Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Portico is built!

We have come a long way in this process. As you can see, the portico is built, complete with trim work and wonderful columns. The massive steps are in place. They stretch from pillar to pillar on the front. They are made from thick and heavy wood that has been milled.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Clapboards vs match-boards, and why?

More progress on the Duncan House. The front is taking shape now. The portico is virtually built and is very nice.

I've been particularly interested in the boards used under the portico, especially as compared to the other boards on either side of the portico.  It's easy to see the 'clapboards' that cover most of the house.  They are tear-drop boards....larger at the bottom than at the top, allowing rainwater to run off. 

But we are not using clapboards under the portico. The boards we are instructed to use are tongue and groove boards, AND they are of different widths....some are 4" and some are 6", and they are put up in rather a haphazard manner, without a pattern.  I asked Chelius H. Carter about this whole 'style' and here is what he told me (which, actually, is a rather short explanation for him! :-)

"NOW…Why did we use 'match-boards' between the pilasters and in the front gable and regular clapboard everywhere else?
"It is a 19th century (and earlier) carpentry interpretation of Greek temple construction…this being a house in the 'Greek Revival' form or style. Often the front facades of ancient temples utilized smooth, finished blocks of stone termed “ashlar” to formalize the front entry; the sides would have a rougher cut stone. The clapboard is a carpentry representation of the latter material, while the 'match-board,' which are really simple floorboards laid up vertically, represent the finished or 'ashlar' stonework, formalizing the home’s entry. The gable or in proper temple elements’ terminology, the 'tympanum.' accomplishes the same aesthetic function.

"NOW…Why did we use different sized material in this 'match-board' business? In the mid-19th century and before that for centuries, as long as there have been wooden floors and wood siding, it has ALWAYS been “random width”…the planks came out of the sawmill at varied widths depending on what part of the log the planks came from - those people were interested in getting as much material out of the log as possible and that their clapboards and floorboards varied in width was of no concern…I have images of an 18th century clapboard house in Chestertown, Maryland, that has exterior planks ranging from 4 inches in face dimension to 20 inches. If you were to look at the original flooring of the William Duncan House (under two later floors)…you would find 'random width' flooring, varying from 4 inches face dimension to 7 or 8 inches. As for the face of the portico and its tympanum, it was specified that the boards be a mix of 4 inch and 6 inch, installed at random to give the same effect. So…there it is."

My friends, now you KNOW!!!

Ok, don't get too excited about that beautiful wood.  It's got to be painted!  Yes, that's correct!  The only thing that will be stained will be the doors themselves.  The side lights and transom will be painted.  I've begged, but to no avail.  So, we are trying to do it correctly.

More progress was made today (including a primer on that pretty raw wood) and the steps are being put in place.  The steps are huge, as you can imagine, and stretch from brick pier to brick pier.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

So...What Color Was The Duncan House in 1858?

One of the most interesting phases of this long restoration project is occurring right now. We are in the process of determining what the original paint color(s) of the Duncan House were. I'm sure there are several ways of doing this, but we went the scientific route and sent samples to a PhD in Williamsburg, a professional paint analyst. We sent samples of the house body, the trim and the fascia. You will be surprised, like me, to know that the fascia had NINETEEN coats of paint on it and the trim had 17!!!
Above in the photo is a side cut of the trim sample, multiplied 40 X (some photos were 100 X). You can see many of the 17 coats of paint in the photo.
Some of the results are most interesting, even surprising.
The body of the house was a light grey! (surprising)
The trim was an off white (not surprising)
The fascia was a grey-brown! (surprising)
The results returned from the analyst include the exact paint match for the three. I think you will find that the combination, when the painting is completed, will be very striking!
I had just assumed that it....all....houses of the 1850-60s were white. Not so, say the experts, and The Duncan House fits into that thinking.
Remember, the interior of the house is not being restored nor will it be open for viewing. It will be a private residence. But the exterior, hopefully, will look much like it did 160 years ago.
Thanks for your interest in this project.

Visible Progress being made on The Duncan House

FINALLY visible progress is being made! Now, hopefully you can see how it looked 160 years ago....and why it had the residents it had! You can see part of the tall window on the south side. Much remaining, but "coming along"!

Work beginning on Portico

We are beginning on the portico! About half the decking has been put down. The boards are all milled, tongue and grove, a little more than 1.5 inches thick. Hopefully we can make steady progress tomorrow.

From Historic Preservation Consultant, Chelius Carter

This was posted on my timeline by Chelius Carter, my Historic Preservation Consultant, May 23, 2016. 
Chelius H. Carter added 4 new photos.
One of the things I've been up to: the historic William Duncan House in Corinth, Mississippi
The Duncan House, built in 1858 is one of four known surviving antebellum residences within the National Historic Landmark "Corinth Siege and Battlefield Sites"...it was CSA Gen. Beauregard's headquarters, following the Battle of Shiloh; then USA Gen. Rosecrans' headquarters during the Corinth Siege & Battle there.
My client, Kenneth Williams generously stepped into the breach when this structure was threatened with demolition and elected to personally fund an historic rehabilitation of the house and site (it had moved perpendicularly from its original location in about 1920), and restore the front facade as closely as we could determine to its period of historic significance in 1862.
This involved re-siting the house on the lot AWAY from its fast-encroaching neighbor and more in the center of the lot, as it was on its original site and raising the whole back up on prominent 4'-0 piers. All needing approval through both Mississippi Department of Archives & History and the National Park Service. This has been a complex project...and Kenneth has been a long-suffering and patient client.
What the pictures below show is the existing conditions, when I was first brought in as Historic Preservation Consultant; my restoration design of the front elevation; then its re-siting (thankfully losing that early 20th century porch) and just today...new door, transom & side-lights. This is going to be a wonderful addition to Corinth's historic context and the city anxiously awaits (as does my client) the completion of this fine project!