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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
Interior Woodwork in the Engineer's House
by Linda Hoad
Memoranda Series, 1958 - 1970, Unpublished Report HF 25 1958 - 1970
(Fortress of Louisbourg, 1969
by Linda Hoad In Historians,
Preliminary Architectural Studies,
Volume 03, Unpublished Report HG 02
(Fortress of Louisbourg, 1972),
Report Number HF25 1958-1970 27)
The purpose of this study has been to collect and compare all available primary and secondary source information concerning interior woodwork. Since few details are given in the Engineer's House Toisé and it is often ambiguous, the comparative study seemed the best method of arriving at suitable recommendations. The topics covered in this study are wainscoting and ceilings, partitions, doors, trim, shutters, stairs, and window sills and lintels. In each section, the relevant primary sources are discussed first, then the secondary sources. I have tried wherever possible to base my recommendations on the primary source evidence. The documentation for this study has not been included here because it would have been too unwieldy. If any further clarification is required, a Xerox copy of any reference can easily be provided on request.
WAINSCOTING AND CEILING
The price paid for all the lambris, and for the ceilings in the Engineer's House was 14 livres per square toise. The Toisé specified that the material used was 1 pouce planks., planed, and tongue and grooved. This included the wainscoting in the window embrasures and the soubassement [NOTE 1].
These specifications and this price are confirmed by the Toisés of 1727 [NOTE 2] and 1731 [NOTE 3] for wainscoting and ceilings in the chapel, governor's kitchen, salle d'armes and the old chapel. The wood used is generally pine.
Most secondary sources discuss only elaborate panelling and lath and plaster ceilings. Briseux states that 11 pouce planks, tongue and grooved may be used [NOTE 4]. Belidor recommends board and batten wainscoting and ceilings [NOTE 5].
The wainscoting and ceilings in the Engineer's House should be of pine planks, 1 pouce thick, planned and beaded, of tongue and groove construction. Beading has been used for similar work in other parts of the restoration, and does not seem out of place here, although it is not specifically mentioned in the documents.
Two types of partitions were used in the Engineer's House. The ground floor partitions and an armoire to hold papers were built of 2 pouce boards, planed on both sides, of tongue and groove construction. This work cost 22 livres per square toise. The upper floor and the petit cabinet had partitions (in the case of the petit cabinet, this item also included wainscoting and ceiling) of one pouce planks, planed and of tongue and groove construction. This work cost only 14 livres per square toise [NOTE 1].
The specifications for the Duperrier-Rodrigue house called for two pouce pine partitions,, planed on both sides, and of tongue and groove construction. The were to be held in place with tringles at the top and bottom [NOTE 2](see Remarks).
This evidence is confirmed by the other Toisés, Devis and Marchés, although the prices tend to vary. The Marché for work to be done at Port Toulouse (1733) specifies, that the partitions were to be held in place by tringles de fer [NOTE 3]. No other mention was found concerning the nature of tringles. (see Remarks).
Most secondary sources deal only with plastered partitions. Cloisons de menuiserie are described by Bullet [NOTE 4], and Briseux [NOTE 5]. They are used for corridors or for dividing a large room and are made of pine planks, 1 or l 1/2 pouces thick, tongued into each other and into oak coulisses (see Fig. I). Chabat defines cloisons de menuiserie as partitions made of planks, of tongue and groove construction, held in place by coulisses fastened to the ceiling and floor, or by an applied moulding (Tringle rapportée) [NOTE 6].
There seems to be a discrepancy between the primary and secondary sources concerning the method of fastening partitions. The secondary sources mention only coulisses, a grooved or slotted piece of wood. The word tringle has been more difficult to translate. The meanings found in the dictionaries consulted are: a square moulding; a long, flat, narrow, squared piece of wood with different uses; a piece of wood, squared with a moulding on one face. In the province of Quebec, the word tringle means baseboard and cornice. From the context, the Quebec connotation seems to be the best interpretation of the term, as used in the primary sources. I am unable to explain the Port Toulouse Marché which specifies iron tringles.
The partitions in the Engineer's House should be of pine, 1 or 2 pouces thick as specified in the Toisé planed,, and of tongue and groove construction. Beading could be used here also. The top and bottom of the partitions should be finished with a baseboard and cornice of a simple design, either a tringle or a coulisse. I would recommend the baseboards of the dormitory and community room of the Ferme St-Gabriel (Fig. II), with cornices in a similar style.
The exterior door of the Engineer's House was of 2 pouces pine, with emboitures (Fig. I) and cost 36 livres per square toise. The interior doors are somewhat of a problem. Under the main heading "Shutters and doors," a price of 25 livres per square toise is given for the shutters. The doors are listed next, with no mention of price or material [NOTE 1]. This leads one to assume that the doors are of the same material and construction as the shutters. However, five of the doors mentioned include an attique and a chambranle or trim. (see Remarks).
In the Duperrier-Rodrigue house, the exterior door was to be 2 pouces pine with oak emboitures, and the interior doors were to be 1 1/4 pouces pine with oak emboitures and trim [NOTE 2].
This type of door seems to be standard for Louisbourg. Usually exterior doors are 2 pouces thick, costing 36 livres per square toise, and interior doors 1 to l 1/4 pouces thick, costing 25 to 30 livres per square toise. The emboitures are oak or birch, secured with wooden pegs, and the doors are pine and of tongue and groove construction. This type of door was used in the Château St-Louis, the governor's wing, the hospital, and the Magasin de vivres [NOTE 3].
Several other door types are indicated by the documents. The 1718 Etat describes doors with battens, costing 4 to 8 livres each. The exterior door in this Etat was 2 leaf, consisting of 5 panels in each leaf, made of oak and assembled with lapped joints (à joint reconvert), and costing 20 livres. The interior doors, were of 1 pouce pine, tongue and grooved, costing 15 livres each [NOTE 4].
The Royal Battery Devis specifics that the exterior doors were to be 2 pouces either double leaf, oak, or lined with oak. They were of assemblage which normally means panelled [NOTE 5].
The main door of the Magasin de vivres was of 2 pouces boards, planed, and lined with 1 pouce planks [NOTE 6].
The entrance door to the Château St- Louis was made of birch, probably 2 pouces thick, and panelled [NOTE 7].
The doors discussed in the secondary sources are generally ornate panelled doors. However, many authors mention "plain" or "ordinary" doors., used for kitchens, attics, or cellars that resemble the doors described in the documents [NOTE 8]. Belidor specifies that the emboitures should be 5-6 pouces wide for a door that is l 1/2 pouces thick and 3 pieds by 6 1/2 pieds [NOTE 9]. Blondel recommends the combination of oak and pine, and specifies a mortise and tenon for joining the emboiture to the door [NOTE 10].
The lack of a price or description of materials for the interior doors of the Engineer's House makes it difficult to recommend a particular door type. It is quite probable that the five doors with an attique and trim differed from the rest of the doors. Very, likely these doors were panelled, although this type of work should be specified in the Toisé, since it is more costly than regular doors.
Because of the ambiguity of the Toisé, and the presence of an attique and trim, I would recommend that five of the interior doors in the Engineer's House be panelled. The rest of the interior doors should be of tongue and grooved pine, 1 pouce thick, planed both sides, with oak or birch emboitures top and bottom. The exterior door should be made in the same way, of two pouces pine.
The panelled doors should be à petit cadre; that is, the mouldings are cut from the solid, as opposed to mouldings built into the panels (Fig. III). There may be mouldings on both sides of the doors, but they should be quite simple. The 18th century door which was acquired in the province of Québec is a good example of this type of door (Fig. IV). Plan 737-5 shows a door in the proposed salle de conseil which could also serve as an example for the Engineer's House (Fig. V). Note that the attique of this door is out of proportion according to the secondary sources. Blondel recommends that the attique should be no less than 1/4 and no more than 1/3 the height of the door including the trim [NOTE 11].
The thickness of the wall may be panelled, wainscoted, or plastered.
The evidence for shutters is exactly the same as for doors, and does not need to be repeated here. The shutters in the Engineer's House should be of 1 pouce pine, planned both sides, tongue and grooved, with oak or birch emboitures top and bottom.
Five of the doors in the Engineer's House had trim which was specifically mentioned. There is no price or material given.
In 1726, Ganet asked for 52 livres per square toise for trim of oak or birch [NOTE 1].
The trim in the Château St. Louis was 4 pouces wide and cost 52 livres per square toise [MOTE 2].
The 1737 Marché specified that trim was to be 1 pouce thick, with a quarter round and two fillets, and assembled 3 with pegs. This work cost 41 livres 12 sols, per square toise [NOTE 3].
Most secondary sources recommend that trim should be 5-6 pouces wide by 2 pouces thick [NOTE 4]. Blondel recommends that doors in plastered partitions should be framed by making the jambs thicker than the other members, so that they project beyond the wall surface. They should be decorated with a quarter round or doucine (cyma recta) and 2 fillets [NOTE 5].
There are two meanings for the word chambranle. One is door trim, a thin strip of wood, moulded, forming a decorative frame around the door. The other meaning indicates the door frame (jambs and header), made of timber, and occasionally decorated. (Fig. I) It is not clear which of these is meant by the Toisé for the Engineer's House.
The five panelled doors should have trim 1 pouce thick and of a suitable width, decorated with a quarter round and two fillets. The other doors should probably have moulded jambs (quarter round and 2 fillets) or plain jambs if they are in rooms of less importance.
The Engineer' s House Toisé specifies hardwood or birch for the stringer and treads of the stairs, costing 35 livres per square toise. Under the heading "Partitions," material is listed for the stairs, including the wall stringer. The material used is 1 pouce planks, planed., tongue and grooved, costing 14 livres per square toise [NOTE 1].
In 1726, Ganet requested 42 sols per cubic pied for birch or oak to be used for stairs, 36 livres per square toise for 2 pouces birch or oak boards for treads and risers, 25 livres per square toise for planed pine for treads and risers, and 45 livres per square toise for 3 pouces birch or oak boards, planed, for stringers [NOTE 2].
The stairs in the château St. Louis were of 2 pouces birch at 36 livres per square toise: risers in the chapel; treads, stringers,, top and bottom railings, balusters and plates in the officers' quarters. The risers in the officers' quarters and the governor's wing were 1 pouce pine at 14 livres per square toise [NOTE 3].
The main staircase in the Magasin de vivres cost 25 sols per cubic pied: baluster, top railing, plate and braces. The steps and stringers were 2 pouces thick, planed both sides at 22 livres per square toise. This stairway was enclosed [NOTE 4].
The 1737 Marché specified that treads and risers were to be made of oak or birch, planed, tongue and grooved at 28 livres 16 sols per square toise. Stringers, wall stringers, top and bottom railings were to be oak or birch, planed, with a quarter round on one edge at 36 livres per square toise. If more than 4 pouces thickness was required, the work would be measured by the cubic pied. Wood balusters should be paid for by estimation [NOTE 5].
Most secondary sources recommend iron balusters and treads with a quarter round or half round with fillet (NOTE 6]. Blondel recommends that all visible comers of the stringer be moulded. Bullet and Architecture rurale suggest that the top of the stringer should be moulded if there is a top railing supported by balusters. Belidor indicates that wood balusters should be turned or hand-carved [NOTE 7].
The Toisé is again ambiguous and difficult to interpret. There is only enough hardwood to make 6 treads. The partition material, including the wall stringers, measures only 13 pieds 6 pouces by 2 pieds 9 pouces. An iron railing is mentioned., but it may have been used in the garden.
The stairs in the Engineer's House should be 2 pieds 9 pouces wide: the treads and risers should be of 2 pouces hardwood, the stringer should be of 2 or 3 pouces hardwood, and the partition of 1 pouce planks, tongue and grooved, and planed. The treads and the stringer should have a simple moulding, probably quarter round, with or without fillets.
WINDOW SILLS AND LINTELS
There is no mention of window sills in the Engineer's House Toisé and no lintels as such. There are, however, 18 headers for doors and windows, each 5 pieds long and 8 by 10 pouces thick [NOTE 1].
In the Duperrier-Rodrigue house, the sills and lintels were to be 2 or 3 pouces hardwood, planed [NOTE 2].
The sills and lintels in Ganet's contract, in the Château and in the Magasin de vivres were 2 pouces oak or birch, and cost 36 livres per square toise. Muiron's contract stated that this work should be of oak or birch, planed and tongue and grooved, and should cost 28 livres 16 sols per square toise [NOTE 3].
There is no secondary source information concerning window sills or lintels.
The window sills and lintels in the Engineer's House should be of 2 pouces oak or birch, planed and tongue and grooved. If there is any moulding, it should be very simple.
(A) WAINSCOTING AND CEILING: [NOTE 1]: 30 septembre 1734, AC C"B, vol. 16, ff. 206(v)- 07(v); [NOTE 2]: 4 mai 1727, AC C"B, vol. 9, ff. 169(v)-71; [NOTE 3]: 1 septembre 1731, AC C11B, vol. 12, ff. 137-8; [NOTE 4]: C.E. Briseux, L'art de batir des maisons de campagne, Prault Père, Paris, 1743, tome II, p. 162; [NOTE 5]: B. Belidor, La science des ingénieurs, C. Jombert, Paris, 1729, Livre IV, P. 45; B. PARTITIONS: [NOTE 1]: 30 September 1734, AC C11B, vol. 16, ff. 206(v)-07(v); [NOTE 2]: AFO G2, vol. 184, ff. 392-4; [NOTE 3]: 28 septembre 1733, AC C"B, vol. 14, ff. 312-12(v); [NOTE 4]: P. Bullet, Architecture pratique, A. Jombert, Paris, 1780, p. 409; [NOTE 5]: C.E. Briseux, Architecture moderne, C. Jombert, Paris, 1728, tome I, p. 92; [NOTE 6]: Pierre Chabat, Dictionnaire des termes employés dans la construction. V.A. Morel et cie, Paris, 1875-76. (C) DOORS: [NOTE 1]: 30 September 1734, AC C11B vol. 16, ff. 208-09; [NOTE 2]: AFO G2, vol. 184, ff. 392-4; [NOTE 3]: 4 mai 1727, AC C11B, vol. 9, ff. 173-03(v); 1 novembre 1727, AC C11B, vol.9, ff. 188-89; [NOTE 4]: 31 décembre 1718, AC C11B, vol. 3, ff. 119- 30(v); [NOTE 5]: 8 août 1723, AC C11B, vol. 6, f. 307(v); [NOTE 6]: 1 novembre 1727, AC C11B, vol. 9, f. 189; [NOTE 7]: 1 septembre 1731, AC C11B., vol. 12, ff. 146-46(v); [NOTE 8]: Briseux, Maisons de campagne, tome II, p. 161; Briseux, Architecture moderne, tome I, pp. 87-8; P. Bullet, Architecture pratique, pp. 400-01; [NOTE 9]: B. Belidor, La science des ingénieurs, Livre VI, p. 45; [NOTE 10]: J.F. Blondel, Cours d'architecture, Desaint, Paris, 1771-77, tome sixième, p. 369; (E) TRIM: [NOTE 1]: 30 september 1734, AG C11B, vol. 16, ff. 208-09; [NOTE 2]: 12 novembre 1726, AC C11B, vol. 8. ff. 167-67(v); [NOTE 3]: 10 mai 1737, AC C11B, vol. 19, f. 182(v); [NOTE 4]: Briseux., Maisons de campagne. tome II., p. 161; Architecture moderne, tome I, pp. 87-8; Belidor, La science des ingénieurs, Livre IV, p. 98; Bullet, Architecture pratique, pp. 400-01; [NOTE 5]: Blondel, Cours d'architecture, tome sixième, p. 293; (F) STAIRS: [NOTE 1]: 30 septembre 1734, AC C11B, Vol. 16, ff. 205-05(v), 207; [NOTE 2]: 12 novembre 1726, AC C11B, vol. 8. ff. 166-66(v); [NOTE 3]: 4 mai 1727, AC C11B, vol. 9, ff. 165(v)-67, 169(v)-71; [NOTE 4]: 1 novembre 1727, AC C"B, vol. 9, ff. 186-86(v); [NOTE 5]: 10 mai 1737,, AC C11B, vol. 19, f. 181; [NOTE 6]: Bullet, Architecture pratique, P. 334; Blondel, Cours d'architecture, tome sixième, pp. 295-6; Architecture rurale, Jean-Matthieu Douladoure, Toulouse, 1820, p. 161; [NOTE 7]: Belidor, La science des ingénieurs, Livre VI, p. 44. (G) WINDOW SILLS AND LINTELS: [NOTE 1]: 30 septembre 1734, AC C11B, vol. 16, f. 205; [NOTE 2]: AFO G2, vol. 184, ff. 392-4; [NOTE 3]: 12 novembre 1726, AC C11B, vol. 8, f. 166; 4 mai 1727, AC C11B, vol. 9, ff. 165(v)-67; 1 novembre 1727, AC CIIB, vol. 9, f. 188; 10 mai 1737, AC C11B, vol. 19, f. 181.