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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada



Muise House
St. George Street
Annapolis Royal,
Nova Scotia, Canada

By Yvon LeBlanc

Restoration Architect, Fortress of Louisbourg
National Historic Park

April 27, 2005

Parks Canada / Parcs Canada

Louisbourg, N.S.
19 September 1980

Our File:  8440-100

J. How
Head of Interpretation 
Parks Canada
Annapolis Royal, N.S.

Dear Jim:

Here is my cursory report on the Muise House on St. George. Street, which we visited on September 11, 1980.

It was lucky that the internal demolition was interrupted in time to let most of tlie original structure be seen. However, it is a pity that the original roof is gone. Let us hope that the basement when it can be visited, will reveal more significant features.

Here are the main items noted, with tentative significance:

- The very wide, (+/- 18" to 20 +/-) exterior boarding with pronounced bevel (seen from inside) indicated New England origin.

- The clay and straw wall-fill at ground floor, with cross pieces jammed in at ends in slots or holes, is a common form of insulation used in French, English and New England construction.

- Evidence of plaster chinking in bevels at upper floor wall-boarding instead of clay-fill seems to show intention of minimizing load, as against advantage of insulation.

- The straw-like impressions on inner face of clay fill could be the subject of interesting speculation, and more will be learned when remaining lath and plaster are removed. It would seem that the purpose of this straw stuffed in between lath and wet clay was to allow the plaster room to key-in between the lath.

The structural wall members spaced somewhat as seen in Louisbourg buildings, and braced at corners to bottom plate, could just as easily reflect French as New England workmanship. It will be interesting to check dimensions to see if "pouces" or "inches" are indicated.

- No part visible enough to form firm opinion.; However, one small uncovered area at back of building reveals what seems to be joist ends between two plates, which is often seen in French construction.
The rather wide spacing, however, (4'-0 or so) is not typical. Louisbourg practice is less yet. 

 - Top Floor: The also widely spaced attic joists are seen to have been supplemented by additional members (the rafters re-used, probably) to make attic into an occupied top floor.

- The few remains of papered plaster are on lath laid in rather unusual fashion: Diagonal and vertical, as well as the normal horizontal. There is also evidence of expanded split-board lathing - i.e. partly split board Bullock (Restoration Manual, p.59) calls "Accordian, [sic]- split lath, and illustrates with an around 1830 example. More research on this type of lath (seen also in other houses in the Valley) in N. England sources might give more clues on dating.

There is evidence of one (possibly  two) removed along west wall; by the cut in floor and cornice, they were placed corner-wise. While this is exceptional in French Houses, it is quite common in American ones, especially around Williamsburg.

- Small fireplaces in eastern half, on interior wall of original building, are probably part of renovations, (being similar to the ones in the addition) but may rest on location of the original ones.

- More on fireplaces will be learned when basement can be investigated.

- They are all English-type double-hung, and are probably part of extensive 19th-century rebuilding, which relocated many of them, whose original locations are easily discernable.

- The apparently finely detailed ones seen are probably part of renovation, but the one in the original building must reflect original location, which is not typical French practice and is more mindful of a Georgian House, with its central hallway.

All in all this promises to be a most interesting restoration project, especially as there is a photo of the original building to work to. However, a much more detailed investigation is required before its French.
or New England parentage can be established.

To this moment one might venture this opinion, (with the proper grain of salt) that it could turn out to be Acadian built, but for a New England client.

This trip to Annapolis Royal and the Valley was a most agreeable one, thanks to you and Pauline in particular.

Although I cannot become directly involved in this project, due to my commitments in Louisbourg, I an looking forward to being kept in touch with it, and contributing in a general way.

Yours very truly,

Yvon LeBlanc
Restoration Architect
Fortress of Louisbourg
National Historic Park