ERIC KRAUSE

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Exterior Shutter Research
Fortress of Louisbourg N.H.S.

Isle Royale
(Cape Breton Island)
and
Isle St. Jean
(Prince Edward Island)
1713 - 1758

 By

Eric Krause

(Krause House Info-Research Solutions)

November 24, 1998

(Report Number 98193)


Volume One

The Interpretation

Table of Contents

PREFACE

TERMINOLOGY (SELECT)

(I) INCIDENCE OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS

(II) STYLES OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS

(III) DETAILING OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS

(A) BATTEN SHUTTER DESCRIPTIONS

(B) EMBOÎTURE SHUTTER DESCRIPTIONS

(C) GENERAL DESCRIPTIONS

(IV) SITUATION IN 1745

(V) FURTHER RESEARCH

Preface

The purpose of this report is to provide research concerning the incidence, styles and detailing of exterior shutters on buildings at the Fortress of Louisbourg, as well as on Isle Royale (Cape Breton Island) and on Isle St. Jean (Prince Edward Island), in the period of 1713-1758, with a specific emphasis on the period of the first French occupation of Louisbourg, ending in 1745. Based solely upon a compilation of contemporary historical documents of local origin, it examined neither the secondary nor manuscript sources of other places, or the modern archaeological findings of Louisbourg. Thus with this scope in mind, the report should be read, discussed at meetings of structural design, and placed in context with other available shutter findings (e.g. published, archaeological, technical, etc.)

The report consists of three parts: The Interpretation, The Chronology, and The Appendix.

The Interpretation makes two assessments: Firstly, it evaluates the probable incidence in 18th-century Louisbourg of board and batten, à cadre (horizontal and connecting vertical battens applied to a layer of vertical boards) and emboîture shutter types in exterior shutters on both private and public buildings; and secondly, it examines the period documents, to extract information on exterior shutters and their detailing that goes beyond that represented in the 1972 Preliminary Report on Outside Shutters (Original report: Christian Pouyez, Rapport préliminaire sur les contrevents, 1972, in Preliminary Architectural Studies, Volume 2 (Fortress of Louisbourg unpublished report, 1971-1972.) Consequently, this report will not restate Pouyez conclusions where immaterial to the present assessment.

The Chronology is a compilation of all known French references to exterior shutters at Louisbourg during the period 1713 to 1758. Where shutter hardware is directly ascribed, or reasonably inferred, it is included; otherwise, it remains with that body of evidence requiring further interpretation (see DB/TextWorks below).

The Appendix is a reference compilation which includes (I) the basis for interpreting the incidence of exterior shutters at Louisbourg; (II) a summary of actual shutter prices (not proposed, and which included descriptive accounts); (III) an interpretation of the styles, detailing and incidence of exterior shutters; and, finally, (IV) an improvement of the 1972 English translation of the original French shutter report reproduced here to facilitate access.

Finally, the consultant has updated the DB/TextWorks Historical Technical Memos database (htmemos.tba available on public network drive K) by adding to it not only shutter, but also door and related hardware details. The deposit of this material may aid in the interpretation of matters beyond the subject of this report.

Terminology (Select)

Barre

For the purposes of this study, in French, the horizontal or diagonal (called écharpe) batten (i.e. nailer) of a board (set vertically) and batten shutter. In French, bar (as in contrevents barrés de trois barres or avec barres et écharpes.

Battant [batten, battan, batant]

In French, leaf (expressed or suggested), as of a single or two-leaf shutter (e.g. contrevent à deux battant or deux Doubles Contrevents et un Simple.)

Battens

For the purposes of this study, in English, the horizontal or diagonal battens (i.e. nailers) of a board (set vertically) and batten shutter.

Écharpe

See Barre.

Charpente or Colombage

See 1/2 Timber.

Emboîture

For the purposes of this study, the horizontal boards assembled, top and bottom, perpendicularly to the vertical boards of an emboîture shutter.

Measurements

12 Lignes = 1 Pouce

12 Pouces = 1 Pied

6 Pieds = 1 Toise

---------------------------------------

1 Ligne = .0888 Inches

1 Pouce = 1.0656 Inches

1 Pied = 1.066 Feet

1 Toise = 6.396 Feet

Merisier

For the purposes of this study, a tree as described at Louisbourg as a type of birch (Espece de bouleau), and, possibly, as described in Acadia by the Baron de La Hontant as being Aa hard and whitish wood, with a grey bark. Some of them are as tall as the loftiest oaks, and as big as a hogshead. This tree grows straight; it has an oval leaf, and is made use of in beams, rafters, and other carpenter's work.

1/2 Timber

On Isle Royale and Isle St. Jean, a heavy wood-framed building type commonly described as charpente or, occasionally, as colombage, set upon a separate foundation.

Piquet

An earth-fast building type whose perimeter walls consisted of vertical logs.

Prices

12 Deniers = 1 Sol

20 Sols = 1 Livre

Private Sector

For the purposes of this report, that construction sector funded by private individuals, and commonly called today domestic or vernacular.

Public Sector

For the purposes of this report, that construction sector funded by the King (Royal), commonly called today government or public works.

SHUTTER

Contrevent or Volet? See Volume 3, The Appendix, Christian Pouyez, A Preliminary Report on Outside Shutters.


(I)

Incidence of Exterior Shutters

The record is clear: Exterior shutters were commonly found on the site of eighteenth-century Louisbourg. They appeared on all building types.


(II)

Styles of Exterior Shutters

Only two broad categories of exterior shutters appeared in the record: Emboîture and board and batten. Of the buildings carrying shutters of an unspecified nature, presumably then all were either of one or of the other of these two styles.

In the public sector, the many descriptions of how to assemble an emboîture shutter remained constant over the years, though materials did vary. In contrast, an official specification for the construct of a board and batten shutter appeared only once, in a written 1753 document. Here, was described a premier batten shutter, perhaps not unlike that which surfaced, as early as 1718, in this same sector.

Thus in the royal sector, the contracting system was to produce standard shutter specifications against which general construction was to proceed. Thus the chance for alternate styles, to those of batten and emboîture, to arise was minimal. Arguably, while the board and batten shutters on this sector's provisional piquet buildings of the post 1749 period were not up to the same standard as those of 1753, most certainly, in assembly, they were not unconventional.

Although private sector construction descriptions were short on detail, not surprisingly, they confirmed that both the emboîture and board and batten styles were present. So too, once in this sector, did there arise a shutter standard, though interestingly, the hired-builder was no less than the fortification contractor, and the building was of masonry.

Notwithstanding that the private and public sectors mirrored the same style types, logic would dictate that as did public works use a lower quality board and batten shutter on a provisional building, so too would vernacular construction, with its greater variety of piquet and 1/2 timber constructions, and numbers of builders, have produced alternate choices in the actual detailing of batten and emboîture shutters.


(III)

Detailing of Exterior Shutters

As the historical record advanced from 1713 to 1758, at a certain point the shutter descriptions that came before seemed to coalesce into one standard, be it board and batten or emboîture. Then later, more descriptions, and another convergence, and so on, thus forming up through time an array of possible shutter constructs. Unfortunately, each of these possibilities was neither enough like the others as to form-up into a comprehensive batten or emboîture standard, or sufficiently different as to suggest the existence of many standards. In other words, were these descriptions simply variations of the same theme within the context of two shutter styles, or did they represent many themes swirling around the said two shutter choices?

For these reasons, and because certain time periods were better populated than others with descriptions, cautious, if not futile, would be the approach in determining which board and batten, or which emboîture, description was the more popular.

(A) Batten Shutter Descriptions

(1) A batten shutter may be constructed of 1-pouce thick vertical fir boards, tongued and grooved, planed both sides, with 2 or 3 battens. It will be held open either by 1 turnbuckle or else by 1 hook and eye; and held closed by 1 hook and 1 eye.

A batten shutter, at times, may use 2-pouce pine planks in its construction.

Given that, on occasion, there exists batten doors planed only one side, did like-finished shutters also exist on that same building?

(2) A provisional batten shutter, with some battens, may be fashioned using wood and nails. Mounted on 1 pair of strap hinges with its pintles, there will be 1 hook and 1 eye per shutter.

(3) A provisional batten shutter, of part tongued and grooved planed 2-pouce thick planks, of part tongued and grooved planed 1-pouce thick boards, with its battens may be fashioned using wood and nails. Mounted on 1 pair of strap hinges with its pintles, there will be 1 hook and 1 eye per shutter.

(4) For repair purposes, a batten shutter with some battens may be fashioned from 1-pouce thick boards rescued from salvaged materials.

(5) A custom fitted batten shutter will be constructed of planed two-sided, tongued and grooved pine boards, 1-pouce thick, with horizontal and diagonal oak battens, with the wood cut during the good season, without wane, square cut, and fashioned and assembled by good workers.

(B) Emboîture Shutter Descriptions

(1) An emboîture shutter may be constructed of appropriately finished 1-pouce thick vertical fir or pine boards, assembled, at each end, with well-pegged oak emboîtures, 5-6 pouces wide, placed horizontally. Mounted on a pair of 1-1/2 pieds long strap hinges with their pintles, it will be held open either by 1 turnbuckle or else by 1 hook and eye; and held closed by 1 hook and 1 eye.

Perhaps only for private sector constructions, when the vertical boards of the shutters are of fir, the emboîtures may be of fir. Likewise, when the vertical boards of the shutters are of pine, the emboîtures may be of pine.

(2) An emboîture shutter may be constructed of vertical pine boards, a full 1-pouce thick (even 1-1/4 pouces was an option), finished off at each end with horizontal wood-pegged oak or merisier [type of birch] emboîtures, everything well-planed, assembled tongued and grooved, using only dry and sound wood. Mounted on a pair of strap hinges with their pintles, it will be held open either by 1 turnbuckle or else by 1 hook and eye/keeper; and held closed by 1 hook and 1 eye/keeper. 1-1/2 pieds long strap hinges, 1-pieds long hooks, and wooden pegs and stoppers are all appropriate.

Given that at this time, on occasion, 1-pouce thick interior doors, of pine verticals and pine emboîtures, are being assembled, did like shutters also exist on that same building?

(3) A custom fitted emboîture shutter will be constructed of planed two sides, tongued and grooved pine boards, 1-pouce thick, fitted tongued and grooved style with oak emboîtures at both ends, with the wood cut during the good season, without wane, square cut, and fashioned and assembled by good workers.

(C) General Descriptions

(1) While shutter hooks utilized eyes (pitons) and keepers (tenons) as fasteners, staples (crampons) are a possible, if not infrequent, option.

(2) Once a month, ironwork will be repaired/replaced as required and oiled. Twice a year, in April and October, both the shutters and the ironwork will be inspected, to ensure that proper maintenance has occurred.

(3) Woodwork and ironwork will be painted as required. A mitigating factor before the first siege will be a paint shortage.

(4) A shutter may be mounted to the fixed frame, with 1 hook and 1 eye for closing. Couplet hinges are an option. [Inside shutters may also be mounted on the fixed frame.]

(5) A large boutique shutter may consist of 1 pair of strap hinges and their pintles, an iron pulley for opening and closing the shutter, and 3 hooks and 3 eyes for securing it closed.

(6) Shutters constructed from local 1-pouce thick fir and pine boards, (or sometimes from 2-pouce thick pine planks), originally 10-12 pouces wide, is an option.

(7) A shutter constructed from 1-pouce thick boards imported from Boston rather than obtained locally is an option from at least the 1720's onwards. These boards are, according to French standards, extremely wide, rarely being less than 15 pouces.

(8) A perception that oak and fir did not work well together may prove true over time.


(IV)

Situation in 1745

While any of the detailing possibilities discussed in Section III above are possible, decision makers ought to keep in mind the following shutter guidelines:

(1) In the Public Sector, the system preferred emboîture shutters, while opting for board and batten on occasion; in the Private Sector, builders and owners were free to chose either emboîture or board and batten as they wished or could afford.

(2) In both the Public and Private Sectors, shutter materials and size varied; in the Private Sector, assembly and finishing-off variations, particularly cost saving ones, were always a possibility.

(3) The only materials shortage at this time was paint, suggesting its conservative use.


(V)

Further Research

(1) A similar report concerning the incidence, styles and detailing of exterior shutters in the North American colonies of the period 1713-1758, combined with a separate shutter inventory based on published 18th-century French secondary sources as well as on modern local archaeological findings, would no doubt shed additional light on the Louisbourg experience.

(2) Where the consultant encountered shutter details and potential leads that were beyond the scope of this current report, he updated the DB/TextWorks database (htmemos.tba - Historical Technical Notes: Research Notes on 18th-Century Construction Techniques).

(3) The consultant will also post this report to the Louisbourg Institute website (Web fortress.uccb.ns.ca) where its webmaster will encourage outside opinion and further research leads.


Note: Only Volume One of the four volume work described below has been reproduced here above.

VOLUME ONE: THE INTERPRETATION   

~ PREFACE 

~TERMINOLOGY (SELECT) 

~ (I) INCIDENCE OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS 

~ (II) STYLES OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS 

~ (III) DETAILING OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS  

(A) BATTEN SHUTTER DESCRIPTIONS  

(B) EMBOÎTURE SHUTTER DESCRIPTIONS  

(C) GENERAL DESCRIPTIONS 

~ (IV) SITUATION IN 1745

 ~ (V) FURTHER RESEARCH

VOLUME TWO: THE CHRONOLOGY 

~ TERMINOLOGY (SELECT) 

~ (I) FRENCH TRANSCRIPTIONS (1713-1758)

VOLUME THREE: THE APPENDIX 

~ TERMINOLOGY (SELECT)

 ~ (I) INCIDENCE OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS: INTERPRETATION BY BUILDING TYPE (ALL INCLUSIVE) 

(A) 1/2 TIMBER BUILDINGS 

(B) PIQUET BUILDINGS 

(C) MASONRY BUILDINGS 

(D) 1/2 TIMBER/MASONRY COMBINATION BUILDINGS (E) PALISADED REDOUBT BUILDINGS 

(F) UNSPECIFIED BUILDING TYPES 

~ (II) SUMMARY OF ACTUAL EXTERIOR SHUTTER PRICES (DOES NOT INCLUDE PROPOSED PRICES OR ACCOUNTS WITHOUT DESCRIPTIVE DETAILS) 

(A) BY DATE 0(B) BY PRICE (C) BY SUBJECT 

(1) SHUTTERS (WITH OR WITHOUT HARDWARE) 

(2) HARDWARE 

(3) ASSOCIATED SHUTTER 

~ MATERIALS 

~ (III) STYLES AND DETAILING OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS: INTERPRETATION (BASED ON THE SUMMARY OF ACTUAL PRICES WHICH DOES NOT INCLUDE PROPOSED PRICES OR ACCOUNTS WITHOUT DESCRIPTIVE DETAILS) 

(A) BY ITEM / SET 

(B) BY SQUARE TOISE 

~ (IV) INCIDENCE OF EXTERIOR SHUTTERS: INTERPRETATION BY SHUTTER TYPE (ALL INCLUSIVE) 

(A) BY SHUTTER TYPE AND BUILDING SECTOR 

(1) EMBOÎTURE SHUTTER TYPE 

(2) BATTEN SHUTTER TYPE 

(3) UNSPECIFIED SHUTTER TYPE 

(4) WITHOUT SHUTTERS 

(B) BY BUILDING SECTOR AND SHUTTER TYPE 

(1) PUBLIC CONSTRUCTIONS 

(2) PRIVATE CONSTRUCTIONS 

~ (V) REVISED REPORT - ENGLISH VERSION 

(A) CHRISTIAN POUYEZ, "PRELIMINARY REPORT ON OUTSIDE SHUTTERS" IN HISTORIANS, PRELIMINARY ARCHITECTURAL STUDIES, VOLUME 02, UNPUBLISHED REPORT H G 02 (FORTRESS OF LOUISBOURG, 1972) 

(1) DEFINITION AND LOCATION 

(2) SIZE (3) MATERIALS 

(4) METHOD OF MANUFACTURE AND TYPES OF OUTSIDE SHUTTER 

(5) HARDWARE 

(6) PRICE 

(7) INSIDE SHUTTERS