Friday, May 23, 2008

Hall Chamber in Detail

The hall chamber is quite an interesting room in the sense that it exhibits a number of constructions from several different periods in the history of the house. Here are some photos and commentary.

Above: The southwest corner of the hall chamber with the exterior post and tie-beam of bent #4, and 9/6 windows at the front of the house.

Above left: 12/8 window on south side. Above right: The door leading out to the second floor landing and the post-and-beam assembly of bent #3 just above the door. Doors such as this one were used in earlier times (and are still used today) to prevent cold drafts from coming into heated rooms. This particular door is quite old (perhaps late nineteenth century), but relatively modern compared to other doors in the house.

Above left: Door and interior partition wall. The original chimney was located just on the other side of this partition, and a fireplace was once situated mostly to the left of (and including) the modern register. A vague outline of the fireplace is visible in the plaster (though not necessarily visible in this particular photograph), as well as a plastered-over stove pipe hole. Above right: Doorway to the hall chamber closet area, and a view of the southeast chamber just beyond, with light streaming in from the setting sun. The relative differences in the sizes of the original floor planks of the southeast chamber and those of the hall chamber are apparent in this photo.

Above left: Another view of the hall chamber and closet area entrance, with the spinning room just beyond. Above right: The floor of the hall chamber is very old, but of a more recent vintage than the original (seventeenth century) floor. It is comprised of milled, tongue-and-groove planks 5" in width and twelve feet in length (only a few planks are less than twelve feet long). The floor is consistently higher than both the adjacent southeast chamber and landing floors, suggesting that the original floor planks are just underneath. My guess is that this is an overlay floor that was added to level the surface and thereby make the room more comfortable.

Above left: A close-up view of the hall chamber floor reveals a well-worn surface and a significant historical record. One wonders whether these planks were newly cut when first layed-down, or if they had been taken from somewhere else. When I first bought the house, I thought this floor might be a good candidate for fine finishing, but not now -- it will be preserved in its current state, just like the seventeenth century planks in the other rooms. Above right: The junction of the hall chamber and landing floors. Tongue-and-groove millwork is plainly visible, as well as the relative elevation of the hall chamber floor. The landing floor appears to be of the same construction and vintage as that of the hall chamber, but there is no sub-floor beneath it.

Above: Two 2.5" square-cut nails extracted from the hall chamber floor are shown on the left side of the photo. They are clearly machine-made, as they are tapered on only two opposing sides, and exhibit small striations on the tapered edges. Their heads also appear to be machine-cut, or perhaps hammer-shaped. On the right of the photo are three modern square nails: A concrete nail, a (not quite, but almost) rose-head nail, and a headless brad.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Today in History: New England's Dark Day

Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon, a horror of great darkness, like the night...
- Whittier

On that day, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light
- Isaiah 13:10

Two hundred and twenty eight years ago today (May 19, 1780), New Englanders experienced a near-total darkness at noontime that lasted until the next day's evening. Many thought the biblical end of the world was upon them. Recently, scientists discovered evidence of a massive forest fire in eastern Canada at the time, whose intense smoke, traveling southwestwardly, was responsible for blotting out the sun. Wired magazine today published an article about this terrifying event, and its rational explanation.

Abraham Davenport confers with Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, in the mural "Dark Day" by Stamford artist Delos Palmer (photo by Steve Castagneto). From a Stamford Historical Society article.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Container Herb Garden

This weekend, I planted a small herb garden in the same wooden containers I had used for holly plants this past winter.

The inherent utilitity in not having certain things in fixed locations is something that I am only now starting to truly appreciate (I call such objects "floaters"). For example, the herb containers can easily be moved for maximum exposure to sunlight or rainfall, or brought onto the porch in severe weather or when there's a frost threat. Inside the house, I have a few pieces of light furniture (i.e., a quilt rack and some windsor chairs) that likewise have no particular place. They tend to just drift about and land wherever they might be needed at any given time.