carpenters' Craft Timber Framing at Williamsburg (Colonial Williamsburg Journal) Like shipwrights, carpenters had species preferences for various components of a building White Oak Oak is the "breakfast of civilizations" Spike Carlsen Hardwood Strong & durable (resistant to rot) Used for timber frames in buildings Flooring, clapboards, shingles Remember that it was also used in ship frames White Oak Southern Pine Softwood Strong Used for framing in buildings Also used for flooring and shingles Old-growth southern pine is so dense it is difficult to work and nail Southern Pine Yellow-Poplar Hardwood Lightweight but relatively strong Easy to work Paintable Comparable properties to white pine Note: the name is hyphenated because it is not a "true" poplar, e.g. belonging to the genus Populus Yellow-Poplar White Pine Softwood Lightweight but relatively strong Easy to work The species most sought after by America's early lumber industry Remember the ship masts White Pine Clapboard Siding Anderson Blacksmith Shop, Williamsburg, VA Flooring Unfinished planks Why unfinished? Raleigh Tavern, Williamsburg, VA Shingles were typically made from redcedar, cypress, white oak, or southern pine Pine was a preferred species for carved woodwork, ceilings, paneling, and flooring throughout Colonial America. Labor and Technology Hewing a Timber 2 Man Pit Saw Waterpowered sawmill Developed ca. 1621 Found throughout New England in 1600s Single blade (reciprocal motion) Might be in a "sash" or frame Sawed 5003,000 lineal feet per day compared to 100200 lineal feet with a pit saw Old Sturbridge Village, MA The Timber Frame Photo courtesy of Wes Daubenspeck Traditions: Europe and Asia Post and Beam Connections Photo courtesy of Wes Daubenspeck Mortise & Tenon Stone and Brick Houses: The Problem of the Roof Regional Styles New England Building Ways "...adapted from customs and fashions that had prevailed in eastern England during the period of the great migration." Fischer [pp. 62-68] Use of wood Prior to the 19th century, heavy timber frames of oak Framing details were those practiced by the carpenters of East Anglia Floors were white pine and siding was of weatherresistant cedar clapboards New England Building Ways Tidewater Building Ways: The Great Houses Brick, sometimes wood, structure Symmetrical design Great Hall (cooling) Outbuildings: kitchen, stables, "servants'" quarters Modeled on the manorial estates of southern England Tidewater Building Ways: Hall and Parlor Houses Most houses in the Chesapeake were more modest "hall and parlor" houses. Two story (16 x 20 ft) structures with two rooms downstairs and a corner staircase leading to the upstairs sleeping quarters. Tidewater Building Ways: Hall and Parlor Houses Like New England houses, the smaller houses of the Chesapeake were built mostly with wood. However, the construction details and style were different. Houses were raised on posts or blocks and lacked foundations or cellars. The carpentry was simple in this region where labor costs were high. Slaves and the poorest whites lived in oneroom shacks or shanties constructed of crudely split timbers. [Fischer, pp.267-272] The Quaker Home The preferred building material was "the beautiful gray-brown fieldstone which gave the vernacular architecture of this region its special character and enduring charm" [Fischer, p. 476] The Quaker Home Typically two-story houses More spacious than the houses of New England or among the lower classes in Virginia Greater privacy Interiors were typically "exceptionally bright, clean, austere and spacious.... The houses were furnished sparsely in an almost monastic style...." [Fischer, pp. 479-480] The Backcountry Log Cabin The logs were an American phenomenon The "cabbin" came from the British borderlands Inefficient in the use of wood but made up for it in being labor efficient Cabins could be erected in a day or two by a frontier family with help from a neighbor The "Dogtrot" "It was a simple style of building, suitable to a migratory people with little wealth, few possessions and small confidence in the future. It was also an inconspicuous structure, highly adapted to a violent world where a handsome building was an invitation to disaster.... The cabin was also the product of a world of scarcity. It was a style of vernacular architecture created by deep and grinding poverty through much of north Britain during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century."
David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed [p. 660] It is estimated that 33,092 farm families in New York lived in log cabins in 1855 accounting for 20 percent of all farm families. By 1865, that number had been reduced to 20,245. ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/04/2012 for the course HISTORY 104 taught by Professor Reed during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.
- Spring '11