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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
by Susann Myers,
----- From: Steve
O'Shaughnessy [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Friday, April
01, 2005 12:11 PM To: Susann Myers Cc: Susan Porter Subject:
Re: Pierce House Siding
Your drawings are correct. The only difference I can see between what was installed at Pierce and your drawing is that the "easing" or rounding of the boards at Pierce may have simply been a disintegration or dry rot and not deliberately softened. The evidence was a bit difficult to read. The irregularity of these edges and the absence of tool marks might point toward this decay explanation though. Besides, I don't see why the carpenters working at Pierce would waste the time to plane down the edges. I think the boards may have begun their life with a sharp edge 240 years ago.
When replicating these sheathing boards, I chose to ease the sharp edges with a few passes of a block plane I felt that handling the boards was safer during installation and over time, the thicker, stiffer edge would hold up better and be less likely to break.
Otherwise, I think your drawings are dead-on.
Of course the boards are installed to shed water away from the house. I have asked several noted Architectural Historians about the purpose of beveled edge sheathing on a house which always had siding.
I have heard that the beveled edges allow for water shedding during what could be a fairly slow clapboarding process given the amount of hand work each piece of siding receives. I have also been told that the beveled edges are a traditional treatment to allow a better, seamless coverage of the house so that the nailing of the siding can more likely than not hit wood every time rather than the occasional void between boards.
I hope this helps.
The Pierce House is the oldest house in Boston proper and is located at 24 Oakton Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Oakton is off of Adams Street and fairly close to Gallivan Boulevard. The house is now designated as a "programs" property, dedicated to teaching children and adults about history and architecture.
ps. Of course, to truly emulate the Pierce house system of historic building fabric, you will have to stuff the walls with eel grass (sea weed) which was the insulation of choice in both the original portion of the house in 1683 as well as the 1712 addition.
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Eric Krause forwarded to me the description you had sent him of the 1765 beveled siding on the Pierce House. I am the restoration architect working with Eric and others on the conservation of the reconstructed buildings at the Fortress of Louisbourg.
I am very interested in the details of the beveled siding that you describe, and would like to be certain that I have understood your description correctly. I have sketched up what I think you are describing, regarding the angle of the bevels and the 1/8" easing that prevented them from coming to a sharp point. My drawing is attached, as a pdf file. Could you look at this and confirm that I have understood your explanation correctly, or let me know where I am mistaken?
Also, could you tell me where the Pierce House is located?
for your help. Best regards, Susann Myers Restoration Architect
PWGSC Service Integration Team for Parks Canada Halifax, Nova Scotia