Sunday, December 13, 2015

Jackson, NY: a carpenter used squares as did Biddle, 1 of 6 posts

 July 2022: time to review this: the 3/4/5 rectangle, thus the carpenter square, may be the basic geometry, not the square. And the sequence of the frame, how it was laid out, deserves attention.

Pass by this house. Enjoy how it is sited between its fields on the left that slope down across the flood plain to the river, and the road and the hill to the right.

It seems abandoned  - although someone carefully closed the shutters on a second floor window.

The broken dormer says there once was a wing - or the earlier house.

In the years that I've watched it, I've  thought:
C. 1800,
Dutch framed, H bents.
The new wing an update to the original farm house,
Set into the hill below the wind.

The old house, a story and a half cape set lower on the land, would have had easy access to the farmyard and the fields. It faced south to the sun, watching the traveler approach. The new wing is set higher, more worldly and 'speaks' to the road instead.

But how sad it is... broken chimney, no paint, dumpy windows,

A dilapidated front door

surrounded by fluted columns, complex and flaring capitals, a segmented architrave that curves,
the original transom,

Please click to enlarge the photograph see the lovely curved details of the architrave.

And rotted wood for plinth blocks/bases.

Worth restoring?

It will be.
The frame is well built. Here is the mortise and its peg for the beam which supports one side of the fireplace hearth,

Dismantled, repaired, it will be reassembled on a new site
with its original casings, doors, newel, and mantle.

The shape is simple: 18 ft wide by 36 ft.long. 2 rooms each floor.
2 boxes.
I thought of Owen Biddle's plan for a 'small house'.* That plan used 2 squares divided into 4 parts. Would squares divided in half work here?
Or would I find Asher Benjamin's use of squares divided in thirds?

Owen Biddle's simple division of the square works here.

The plan is 2 squares. The interior wall at the stair is located at the 3/4 mark of the left square.

The windows are placed on the centers of division of the original square . Those on either side of the fireplace are easy to read:half the big square divided into 2 little squares.

The windows beside the front door are centered on rectangles that are 1/4 of the large squares.

The cross section of the house follows the same pattern.

The first floor volume is 2 squares long and half a square high.

The height of the exterior front and rear walls is 3/4 of the square.

The second floor height is 3/8 of the height of the square.

The division of the basic 18' x 18' square into smaller parts is done by diagonals. It is visual. No one needed to write down fractions.

I think the ridge is another 1/4 the height of the square above the ceiling joists.  However since the second floor ceiling is still mostly intact, I could not measure the height to the ridge nor the slope of the roof with enough accuracy to be sure. The interior slope of the ceiling was consistent

The sadly sized windows - replacements when repair of original windows could have saved them - have mismatched clapboard above the lintel which outline the size of the original sash.

Here is my drawing of  the front of the house with its original sash. I do like this house!

The geometry follows that of the floor plan - the square divided into its integral squares and rectangles. The intersections of the diagonals give the dimensions.
The right hand square of the house is drawn. The center line  (A - A dividing the square into 2 equal rectangles) marks the top of the entrance - probably the framed opening, not the casing.
The right window (B) is centered on the small right square which is 1/4 of the large square  or at the 1/4 mark of the right side of the house.

I think about this in 'geometry', but it is hard to show when I can't use my hands. Thus I am adding the  fractions.

 The left window (C) is centered on the half of the small left square, just as in the floor plan or at the 5/8 point.

The size of the window and where it fits in the wall is also determined by the intersections of the diagonals of the square and its parts. Here the right hand square is divided into 2 equal rectangles. I have drawn the lines in green and added emphasis at the intersections.

I measured the height of the front wall from the inside. I did not measure the eave overhang or the frieze. Here I have just laid out the diagonals of the upper half of the square to see what i might find. It looks like it might be right. I will have real dimensions when the house is dismantled. I might be right, or learn something new.

Here is the interior second floor corner where the frame is exposed. The posts which are visible are not regular in size. There is some interesting bracing.  Does the frame also correspond to the rhythm of the square?
I hope to find out.

* See

The link to  the men who took down and repaired this house, Green Mountain Timber Frames: .

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