Friday, October 4, 2019

Clues in the Clapboards

Just down Main Street from the Conway Public Library is the Eastman Lord House, part of the Conway Historical Society.

From archival records we know that the earliest section of the house was built in 1818 and then it was added to and expanded over the years. This is one of the buildings we focus on we we do free outreach walking and driving tours of Conway and the Mount Washington Valley.

Recently, two sections of it were scraped in preparation for repainting it. While the main purpose is to protect the building and present a pleasing appearance for potential visitors, the project also exposed some interesting physical evidence that helps us better understand the story of the Eastman Lord House.

The clues are in the clapboards. After the paint was scraped off, a close observation revealed that clapboards were joined together in two different ways.

The section on the right with the door and the bay window facing south towards Main Street is joined with butt joints where two flat surfaces meet together with no overlap.

The section on the left (with no door) facing east towards the Sweet Maple Cafe using the older style feathered joint where the boards are tapered and overlap to create a more weather tight joint.

According to James Garvin’s book A Building History of Northern New England, pp. 32-34, “It was an almost universal practice of carpenters until well into the nineteenth century to skive and lap the ends of clapboards in order to provide a weatherproof joint. By 1830 or so, this technique was abandoned in favor of simple butt joints at the ends of clapboards,”

You can see this reference online here. Or you can check this book out from the Conway Public Library here at this link.  

Here is the building with the primer on and drying for the next coat of paint hiding the history we could only see for a fleeting moment.

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

No comments:

Post a Comment