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.