Background:

What Do You Call It? . . . “Carpenters Marks”

1 Photo May 29, 2 52 41 PM

Last fall, while documenting the attic of an 18th century house in Delaware, I got really excited when I spotted some carpenter’s marks carved on a set of 18th century rafters.   It had been awhile since I had seen any.  After discussing their purpose with my colleagues, I got to wondering just how common-knowledge these “marriage marks” are for other old house lovers.  So I figured, why not write about them, since I think they are cool?   Read more…

Hubka’s “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn” Examines New England’s Historic Connected Farms

New England Connected Farm Barn

In Thomas Hubka’s Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, he studies the phenomenon of the connected farm landscape of northern New England in the 19th century. Published in 1984, Hubka’s work was on the forefront of defining and expanding the field of vernacular studies. In Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, Hubka examines the typology, evolution, and distribution of the connected farm site. The book is organized into three main sections: first, he introduces and defines the building typology; next is an in-depth discussion of the patterns associated with this vernacular type of dwelling (including the buildings, the landscape, and the permanence of the structures); and lastly, Hubka addresses the builder’s influence in the creation of these buildings, and also seeks to understand why people built these connected farm buildings. Read more…

Georgian Estate in Wicomico, VA — “West End” — To Be Auctioned

West End Wocomico

I’ll add this one to my growing wish-list.  ”West End” is a beautifully restored and fully furnished historic estate c.1790, and includes a main residence, guest house and multiple accessory buildings on approximately 32 acres of lush landscape and formal gardens.  According to NYC-based Concierge Auctions, the property will sell at a live auction on April 24th. Originally offered for $3.2 million, this southern estate, located at 677 Crosshills Road, will sell to the highest bidder at or above a $1.8 million reserve in cooperation with Michael Stevens of Coldwell Banker Traditions and Gary Gestson of the Historic Home Team at Long & Foster Real Estate. Read more…

UPDATE: Amazing Italianate in Wellington, Ohio (Best Old House Town- 2010) Offered for Just $94,900

It’s no surprise that “This Old House” chose Wellington, Ohio as one of its “Best Old House Towns” in 2010.  Wellington is a “quaint and quiet northern Ohio town” with a small population of people (4,700), but a large population of beautiful historic houses.  The town features an impressive spectrum of Victorian era houses — including Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Folk Victorian, as well as Shingle Style, Colonial Revival, and Craftsman bungalows.  In fact, the architecture of Wellington’s collection of old houses is “so diverse that many colleges conduct field trips here for their architecture majors.”  

Right now, you can own one of the unique old houses that contributes to Wellington’s unique historical fabric (check out the owner’s blog about Wellington and the house here).  This circa 1888 Italianate home, which is located at 600 North Main Street, is within walking distance of historic downtown Wellington and was part of the town’s historic home tour in 2012.  The yellow Italianate house features a symmetrical facade, with a center sidewalk that leads to an impressive one-story porch with fancy scroll work and brackets, all of which project from an almost turret-like tower that projects well above the roof line. Under the porch, steps rise to arched, double-entrance doors.  The house has obviously been renovated to offer the best of both worlds — historic ambiance and texture, with modern style and convenience.  The photos reveal not only a sharp historic exterior, but also an even more impressive interior, where every room looks to have been smartly renovated and visually appealing.  And at the new price of just $94,900 (!), it seems like a tremendous value. (More listing information below.) Read more…

Book Review: Abbott Lowell Cummings’ “Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725″

Published in 1979, The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725 was a giant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture, and it remains a foundational reference work for scholars of colonial architecture in Massachusetts and beyond. Focusing on the “first period” of settlement, from roughly 1620-1720, Cummings’ excellent work is an encyclopedic and systematic evaluation of Massachusetts Bay’s seventeenth-century houses, especially in Suffolk, Essex, and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts.  Well-written, painstakingly researched, crisply-organized, and full of excellent line drawings and photographs, Cummings work is a must-have for the preservationist’s library. Read more…

“Bleak Hill” Estate to be Auctioned in King George, VA

In less than a month, the impressive “Bleak Hill” Estate, in King George, Virginia, will be auctioned.  Original portions of the house were built in the 1790s by historically renowned architect, Dr. William Thornton — the designer of the U.S. Capitol building.  The estate offers an incredible panoramic view, so it’s not surprising that it’s reported to have been used as a Union Army headquarters during the Civil War.  What is a little ironic, however, is that the house is said to be the architectural “sister” of the historic “Sully Plantation,” which was built by the uncle of Robert E. Lee — the legendary Confederate general. Read more…

“Lottery Hill Farm,” Michael J. Fox’s former Federal-Style House in Woodstock, VT, Now Offered for Sale

If you’ve never been to Woodstock, Vermont, it’s one of those beautiful New England villages that is a big tourist spot because it is widely-heralded as “quintessential” New England.   It has an old town green with lots of classical-revival houses surrounding it.  There are ordinances to protect nice views of the village and its surroundings.  The Rockefellers helped preserve the town in the early 20th-century, and further enhanced its growing reputation as a place for well-to-do people to own 2nd homes.  Even the Budweiser Clydesdales Read more…

“The Henry Munroe House” in Wesport, CT, Dodges Demolition — But Still Needs Buyer

This house is significant enough that it’s listed on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, which designates “sites that embody the struggle toward freedom and human dignity” and “celebrates the accomplishments of the state’s African American community.”  So why is this particular property worthy of recognition?  The designation honors Henry and Lyzette Munroe, a black farmer & his wife who built the house in 1806 — during a time when race slavery still existed in Connecticut.  And that’s not a typo.  Many people don’t realize that slavery existed in northern states (though on a much smaller scale than the South) well into the 1800s — and the census of 1800 still counted 951 slaves in Connecticut.  Thus, the Munroes were bravely making their way in a world where the odds were stacked against them, building this house and creating a family farm some 55 years before the U.S. Civil War ended American slavery. Read more…

Historic Style Spotlight: The Craftsman Bungalow

When it comes to admiring old houses, I tend to favor rustic, 200-year old post & beam structures.  Yet some of my favorite historic houses are much more modern:  Craftsman-style bungalows.  This article will highlight the history & characteristics of this beautiful architectural style. Read more…

My Alma Mater, Bowling Green State University, Will Soon Raze This Historic “Sears” House

Really, BGSU?

The school where I earned my B.A. in History is about to needlessly knock down a very cool building that is historically significant.   Their stated purpose is to build a new student health center.  I understand that  universities need to expand, but I also believe there would be several reasonable alternatives to razing a one-of-a-kind historic building.  It bums me out enough when individuals knock down historic buildings, but when a (supposedly) enlightened institution like a college fails to demonstrate vision & wisdom, it’s kinda depressing.   And so far, the university has been unswayed by the uproar and protests to save the building.  And now, demolition is scheduled for August 7th! Read more…