ERIC KRAUSE

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ERIC KRAUSE REPORTS

MY HISTORICAL REPORTS
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RANDALL HOUSE REPORTS

Randall House Museum, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
http://wolfvillehs.ednet.ns.ca/ 
  


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Historic Randall House

©McGill University


RANDALL HOUSE

A RECONNAISSANCE HISTORICAL REPORT

By Eric Krause

Krause House Info-Research Solutions

September 24, 2007

[Updated October 9, 2008]


Floor Plans (Source)

                 
Basement   First Floor   Second Floor   Attic Floor

QUESTIONS

Reconnaissance Research Trip to Wolfville, Nova Scotia: Randall House ~ September 24, 2007

Prior to our visit, Ms. Elliott, on behalf of the Association, forwarded me some examples of the questions to which they wished answers:

INTRODUCTION TO THE VISIT

The goal of this reconnaissance trip was to determine the practicality of answering these questions during this visit. Replying yes, to some of them was enticing. At first blush, the building history of the Randall House appears relatively straightforward and understandable. However, as we moved about the rooms, details began to arise that raised even more questions. Some even impacted upon the eighteen questions above. It soon became clear that any answer would first require a better understanding of the house as a whole.

SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT

One of the discovered details was most startling. Found beneath the clapboards, high up in the two gable ends of the house, was a sheathing of bevelled boards. Reminiscent of those used at the Fortress of Louisbourg (1713-1758), on Cape Breton Island (Isle Royalle) beginning c. 1730, they were a rare application up and down the east coast of English North America during the immediate and postcolonial period. For example, besides French Louisbourg, there was the English Pierce House (built c. 1683 with a c.1765 application of bevelled boards).

Note: To examine the following two sites, please bookmark this Randall House page first so that you may easily return to it:

Obviously, these boards raise many questions of their own. Also unusual was the use of the timber in the construction in the basement of each of the two masonry chimney bases. A scientific analysis of the mortar for the stones might also reveal it to be earth-based (if it were not mortar with the lime leached out of it) rather than lime-based .

Both, the timber and the mortar, might reflect a local, period building practice. Likewise, might be the use of spilt boards rather than split laths for the plastered ceiling in the basement, and splines rather than tongues and grooves for at least some of the early ground-floor flooring boards. The support system in the basement for the original hearths of the ground floor fireplaces reflects a primitive but functional artisanship that deserves a closer look.  The use of hand-wrought nails with rose heads here was quite apparent.

Requiring close research for interpretive and dating purposes are the following: the unusual relationship of the exterior stone and the interior hand-made bricks (some perhaps burnt and thus re-used) of the perimeter foundation, the original brick oven bricks located within the cupboard area, the variation in the orientation and size of the ground floor joists, the original rise of the present rear stairwell, the original "yellow ochre" colour found here and there, the dimensions of the ghosts of H&L hinges found here and there, the "Victorian" style hinges found here and there, the fire inserts, and the apparent series of partitioned areas in the attic.

Requiring cataloguing to determine chronological and aesthetical room differences are the door casings, window casings, and baseboards throughout the building. In particular, the original (18th-century style) baseboards in the second floor display closet are important.

Cataloguing the location of visible hand wrought, cut and wire nails, is, of course, critical to establishing any chronology within and without the house.   

Observed, for leveling/setting the ground floor flooring, were shims, which might be shingles taken from the original source used for roofing the house.

And on and on this house talks to us.

PHOTOS

(Please Click on a Title to See the Image)

EXTERIOR


BASEMENT
(00 Series)


FIRST FLOOR
(100 Series)

Room 103 /Kitchen /South East

Room 102 /Passageway

Room 101 /Dining Room /North East

Room 108 /Back Sitting Room (Study) /South West

In the corner of this room is an apparent exposed corner post. It has a beaded edge, board sheathing. Similar boxed features, but generally without a beaded edge, appear in other rooms. In the front parlour one corner of a room lacks this feature, while in the hallway, two flank the front doorway.  The question arises whether behind all, some, or none of the boxed features actually exists a corner or intermediate post.

Exposed interior corner posts were a colonial feature of some buildings: For example, in Massachusetts (Martin House Farm (1715), Swansea), in Maryland ("Anderton's Desire" (c. 1783 or earlier), East New Market, Dorchester County), or in Nova Scotia, (The Koch-Solomon House (mid-1700s), Lunenburg).  Interior corner posts likewise appear in post-colonial constructions, such as the 1820's addition to the Zachariah “Zack” Talley House (Sumner County, Tennessee).

Exposed corner posts also appeared in transitional timber framing that found its way, for example, between 1780 and 1850, into Vermont. Here builders wished to replace the traditional larger intermediate posts between the corner posts with smaller posts, like dimensional 2 x 4's. Naturally, if the smaller posts lined up with the exterior face of the corner posts, they would not line up with the interior face.

If a builder then finished off his interior walls between, rather than against, the corner posts, these posts might remain exposed. The builder perhaps then added a decorative bead for example, or not. Otherwise, he might box them with boards, with or without a decorative finish.

Room 110 /Front (Main) Hall /North

Bedroom (Children's) /Room 206 /South West

Main Bedroom (Patriquin) /Room 207 /North West

Centre Hall (Upstairs) /Room /205 South


ATTIC
(300 Series)

Found beneath the clapboards, high up in the two gable ends of the house, was a sheathing of bevelled boards. Reminiscent of those used at the Fortress of Louisbourg (1713-1758), on Cape Breton Island (Isle Royalle) beginning c. 1730, they were a rare application up and down the east coast of English North America during the immediate and postcolonial period. For example, besides French Louisbourg, there was the English Pierce House (built c. 1683 with a c.1765 application of bevelled boards).

Note: To examine the following two sites, please bookmark this Randall House page first so that you may easily return to it:

- Fortress of Louisbourg Details (Another site)
- Pierce House (Another page on this site)


FURTHER HISTORICAL RESEARCH

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