Monday, March 3, 2014

Why was the wall moved?

When the Thales Yeaton House was converted to create twentieth century apartments, two bathrooms were installed in back of the first floor.  While Dan completed the necessary demo of the flooring in the area of these rooms, it became clear that the wall separating the two spaces was moved at some point.  The floorboards have been cut where the wall was pushed back, seemingly to make room for two bathrooms. The bathroom adjacent to the original c. 1795 kitchen was once a much smaller pantry, where the marks of shelving remain visible.  The other twentieth century bathroom is believed to have been part of Lydia Amazeen's dower portion.  (Her husband had purchased the house in 1814 and when he died she was given life rights to a third of the house, a fairly common circumstance.)The room would have been bigger, and a more reasonable living space she could have used as sleeping quarters.  

John stands on the sub-floor right before the cut off floor boards, where the original wall stood.  It was pushed back to make the back portion of the house into two bathrooms. This space was built as storage space, or a pantry, adjacent to the original kitchen.
The baseboard running along the back of the two rooms is the same until a protruding stud,
where the original wall once began.  
The crown moulding was cut from the original wall when it was moved and put back in place in the new location, in the larger of the two spaces.  
The dentils of the crown don't meet up revealing a change in the original workmanship.
The adjustment in wall placement is a small detail in the evolution of the house, but shows how it was modified with the changing needs of its residents. 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rotten. Spoiled and Rotten.

It's not surprising to come across rotten wood in a timber framed building the age of the Yeaton House. In fact, it's to be expected.  The level of decay in the floor where the two first floor bathrooms were installed, however, is catastrophic!  It was clear there is a moisture issue from the softness, sometimes described as punchy, of the floor boards.  After Dan started to lift floor boards, it became clear he had a big project on his hands. 

Dan in the basement, peaking up through the open cavity in the floor.

The beam between the two back bathrooms and the parlor is completely rotten and will be replaced in-kind.  
The extent of the rot makes saving the beam impossible.

The top floor and sub floor were both removed to get to the beam.  You can see right down into the basement.
 To start the process, Dan lifted up all of the floor boards on either side of the wall and removed the dado.  Incidentally, he discovered that the back wall is free-standing and not tied into the frame.  The wall is supported by a beam keeping the wall together, then held in place with a wedge and two supporting poles.  Dan can then remove the rotten beam, and replace it with a new one.

A supporting wedge holds the wall in place while Dan works.

The dado was removed for the duration of the project so it is safe and out of the way.  It will be put back when the beam and flooring is replaced. 

The dado will stay safe on the other side of the room while the work is done.
 We'll post pictures of the new beam and floor when they arrive!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Under the Floor Boards

As work continues on the Yeaton House, we learn more about how the house looked when it was built.  Today, as John was lifting up floorboards to see about running the electrical, he discovered that the floor boards and joist were once visible from the first floor.  When Thales Yeaton built his home around 1795, he built a shop space on the first floor.  It's this space that is under the exposed floor/ceiling system.  
Preservation carpenter John Schnitzler lifts floor boards up to examine the space below.

John discovered that the finish boards were ship-lapped and planed smooth, as were the joist.  The builder planned to have the wood exposed.   
To the right of the board is the planed edge that would fit into a corresponding mate.  The surface has been planed smooth.  This upper chamber's sub-floor is the room below's ceiling.

The interior of the floor cavity shows that same planed surface on the joist.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thank you LCHIP!

We are pleased to be a recipient of LCHIP funds for the Heritage House Program - again!  

Yesterday, January 6, Larry Yerdon and Elizabeth Farish joined fellow preservationists and land conservation organizations for the announcement of this cycle's awards.  Thirty-nine resources were honored, including rehabilitation of the c. 1810 Lowd House.  LCHIP awarded $25,882 in matching funds for the completion of a first floor office space.

See more information, including a list of this cycles recipient's here

Lowd House  was the home of Portsmouth cooper Peter Lowd. Reflecting typical characteristics of the Federal Period, the house incorporates an ell that dates before the Revolution and was joined to the structure when it was built in 1810. The exterior and interior are simple but possess  architectural details such as unusual cornice mouldings and delicate fanlight and pilasters that exhibit fine examples of the Federal style. The size and style of the building was in keeping with residences of middle class artisans such as a cooper.
Lowd House, in the foreground, currently has two studio apartments and a first floor exhibit on tools, like those used by cooper, Peter Lowd

 The house currently houses an exhibition on tools and traditional woodworking craft on the first floor.  The second floor was rehabilitated for two small apartments in 2012.  The proposed preservation project will complete the second phase of the rehabilitation of Lowd House, creating a first floor office that will produce rental income.

This first floor parlor space will become office space for some lucky renter

Strawbery Banke is currently utilizing funds awarded by LCHIP for the rehabilitation of the Thales Yeaton House.  The program has been instrumental in our moving forward with these exciting preservation projects.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Layers of Yeaton House

First built as a single family home, the Yeaton House was continually transformed to meet the changing needs of the neighborhood – as it is changing once again to meet current needs.  In 1795, when Thales Yeaton built his house, the Puddle Dock neighborhood was prosperous and he even built a shop front on the first floor.  Like much of the east coast, Portsmouth suffered from the effects of the War of 1812 and resulting embargoes.  Yeaton House was transformed into a duplex, then a three family home and finally, when the neighborhood was mired in the realities of a stagnant economy, a four family tenement.  

The most significant decorative physical reminder of these changes are various wallpapers in the house.

A small first floor room which had been converted into a bathroom retains this bold fuschia lily pad paper.
A room on the back southwest corner was converted to a bathroom in the twentieth century
The stylistic denticulated crown moulding was painted a coordinating color to the bright paper.  The fuchsia flowers retain their vibrancy but the green of the lily pads has faded.

In the north east parlor chamber, a c. 1820's block printed paper can be seen under multiple layers of later papers.
You can just make out the horizontal seam of the block printed paper, where the green color is darker.

The walls of the second floor kitchen retain pieces of a wonderful Colonial Revival paper, boasting a repeating pattern of Windsor chairs, coffee grinders, tall ships, fireplace tools, cookstoves, banjo clocks and other idealistic images of the colonial past.
The second floor kitchen, located directly above the original kitchen, also retains a sink and evidence of a hot water heater on the left side of the fire box.  The entry door was at one point the entrance to the apartment,, accessed by the rear stair hall.
Remains of the thin paper are cracked, revealing a mint green paint underneath. 

The removal of the medicine cabinet in the second floor bathroom revealed a different kind of wall decoration.
This bubble girl and her accompanying dancers were hidden by a wall hung cabinet
There are dozens of layers of wallpapers throughout the large home, revealing changing trends and personal tastes of the buildings many residents. Examples of each paper have been carefully removed from the wall and will be stored in the Carter Collections Center as examples of their time.