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FROM: "HistoricNewEngland.Org" <> 
DATE: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 14:18:28 GMT
TO: "" <>
SUBJECT: Historic New England Contact Us form submissionThank you for taking the time to contact us!
The following information was received and we will be in contact very soon.

Form Submitted On: 3/23/2005 9:18:28 AM
Form Contents:
NAME: Eric Krause
ADDRESS: 62 Woodill St
CITY: Sydney


It's my understanding that there was found in the Pierce House very wide sheathing boards with beveled edges top and bottom. I worked at the Fortress of Louisbourg (1713-1758) for 28 years as an historian and the one thing we encountered again and again was this type of board being imported from "Boston" for use as both a wall weatherboard, and as a roof sheathing.  Check out: Web and in particular,
[Later ]

My understanding is that a Historic Structures Report was produced a number of years ago, and that Susan Porter may be the person who has this information. I am interested in the size and angle of the bevel, the thickness of the board, its wood type, and whether you have any details where this board originated from in the 18th-century (Boston or New England supplier names, etc.).

Of course, any help at all would be appreciated.



FROM: "Steve O'Shaughnessy" <> 
DATE: Thu, 31 Mar 2005 13:14:47 -0500
TO: <
SUBJECT: Pierce House Sheathing


I was forwarded your question from Susan Porter, our resident Historian. I am the staff Preservation Carpenter who headed the Pierce house restoration project in 2002/2003. The wide sheathing boards were probably installed during the last major renovation of the house in 1765. Prior to that date the siding was hung directly on the frame. They were pine and were probably locally milled but the precise source is unknown. They were between 1" and 1-1/4" in thickness but the width ranged from 12" to 22" wide with an average of 18". The beveled top and bottom edges had an angle of about 30 degrees with approx. a 2" face to the bevel. These bevels did not come to a razors edge but were eased about 1/8" from doing so. All were attached with wrought iron spikes into the red oak frame. 

In addition to the 1765 addition, there was an addition to the west in 1713. The sheathing there was installed for the first time in 1834 (based on newsprint spread out over a section of the wall with dates from 1833 and 1834) 170 year old siding is pretty old but the entire house had been covered by cement-asbestos shingles installed in the late 1930's which protected them fairly well. This siding is a great example of transitional wooden clapboards. Historians agree that the skiving of clapboard ends was phased out about 1830 which fits very well with the 1834 date that was found. Except for the badly split pieces (caused by the nailing of the subsequent layer, they were in beautiful condition. These thick, Spruce claps were true 6" widths with hand planed fronts and planed along the back but only the bottom two inches or so where they would be lapping onto the next clapboard. They also had a very slight bevel cut back from their front edge. Perhaps to ensure a real tight fit. We were able to repair and rehang about 50% of these clapboards on Pierce House. 

I hope this information helps. Steven O'Shaughnessy Preservation Carpenter Historic New England 185 Lyman Street Waltham, MA 02452 781-891-4882, x236

From: "Susann Myers" <>
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2005 15:34:25 -0500

Thanks, Eric.

This is indeed interesting material. I noticed recently that the reconstruction drawings for the De la Valliere house call for the 45 degree bevelled siding to have the point of the bevel cut off, 1/8" from the face. I haven't had a chance yet to look at the Design Team minutes for the basis of this decision, but am looking forward to it.


FROM: "Eric Krause" < >
DATE: Thu, 31 Mar 2005 18:37:41 -0400
TO: "Susann Myers" <
SUBJECT: REPLY - RE: From Eric Krause - FWD: Pierce House Sheathing
Hi Susann:

A quick look. There are, of course, lots of references to bevels, but perhaps these are the most illuminating:

"[Block 17] DeGannes House Revetment Material has been ordered. E. Krause has provided more historical information on bevels from the 18th century in New England and Connecticut, showing examples of revetments with very steep bevels (twice the length of board thickness). This information should be examined for future revetments." December 12, 1991 B 228 340 - 346

"Bevelled Sidings, Angle of Bevel S. Myers noted that, for ordering siding for [Isle Du Quay] Cassagnolles-Detcheverry Magasin, angle of bevel must be decided. Also more general decision required, to develop stockpile of 1 pouce bevelled boards. Samples of 1 pouce and 2 pouce pine boards presented to Design Team members by L. Wadden, with both 45 degree and 60 degree bevels. Although there is no primary evidence of 60 degree bevels, there is secondary evidence of same. (Basis: Excerpts from The Early Domestic Architecture of Connecticut (see attached) and documentary references re bevelled roof boards at Louisbourg (see APT Bulletin Volume II, Nos 1-2, 1970, pp. 62-69. L. Wadden noted extra wastage from 60 degree bevel, but this was found to be approximately 1/2" more per board than from 45 degree bevel. This represents an average of 5 - 6% extra material required, which should be compensated - for by improved weathertightness. Therefore, it was recommended by the D.T. that 60 degree bevels be used for l- pouce sidings; 60 degree bevel was not considered appropriate for 2 pouce sidings. E. Krause noted importance of keeping boards as wide and as long as possible, for historic accuracy. Questions were also raised concerning nailing of bevelled boards; C. Burke to conduct research re sizes of nails found at revetted buildings."
August 06, 1992 B 244 160 - 167

" [Isle Du Quay] Cassagnolles-Detcheverry Magasin Re bevelled boards, S. Myers suggested bevelling ends of boards (vertical joints) as well as horizontal joints. (Basis: Excerpts from The Early Domestic Archtecture of Connectcut (circulated with minutes of August 6, 1992); as-found evidence e Quay Wall planking; and rot occurring presently without bevels. To discuss with E. Krause rior to decision."
August 20, 1992 B 244 168 - 179

" Roof E. Krause and S. Myers reviewed documentation and recommended roof boarding be based on Cabanne "B" (Basis: See Cabanne "B" description attached) description consisting of two layers of boards running lengthwise on roof. Finish layer will be of pine boards, 1" x 8"- 10"x random lengths, exterior face band-sawn and over- lapping three pouces. Lower layer (sheathing boards) will be of 1" pine, 8"-10" wide, and bevelled at a 45-degree angle; interior face of bevelled roofing boards will be band- sawn as well. T. Meagher expressed some concern over bandsawn exterior roofing boards, re hastening deterioration. E. Krause noted historic documents not clear on whether roofing boards were planed, or by whom. After some discussion, it was agreed to leave boards on this building unplaned."
July 21, 1993 B 245 144 - 150

" RECAP OF BEAUSÉJOUR RESIDENCE (BLOCK 3) S. Myers noted no dating of souillardes found in Maisons du Quercy et du Perigord. A. Crépeau has found a dictionary reference for souillarde - was being used in 1731 to mean "dirty", and was regional dialect (see attached); however, it is not clear when it came to be used for sink and vaisselier arrangements. In addition, it was agreed that the vertical joints on the south gable horizontal siding will be bevelled on a 45 degree angle, similar to the Cassagnolles- Detcheverry Magasin siding. (BASIS: Examples of bevelled boarding in New England (The Early Domestic Architecture of Connecticut, pp. 79, 83); bevelled roof- ing boards, Manoir Niverville, Trois Rivières, Que.)"
April 4, 1995 B 313 63 - 70

FROM: "Susann Myers" <> | Save Address
DATE: Fri, 1 Apr 2005 09:06:23 -0500
TO: <>
SUBJECT: Pierce House Siding

Dear Steven:

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?

Many thanks for your help.

Best regards,
Susann Myers

Restoration Architect
PWGSC Service Integration Team for Parks Canada
Halifax, Nova Scotia

<<sheathing-pierce house.pdf>>

wpe2.gif (88155 bytes)

Please Click on The 
Image to Enlarge it


-----Original Message-----
From: Steve O'Shaughnessy []
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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