Friday, February 15, 2013

Locke Tavern geometry, part 2 of 4

The geometry of the Locke Tavern is based on the square, but it is interesting to see how the circle that fits around the square was used.

On the front facade, I have labeled the circles 'c' . The length of half the diagonal is the radius of the circle. The edge of the circle determines the space between the two squares, how the squares relate to each other. It is also where the front door is.
The men who updated the house in the 1790's clearly recognized the original pattern: they worked with it, using the square's diagonal to determine the size of their additions.

This is not design based on the 6 part geometry of the Daisy Wheel. The layout may have begun with a circle, but its use seems subservient to the square.
We know that house-wrights brought their knowledge with them from not just the 'old country' but specifically from their old neighborhood. And they passed their way of building on to their apprentices. Differences based on the origin of the colonists are visible in timber framing, barn and house layout. They are also visible in little things, like the shape of trunnels - the wood pegs that hold mortise and tendons together. Is this another regional variation?

On the floor plan the arc of the square -marked 'c' - of the smaller room to the left includes the chimney stack.

So, is that fireplace part of the 1740 house?
The room needed heat. But in cold New England fireplaces were never built outside the frame, even in half houses, where the second part came later.
Was there a little entry to the left, since enlarged?

I doubt this room was part of an earlier house (that the front is a newer wing) as it lacks southern orientation.

All this, of course, makes me wish I knew more about the construction of that part of the house and its foundation.
Ah, the joy of being present when things are taken apart!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Locke Tavern geometry, part 1 of 4

Here is the Locke Tavern, Andover, MA.
It is thought to have been built about 1740, maybe before 1700, expanded about 1790. George Washington stopped for breakfast here on his Farewell Tour.

For more history:

The measured drawing is the first floor plan of the original 1740 house: 3 main rooms with a center chimney, and a rear lean-to. I show here the way I believe the 1740 house was laid out: in three squares - drawn in red. It is a very straight forward design.
The room shown by the blue squares - shown by their diagonals and marked 'b' - may have had a salt box roof on that side with a third fireplace leaning against the main stack. It has no basement. Many similar houses have basements only under their front section. Back sheds like this regularly morphed into living spaces.

The house reflects what I see here. The moldings and framing, the low ceiling, central chimney, front stair, the tight space between the roof and the second floor windows, are typical of 1740 construction north of Boston. The small rear space has been upgraded many times. As the house is repaired more information may be uncovered. If so I will add it here.

The basement follows the original footprint. The stone work under the wing - the smaller square to the left - is part of the original house. The only concern for me is that the fireplace in that room and its chimney are outside the shape. Why?

The  elevations show the same pattern - squares for the 1740 layout - the diagonals marked 'a'. The squares leave space  for the front door. I thought a square with sides the same length as in the floor plan might be used for the height, but that length doesn't work.
How was the size for the new 1790 front entry determined? The diagonal of the square was extended on both squares. The space between them gave the width of the entry. For clarity I have drawn only one (marked in blue with 'b'). The dimensions across the base, marked 'a-a' and 'b-b', are the Golden Section. I find myself delighted to see that the additions were proportional to the original design.

The 1790 improvements included changing the roof  to a hip from a gable. The chimney stayed where it was, of course. The ridge which needs to be in the center of the roof  moved from in front of the chimney stack to behind it.
The front entrance and side entrances with  classic columns and pediments, the rear rooms (second floor) were added.  Larger windows replaced the originals - inside they feel almost too big for the rooms.

Here on the side elevation the squares - in red - and the diagonal - 'b' in blue, left - determine the size of  the entry and back closets, maybe the fireplace as well. I have drawn in an arc - 'b', right - determined by the center of the square which includes the depth of the front entry. For me this dimension is problematic: I've not encountered its use on other houses.

The rear wing - not shown - is one part later addition, one part building moved to the site. The proportions aren't the same. It has also been greatly remodeled which is common with many houses built before central heating and plumbing.

Eagle Square Manufacturing Co. - a history

 The University of Vermont holds in its collection the records for the Eagle Square Company of Shaftsbury, VT.  It is now digitized and available to researchers.

Its first paragraph clearly states that Silas Hawes was not the inventor of carpenter squares. Good. We need to lay that myth to rest.

When I became curious about what tools were used for the layout of buildings in the British Colonies and the early United States, information about them seemed non-existent.  It was hard even to find what library might be a place for me to go to research, if I had been free to go traveling for a week. I found a few cabinet maker's tool boxes: the Bennington Museum owns one. But it was not easy to find lists of  tools a master carpenter would have owned. It still isn't.

Information about the history of carpenter squares was part of what I wanted to know about. I still do. They were widely manufactured here, and  40 early squares are stored in the vaults of the Bennington Museum. But there is no repository of information about their use or popularity, just local stories like the one that says Hawes invented the squares.

So I am posting what resources I find here.

7/6/17: update. I have been reading Joseph Moxon's 1683 book which includes descriptions of tools and how to use them, carpenter squares among them. For more information read:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Scribe Rule to Square Rule and Carpenter Squares

Here is a post on Will Traux's blog about the rapid transition from the use of Scribe to Square Rule in Timber Framing. (He explains what those different rules mean.) The comments are an important part of the discussion.

I have also seen  the rapid change from one system to the other starting around 1820.

I thought this could partially explain why accurate carpenter squares became so popular after 1820, why so many mills sprung up along Paran Creek in North Bennington and Shaftsbury, Vermont, to manufacture the squares, why after being wiped out by the disastrous flood in 1852, the factories were quickly rebuilt.

The comments to the original post discuss the need for standardized dimensions when using the Square Rule system. I think they make a good argument that standard measurements were not essential.

So I haven't a answer, yet.