CONTENTS Preface Introduction Significance Areas of Additional Research Period I: c.1710 - c.1780 Period II: c.1780 - c.1812 Period III: c.1812 - 1911 Period IV: 1911 - 1937 Period V: 1937 - 1910 Inspection of Probes 1 3 5 6 9 19 47 65 73 79


Preface Perhaps what makes the Cadman White Handy house so interesting is that it is not simply a well preserved old house, but rather three remarkable houses that correspond with the first three significant trends to occur in this nation's architectural history. Each campaign -- from the original early eighteenth century house, to the mideighteenth century improvements in the Georgian manner, to the Federal style addition -- speaks volumes about the people, they represent. place, and period Furthermore, what is equally fascinating about this building is what doesn't exist: those numerous, incremental modern improvements and alterations performed by recent occupants to update a house. While small changes have occurred, they are limited in scale and have done little to damage the fabric of the building. This exceptional state of preservation is largely the product of Louis and Eleanor Tripp's devotion to the property. Inasmuch as the significance of the Cadman White Handy house lies with the families and people that built and enlarged the house, it is likely it would not be here today, in the condition that it is in, if not for the care and treatment it received under the Tripps' ownership. Hopefully, many generations to come will benefit from their stewardship of this fascinating property.


Figure 1.

South facade, July 2011.

Figure 2.

West facade, July 2011.


Introduction This report documents the findings generated by the author after a series of site visits to the Cadman White Handy house between June and September 2011. This architectural investigation was commissioned for the purpose of studying the architectural fabric of the house in order to begin to gain an accurate understanding of the chronological evolution of the house. While some general assumptions existed concerning the age and development of the house, a formal examination of the house aimed at understanding subtle changes within each space as well as the building as a whole had never been undertaken. This report attempts to identify many of the principal changes that occurred to the house between its initial construction in the early years of the eighteenth century to today. This report is not intended to be definitive. The purpose of this exercise was to begin to understand the development of this building. The findings of this report are intended to act as the starting point for further study. Owing to the limited scope of this project, heavy emphasis was placed on the study of the building's architectural fabric. No physical testing of materials was undertaken. In two locations where floor boards were lifted to examine deflections in floors and ceiling plaster, a comprehensive examination of these probes were made. A limited amount of archival research was conducted; these were largely limited to documents within the Westport Historical Society's collections. These included past reports and articles on the Handy house and occupants, wills, probate inventories, and numerous photographs. The dates used in this report to identify periods should not be considered definitive; the precise dating of specific campaigns and features requires further investigation and is beyond the scope of this report. In some instances, the dates assigned are born out of past research and have been accepted as providing a generally accurate representation of an era. In other instances, dates have been assigned that span a range in time that a feature or campaign may pertain to. These dates have been assigned based on characteristics, materials, or styles typical of those years. The author would like to thank the members of the Westport Historical Society's Facilities Committee for their guidance and sharing their knowledge of the site. Foremost acknowledgements are due to Jenny O'Neill, Director of the Westport Historical Society for supplying the author with archival documentation, providing access to the house, and introducing me to other likeminded individuals involved with the house. The author is indebted to Martha Werenfels, Principal, Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects, for allowing the use of measured drawings developed by her and her project team. I would especially like to thank Pete Baker and Geraldine Millham for taking the time to share their intimate knowledge of the building and personal records on the site. Many thanks to all of you.


Figure 3.

North facade, July 2011.

Figure 4.

East facade, July 2011.


Significance The Cadman White Handy house is a remarkable artifact. It is significant on a number of levels within a broad range of subjects. Considering the age of the building, the number of owners and inhabitants, and the improvements made to it through time, the house retains an extraordinarily high level of integrity. Though changes have been made to it throughout the course of its existence, they have done little damage to the vital features and characteristics that tell the near 300-year history of the building and site. One of the most important features about the house is the quality of its interior; it remains largely a representation of how it existed at the time of the last significant building campaign, sometime around c. 1820 (Period III). This improvement was basically an addition to the west end of the house, leaving the earlier portion of the house unaffected. So while decorative treatments (paint and wallpaper) have changed, the architectural fabric -- the floor plan, wall surfaces, doors, woodwork, etc. -- are essentially intact and are representative of the first three periods of the building's life (c. 1710 - c. 1820). What sets the Cadman White Handy house apart from other historic buildings of its type is both the degree to which these interior finishes survive and the condition in which they remain. In short, these features are exceptional. Much of the Period II and Period III woodwork has very little paint on it (and in a few instances none or only a single coat). This, in combination with the design and execution of the architectural details result in unadulterated surfaces that, aside from their color, exhibit much their same appearance as when they were first built. Additionally, the house retains unique features that, once common in dwelling houses, through time have have disappeared. Features such as the smoke chamber and storage space in the chimney, cranes in every fire place, and both stairs and a hatch into the attic -- all original to their periods and not reconstructions -- are rare details to find remaining intact. While the immediate significance of the Cadman White Handy house lies with its ties to Westport (and Dartmouth), its value transcends locality, and like all historical documents, its interpretation depends on the context in which it is studied. Owing to the quality of the architecture and archival documentation pertaining to the site, The Cadman White Handy house is a resource valuable locally, regionally, and nationally. The house may be studied and/or interpreted in a number of ways. Relevant themes might include: Locally • Early settlement and development of Dartmouth and Westport • First Period architecture in Massachusetts Regionally • Domestic architecture and living arrangements in eighteenth and nineteenth century southeastern Massachusetts/New England • Vernacular building traditions and design aesthetics in southeastern Massachusetts/ New England Nationally • Example of an American domestic residence exhibiting 300 years of evolution


• The adaptation of European building traditions in the American colonies While numerous house museums dot the New England landscape, very few comparable examples rival the Cadman White Handy house in overall quality and completeness. The house is a unique architectural time capsule that embodies the first three principal architectural trends to occur in this nation's history, as well as representing the story of everyday life in Westport over the course of three centuries. Areas of Additional Research Based on observations made during the course of this investigation, the following list identifies areas of additional research that will likely yield valuable information regarding the construction and evolution of the house. Probes As the exercise performed during the course of this investigation has shown, much can be learned from studying the areas of the building hidden behind its finishes. The remaining pieces of the Period I house likely contain valuable information about the original house plan, decorative treatments (both interior and exterior), and possibly even the fenestration of the original house. Whenever possible, whether as part of work performed on the building or as an independent undertaking, careful study and documentation of the building's framing and inner cavities should be made to gather what information can be learned from these areas. One area that is relatively accessible and likely to yield a large amount of information is the attic framing. Study of the second floor

ceiling framing viewable here may indicate where partitions were located on the second floor, the location of an earlier attic stair, and additional information concerning the chimney mass. With the attic floorboards removed, the framing system here could be accurately measured and drawn as well. Dendrochronology Dendrochronology, the science of tree-ring dating, should be considered to date the various periods of construction. This process consists of coring samples (about the diameter of a pencil) from select timbers throughout each phase of construction, and with the aid of computer software, analyzing the pattern of the timber's growth rings. This pattern is then compared to an established sequence allowing it to be accurately dated. To perform this analysis, samples must be taken from timbers that have an accessible waney edge, that is to say, they must contain a portion of the outer surface of the tree they were fashioned from. While the author made note of timbers that had the potential to supply samples for analysis, those individuals experienced with the removal of the samples can better identify which timbers will yield serviceable specimens. That said, a number of framing members were observed that appeared to be good candidates for this process. Archival Research A concerted effort should be made to identify, evaluate and assemble all of the archival documentation that exists on the building, site, and families associated with them. This information, correlated with what has been learned from the physical fabric of the

building, will help illustrate a clearer history of the site and, hopefully, answer questions concerning when and who made certain changes to the house. Understanding the occupants' economic conditions, social environments, and standings within the community allows us to better comprehend the relationship between the people living within the house and the architecture itself. Insomuch as the physical fabric shows us the product of changes, archival documentation can inform us as to when and why these improvements were made. Archaeology When conditions allow, archaeology should be performed in and around the perimeter of the house. Owing to the evolution of the house, a number of builders trenches presumably exist around the building. These areas likely contain a variety of objects relating to both the construction and alteration of each phase of building, as well as the people living and working on the site. Analysis of these objects will help inform and illustrate daily life in and around the house throughout the course of its existence. As easements are held on the site, archaeology may be a stipulated condition of these instruments prior to conducting work that may disturb sensitive areas. This issue should be considered when planning any work that may include below-ground disturbances. Consultation with an archaeologist should help to determine the scope and scale of archaeology necessary to satisfy local and state regulations governing this matter.

Additional Investigation In planning future work on the building, consideration should be made to undertaking the further investigation of spaces to better understand them. This is largely confined to those rooms that have been altered since Period II, such as Rooms 100, 104, and 204 (See Figures 36, 37, 44). These spaces show clear evidence of partitions and surface treatments that should be more closely examined. Selective, targeted paint and mortar analysis are also useful tools for helping understand the evolution of spaces. While paint analysis can be employed for studying the colors of finish layers and determining decorative finish schemes used within spaces, it is extremely useful as an analytical tool for understanding where and when certain architectural elements may have been introduced/altered within the context of an individual space or the building as a whole. The same holds true for mortar analysis. These processes are most effective when their use is carefully considered and narrowly defined, rather than spread thin over large areas without a definitive goal in mind.


Figure 5


Chronological Evolution Note - Numbers in parentheses identify corresponding figure. Period I c. 1710 - c. 1780 Owing to the extensive degree of work performed on the house during the Period II improvements, a large amount of Period I fabric has been removed in its entirety or encapsulated under later finishes. Key elements such as the Period I chimney mass, stairs, the southwest corner post and the post immediately east of it were removed during the Period II improvements. The loss of these features in addition to the majority of the Period I roof framing complicates understanding how exactly the Period I house appeared. While the general form and mass of the building can be discerned, features such as the plan and fenestration of the building are difficult to determine. What we do know about the Period I house is that it was three bays wide by two piles deep, and two-stories high with a gable roof. The chimney mass was located at or near the west end of the house somewhere in the first bay (19, 120, 121). Enough of the original frame survives to illustrate the width, depth and height of the Period I house (6,7,8). While practically the entire roof framing has been altered and later replaced during Periods IV and V respectively, two pairs of original rafters remain in situ. The replacement rafters match the pitch of the originals resulting in a roof line that replicates that originally found on the building. Those elements of the original house that are available for study confirm the building exhibited First Period characteristics. Exposed framing members in the second floor east room and north rooms are chamfered with

lambs tongue stops (7,8,10,11). Secondary framing members, principally joists, that have been exposed by lifting floor boards in the attic and on the second floor reveal that these elements were planed smooth and treated with a slight chamfer along their edges, indicating the floor framing at both stories was originally exposed in the house (117, 118). Close study of the summer beam running through rooms 200 and 201 reveals chamfer stops on both sides of the wall that partitions these spaces, indicating that they were originally two separate rooms (11).1 Accepting that the original house exhibited many First Period characteristics and given its age, it it highly likely the plan of the Period I house was fairly simple, consisting principally of one or two large spaces on each floor with an equal number of smaller, secondary spaces. In the seventeenth century and early decades of the eighteenth century, rooms would have served a variety of functions depending on the needs at hand. Large, multipurpose rooms were necessary to accommodate tasks such as the preparation and cooking of food, the production of household necessities (soap, candles, cloth, etc.), laundry, etc., as well as the activities of daily life, eating, sleeping, receiving guests. It would not be until after the first quarter of the eighteenth century that specialized room use begins to introduce itself in the New England dwelling house. A fair amount of Period I fabric remains in the house. Some of this material is readily discernible (such as the flared posts, summer beams, and braces), while others are less readily evident owing to their similarity to Period II materials or concealed location (examples of these would be plaster finishes and floorboards).
1 The door between them is a later addition. Further evidence supporting this room being an original space can be seen at the attic level. The west wall of this room is plank construction. The boards run up past the plaster ceiling and are fastened to the west side of the tie beam

Some elements remaining in the house that are clearly Period I include: Two panel doors (38). Two of these doors remain in the house, one in situ at the door opening leading into the first floor northeast room (Room 100) and a second that is no longer in use and presently stored in the attic of the building. The design and construction of this door is a good representation of seventeenth century aesthetics. While the construction of the door is comparable to the later four and six panel doors (stile and rail frame with floating panels, mortise and tenon joinery pegged to secure it), stylistically, the two over two panel door is less decorative and simpler. The door retains its period hardware (wrought iron HL hinges and Suffolk latch). Timber frame - While some pieces of the Period I house frame have been lost to improvements and repairs through the centuries, a large amount of the frame remains. Though much of the framing system is concealed behind finishes, portions of it are exposed in some locations as it was intended to be when the house was originally constructed (6, 7, 8, 10, 11). In First Period construction, the timber frame of the building was not hidden away behind plaster and casings, but rather decorated and treated a part of the interior finish. To enhance the appearance of these timbers, edges were chamfered or, in some instances, run with a decorative profile. To terminate these treatments, equally decorative stops were carved at the ends; these, too, appear in a wide range of styles. At the Handy house, those timbers seen on the second floor, east of the chimney stack provide a good representations of this.

In the Hall Chamber (Room 201) the flared posts, tie-beams, braces and part of the north plate all remain uncovered, unlike their corresponding members one floor below which were hidden away behind casing during the Period II improvements (6, 7). It is curious that these second floor elements remained exposed while nearly all others are covered by plaster or cased in finished woodwork. Generally, if plaster had been applied or casings nailed to them, one would see lime burns and ghosts of lath or nails holes where treatments were fastened to them. A close inspection of the timbers surfaces shows no signs they were ever covered here. If one examines the chamfer stops on the tiebeams in both the Hall Chamber and the Northeast Room (200) you will notice that the chamfer is terminated at both ends in each room; each room is treated as a separate space. This tells us that each of these rooms existed independent of the other at the time the house was constructed. While a doorway currently exists in the wall between these two spaces, it is a later addition, dating to Abbott Smith and the Period IV alterations (104). Disregarding this doorway leaves us with the west doorway to the the room (between rooms 200 and 202) (8, 9). This is the original door opening to the room and retains a Period I architrave on the east side of the door opening. This is the only example of this profile remaining in the house.


Figure 6. Room 202 (Old Bedroom). All of the framing members we see in the north wall of the building here relate to the Period I house. The rising brace seen on the left side of the image marks the northwest corner of the Period I house.

Figure 7. Room 201 (Hall Chamber). View looking southeast. All of the exposed framing members -- posts, tie beams and brace -- relate to the Period I house. The corner post marks the southeast corner of the house. Like Room 200, the corner post here originally had a rising brace running up the east wall. This appears to have been removed during the Smith era (Period IV).

Figure 8. Room 200 (Second floor northeast room). The architrave on the west door and the presence of chamfer stops at each end of the summer beam suggest this room dates to the Period I house. The corner post marks the northeast corner of the Period I house. Originally a corresponding brace was located in the east wall of the structure. This appears to have been removed during the Smith era (Period IV).

Figure 9. Room 200, west door. This architrave dates to the Period I house. It is the only one of its type remaining and makes for an interesting comparison to the later Georgian and Federal style architraves found elsewhere in the house.

Figure 10. Room 201 (Hall Chamber), south wall. Detail of the post head and summer beam. The following image shows the corresponding chamfer stop at the north end of the room. Room 200 on the opposite side of the north wall has its own chamfer stops, indicating it was always treated as a separate space.

Figure 11. Room 201 (Hall Chamber), north wall. Chamfer stop at the north end of the summer beam. Room 200 on the opposite side of this wall has its own chamfer stops, indicating it was always treated as a separate space.

Figure 12. Room 202 (Old Bedroom), chimney closet. Looking west. The summer beam is only chamfered on the east face suggesting the west side of it was never intended to be seen. The beam may have been hidden behind paneling or somehow associated with the Period I chimney system.

Figure 13. Room 202 (Old Bedroom), chimney closet. Looking south. The plaster ceiling here predates the Period II improvements and relates to the Period I room located in the southeast corner of the second floor. The ceiling had to be cut away to accommodate the chimney and the Period II attic stair.

Figure 14. Cellar. Joist under Old Kitchen, running north/south. Another example of reused materials incorporated into the Period II framing.

Figure 15. Cellar. Joist under Old Kitchen, running north/south. This timber runs immediately next to the reused timber shown above; however, in this case a new timber was hewn for the purpose. The cupped tool marks indicate an adze was used to surface this timber.

Figure 16. Cellar. East wall. Remnants of seaweed used to fill the joints remain throughout the cellar walls.

Figure 17. Cellar. Girder under Old Kitchen, running east/west. The bottom edge of this timber has a chamfer and lambs tongue chamfer stop. This is likely a reused timber from either the Period I house or an entirely different building, installed during the Period II improvements. . The stop is closer to the end of the timber than normally found suggesting a portion of the timber has been removed.

Figure 18. Crawl space under Lobby Entry. South wall. A section of sill has been replaced with salvage material. Since sills on timber buildings of this age get replaced more frequently than other structural members, the vintage of this repair may not be extremely old.

Figure 19. Arrow points to an empty joist pocket. The pocket, now blocked by the Period II chimney, indicates a Period I joist was located here . No pockets were observed in the area of the tie beam encased by the chimney suggesting the Period I stack may have risen up through this location.

Figure 20


Period II c. 1780 - c. 1812 Period II improvements greatly altered the form, plan, and finishes of the Period I house. In addition to enlarging the house during this campaign, the interiors were finished with fashionable Georgian details, no doubt a tremendous contrast to the Period I finishes. By the time this work occurred (it is not known if the work we see here is the result of one single comprehensive campaign or the product of numerous incremental improvements over a period of years), the original Period I house with its First Period features would have been out of fashion for some years, replaced by the classically inspired Georgian style of architecture. Georgian architecture in the New England colonies began to appear during the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Introduced to the colonies chiefly by means of English sources, the roots of Georgian architecture grew out of classicism and antiquity. Employing such design aesthetics as bilateral symmetry, the use of classical orders and proportioning systems, architecture, at nearly all social levels, began to strive for formality. Beginning in England in the last quarter of the seventeenth century through works by Christopher Wren, by the dawn of the eighteenth century the English Baroque had spread throughout the country. Individuals emigrating to the colonies, especially those from urban areas and the upper ranks of society would have been well exposed to this style of building and strove to imitate it. The Period II improvements to the house transformed it from a relatively humble dwelling house into a fashionable two story, five-bay, center chimney, double pile house (20,21,22). With the entry located in the center bay and the windows arranged evenly across the south facade at both stories, the

house exhibited the symmetry and proportion characteristic of Georgian architecture (22). It is almost certainly during this period that the triangular pedimented frontispiece was added to the entry, further formalizing the house’s appearance (92). The organized composition of the window openings carried through on the gable ends of the building; however, at the rear of the building (north elevation), the placement of the windows became irregular (3). Here, room arrangement and the need for light and ventilation in these spaces, combined with the back of the house being less prominent, allowed for a break from the rigid symmetry strived for in the front of the house. It also appears that while the front and sides of the house received larger twelve-overtwelve light sashes on the first floor and eightover-twelve sashes on the second floor, the back of the house contained smaller nineover-nine and six-over-nine sashes respectively (22, 93). All of the windows at this time were single hung; that is to say the upper sash were fixed in place, while the bottom operated. Changes to the interior were extensive. The plan of the house revolved around the chimney mass (20, 21). Nearly centered in the house, all of the principal rooms were arranged around it. While at first glance the plan of the house may appear relatively simple, from a social perspective it is highly refined and carefully organized. Based on the existing architectural finishes that date to Period II, it appears that the house was divided into two nearly identical living spaces between floors. Drawing a line running east/ west through the center of the plan of the Period II house, it neatly divides the spaces with the most formal rooms in the front and secondary spaces to the rear. It may be that the basis for the Period II campaign was to enlarge and update the house to accommodate two separate family units (possibly different

Figure 21


generations or different siblings' families) under one roof. If one studies the rooms and their finishes closely, it is readily apparent that the two floors practically mirror each other. The obvious exception to this is the kitchen (which would have been shared) and the corresponding space on the second floor. While the present appearance of the Period II house suggests a classic “two front, three rear” arrangement of rooms, the rooms in the northwest corner on both floors and the northeast room on the first floor were each partitioned into two spaces during Period II (36, 37, 44, 45). While period references to room names and descriptions of rooms in the house have not yet been located, the arrangement of the rooms and their finishes provide us with some clues as to their use and function. Part of the Period II work included fitting out practically the entire interior with new finishes, including plaster ceiling and wall surfaces, casework, paneling, architraves and beaufats or corner cupboards (30, 32, 47, 60). Perhaps best representative of this work is the lobby entry and staircase (37, 54, 55). In crossing one’s threshold, this is the first space experienced by guests entering the house and therefore makes the first impression upon them. The lobby entry has a variety of functions. During this period and more specifically as it relates to this plan type, the lobby housed the stair to the upper floors, acted as a weather break between the exterior and inner rooms of the house, and perhaps most importantly, controlled the visitor's experience. If people entering the house at this location only experienced this one space, they would see a space treated highly architecturally: raised and fielded paneling on the walls and underside of the stair carriage, turned balusters, a molded cornice, and likely painted finishes. The rooms east and west of the lobby were the better rooms of the house with those on the

west side being the most formal of the two. This hierarchy to the spaces can be “read” from within the lobby by the doors to each of these rooms. If one looks carefully at the doors to these rooms they will notice the west door is a six-panel door as opposed to a four panel door entering the east room (28). This same detail holds true at the second floor. This slight variation to the language of the architecture signals which space behind this door is the more formal of the two rooms. Owing to the locations, finishes, and spaces opening off of these two rooms, it suggests that the west rooms on the first and second floor were the best parlours and the rooms to the east were what may have functioned as a hall (in the eighteenth century sense of the word) or chamber (sleeping quarters).2 The best parlour as the name suggests was the finest room in the house, often reserved for receiving guests of high social standing, conducting business or ceremonial occasions such as weddings or funerals. The hall served for less formal use. This room may have accommodated more or less daily activities such as eating, common socializing (reading, writing, sewing), and likely sleeping. What separated these rooms from all others (excepting the kitchen) was the presence of a fireplace: a source of both light and heat. If we are to compare these two rooms we will find a number of key differences. First, it must be understood that while the parlour on the first floor remains largely intact, the finishes on the fireplace wall have been replaced, likely during Period III (discussion of these Federal style elements are found below).
2 For a detailed discussion of eighteenth century room names together with their use and function, see Abbott Lowell Cummings, Rural Household Inventories: Establishing the Names, Uses, and Functions of Rooms in the Colonial New England Home, 1675 - 1775,The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (Portland: The Anthoensen Press, 1964), XIII-XL.

Architecturally, the west rooms are finished to a higher degree than their corresponding rooms to the east (47, 60). Here we have the beaufats, flat plaster plaster ceilings (with no indication of the structure present), finely detailed cornices, surbases (the period term for a chair rail), and paneled chimney breasts. Additionally, these rooms contained sliding interior shutters, commonly referred to today as Indian shutters, a misrepresentation of their function (48). These shutters were most likely paneled pieces of stile and rail construction used for privacy and also to help keep out wind and cold. The rooms to the east, while treated very nicely for the period, lack the degree of refinement seen to the west (30, 32, 56, 57). While both the chimney walls are paneled, only the timbers in the first floor room are cased and, unlike in the parlours, project into the room. The timbers at the second floor may have been left exposed likely owing to the location and use of the room. Being the second floor and having use of the parlour, it may very well have been felt that this room did not need to be fitted out to the degree the room below it was. Similarly, both east rooms lack full cornices and the sliding shutters found to the west, further reinforcing the idea that these rooms were less public and more the private domain of the family. In William White’s will he stipulates, “Item I give and bequeath to my well beloved Daughter Sarah Brown my Bed that standeth in the southeast corner of my Great Chamber together with all the furniture belonging to it.” [italics added by author] The term chamber in the eighteenth century commonly referred to a room for sleeping; however, at times, it could also denote a second floor room.3
3 Russell Sturgis in his definitive work, A Dictionary of Architecture and Building: Biographical, Historical, and Descriptive; Volume 1. (The Macmillian Company:1901) 501, defines chamber as, “ the United States it is restricted to the signification of a bedroom.” 22

Cummings in Rural Household Inventories, notes, “The second and third floor when it existed, were almost entirely given over to bed chambers.” What is most interesting is the location of the bed. If this referred to a room other than either of the east rooms, the southeast corner would place the bed in front of a door opening; therefore, one of these two rooms was his “Great Chamber,” used at least partly for sleeping. With respect to sleeping chambers, it is most likely that the small rooms immediately north of the front rooms on both sides of the chimney also served as sleeping chambers.4 Centered in the north side of the house on the first floor lies the Period II kitchen (38-43). Dominating the room is the large cooking hearth with beehive oven on the south wall. This room was essentially the “core” of the house. With six door openings (all opening into this room) and the back stair to the second floor (originally located along the the north wall, east of the doorway), the kitchen was linked to practically all parts of the house. If the house did in fact shelter two or more families during this period of time, such communication would make sense. The vast majority of the existing finishes date to Period II. Of note is the paneling surrounding the fireplace which contains the only Period II mantle shelf found in the house. The vertical boards used in the wainscot are all hand planed and are beaded along both vertical edges, forming a double bead when the two boards are joined side by side.
4 Further investigation onto the use and function of these spaces is necessary to definitively determine the use of these spaces. While it is entirely reasonable these rooms were used for sleeping, they could have potentially served a number of functions.] Both of these rooms on the west side of the house were finely treated with full cornices, surbases, and baseboards. Each room also contained a window in the west wall complete with sliding shutters.

Note, especially on the east wall, that the boards are not uniform along their width (42). Evidence of early graining can be seen under the topcoats of paint. What can be seen of this graining exhibits a somewhat crude nature and may be characteristic of an amateur painter rather than the fine graining found in Period III. The fireplace and oven remain remarkably intact; however, the oven is suffering some deflection in its arched dome. The overall form and treatment of the kitchen fireplace is representative of a mid-eighteenth century cooking fireplace (40, 41). By this point in time, the bake oven is located outside of the firebox and when treated with panel-work, hidden behind a paneled door. The bake oven has its own flue located at the top of the opening to the oven. A removable tin or sheet iron door would have originally been set inside this opening, covering it. When a fire was built to heat the oven, the door would have been kept just to the outside of the flue, allowing it to draw and exhaust the smoke. When the oven was heated and in use, this door would be pushed in until it sat against the projecting course. The cooking hearth retains all of its period details: wrought iron crane used to hang cooking implements from (pots, trammel bars, etc.), an early masonry hearth laid in both brick and stone, and a lathed and plastered chimney lintel. This last feature is exceptionally rare and surprising to see remaining. On the west end of the fireplace opening, the lintel sits on a thin wooden sleeper. While it was originally thought that this member was simply present as a source to fasten nails for hanging objects from, it plays a more functional role. Dr. Abbott Lowell Cummings describes this feature in The Framed House of Massachusetts Bay Colony;

“A still further structural refinement of the lintel occurs at the point of its support within the stack. The lintel ends are not seated directly on the brick piers, but upon thin slabs of softwood, about two inches thick, which extend back into the chimney. While in one or two instances the sleepers as they are called are unexplainably of slate or stone, it is assumed nevertheless that the builders relied on this expedient as a means of assuring some elasticity in movement if the heavy oak lintel, installed green, should warp or twist."5 The rooms in the northwest and northeast corner of the house most likely supported the kitchen and activities performed in the kitchen. Based on the remaining finishes and ghosts in the paint, the northwest room appears to have been unplastered and contained shelves along the north and south walls (44-46). It is quite possible that this room served as the scullery (the period term for a pantry), for the keeping and storage of plates, bowls, cooking implements, etc. The northeast room has been refinished; however, scars in the flooring and sidewalls indicate where a plank wall was originally located (37). Located in the northeast corner of the house, the coolest space owing to the least amount of direct sunlight, this area was traditionally where the buttery or dairy was located. Located immediately adjacent to the kitchen, this space would have provided storage and workspace for dairying activities. As previously mentioned, the second floor of the Period II house was likely devoted to sleeping chambers; however, the north room over the kitchen is curious. The present size of this room is quite large in comparison to the average room size of the period.
5 Cummings, Dr. Abbott Lowell. The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), 122.


While this room may have served as a large sleeping chamber for a number of people, other possibilities exist. Nearly all of the plaster in this room post-dates the Period II improvements. It may be that this space was once partitioned into two or more smaller rooms only to be renovated into a larger single room at a later date. While this is a possibility, one would expect to see some form of evidence for these earlier partitions, such as ghost marks or nail holes in the flooring. An-

other possibility is that the room served a function other than (or in addition to) sleeping. Seventeenth and eighteenth century probate inventories from the area commonly list items such as lumber (the period term for miscellaneous items, generally in storage), barrels, grain, spinning and weaving equipment, tools, etc. stored in upper floor rooms; listed along with these items may be found beds of lesser value, likely children’s or hired help’s bedding.


Figure 22. South facade. The five easternmost bays offer a very accurate representation of how the house appeared after the Period II improvements enlarged and updated the earlier house. The work transformed the house into a fashionable, five bay, center entry, center chimney house. Embellishments included a classical frontispiece and molded window caps (no longer remaining) over the first floor windows.

Figure 23. Pavilion III, University of Virginia, 1822. Typical door architrave. This architrave is shown to provide a comparison to those found in the Handy house. Though later in age, the architrave is composed of similar molding profiles. Notice how generations of paint have distorted the profiles and edges of the moldings, a typical condition found in buildings of this age. .

Figure 24. First floor, lobby entry. Door to Hall (Study). The better rooms and public spaces (i.e,. the lobby entry and stair hall) have double fascia (the flats between the molding profiles) architraves. Double fascia architraves are more formal and decorative than single fascia architraves.

Figure 25. Second floor, Hall Chamber. Single fascia architrave. This architrave is composed of simply a backband with a fillet and cyma applied to the fascia. This woodwork appears to never have had paint applied to it. The T-head wrought nails used to fasten it can be seen along the upper portion of the cyma.

Figure 26.

South facade, east entry.

Figure 27. First floor, lobby entry. Both the spaces and the stair case built during the Period II improvements were finely treated and highly architectural. Aside from paint finishes and early twentieth century repairs to restore the entry, the space appears essentially as it did when it was originally constructed in the mid-eighteenth century.

Figure 28. First floor, lobby entry. Note the difference between the doors to each of the principal ground floor rooms. The door to the parlour (left), the better of the two rooms, has a six panel door as opposed to a slightly simpler four panel door leading into the hall (right). This same treatment occurs on the second floor as well.

Figure 29. First floor, Hall (Study). South wall. One portion of the Period II improvements was to cover the timber structure to hide it from view. In the Hall the posts and summer beam were cased in woodwork and the ceilings were plastered to hide the joists.

Figure 30. First floor, Hall (Study). West wall. Period II paneling and case work. The signature patch of where a thimble for a stove pipe was run indicates a stove was installed here, most likely sometime during the nineteenth century.

Figure 31. First floor, Hall (Study). The fireplaces do not appear to have been significantly altered since their construction. Since fireplaces were originally in constant use, they needed periodic repairs to fix deteriorated brick and mortar. It is likely the masonry here has seen work done to it, but not since the nineteenth century.

Figure 32. First floor, Hall (Study). North wall. The two door openings in this elevation are original to Period II and connected the room to the kitchen and a small room immediately to the north (door to the right). The summer beam spans from front to back walls. A small intermediate post located behind this wall supports it midway through it length.

Figure 33. First floor, Hall (Study). West wall, door to lobby entry. The house has an exceptional collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century hardware. The doors in the "front" area of the house, areas the public would experience, have spring latches with brass handles. This type of latch was more expensive and fashionable than a simpler Suffolk latch found in spaces like the kitchen, buttery, and "back" rooms of the house.

Figure 34. First floor, Old Kitchen. East wall, south door. Botching, the use of leather "washers" placed between the wrought nail and hardware can be seen in a number of locations throughout the house. This is a typical eighteenth century detail used when clenched nails are employed.

Figure 35. First floor, Hall (Study). Door to the kitchen. Representative example of a wrought iron Suffolk latch found throughout the house.

Figure 36. First floor, northeast room (Room 100). Now one single space, in Period II this was divided into two separate rooms by a plank wall located immediately north of the window opening and running in an east/west direction. The room sharing a wall with the Hall likely served a mix of uses including sleeping and the storage of various items.

Figure 37. First floor, northeast room (Room 100). Scar in the floor indicating the location of the plank wall that divided this space in two. The northeast room was likely a buttery and supported the kitchen and cooking/food preparation.

Figure 38. First floor, Old Kitchen. East wall. In Period II each door would have led to the two different rooms described in the previous images. The one-over-one panel door is believed to date to the Period I house and has been retained in its original location.

Figure 39. First floor, Old Kitchen. South wall. The two principal features of the cooking fireplace are the open cook hearth and the bake oven located behind the door left of the hearth. Note the patch where a stove pipe was run through the panel. Unlike the Hall, this room may have had a cast iron cook stove. By the 1830s cook stoves began to replace open hearths. Stoves used less fuel and brought cooking up off the hearth and up to a more comfortable level.

Figure 40. First floor, Old Kitchen. The fireplace retains a number of early details that have not been compromised such as the crane, brick and stone hearth, and brick jambs.

Figure 41. First floor, Old Kitchen. Bake oven. Originally a removable sheet iron door would have covered the opening to the beehive oven to trap the heat in it when in use. When the oven was fired to heat it, the door would be pulled out towards the face of the opening to allow the smoke and heat to go up the flue located near the front of the opening. When in use the door would be pushed in where it would stop against the projecting course of brick (indicated by arrow).

Figure 42. First floor, Old Kitchen. East wall. Detail of the Period II hand planed paneling. Each board is beaded on both edges so when they are fit together the joint where the boards meet is finished with a double bead. The texture on the surface of the boards are the result of the tool marks left by the plane iron used to finish the surface.

Figure 43. First floor, Old Kitchen. North wall. The patch in the wall illustrates the location of a Period II stair that led up to the room above (Room 202).

Figure 44. First floor, Work Room (Room 104). Like the corresponding room on the opposite side of the Old Kitchen, this space was also originally two separate rooms during Period II. The dashed line represents the location of the wall dividing the two rooms. The room to the south (left of the line) was finished with fine woodwork (molded cornice, surbase and base board, sliding shutters). The room north of the line was likely a scullery or pantry. In Period II, windows filled the door openings.

Figure 45. First floor, Work Room (Room 104). The drop in the two ceilings identifies where the wall separating the two rooms was located.

Figure 46. First floor, Work Room (Room 104). West wall. This room is believed to have been some type of service room supporting the kitchen, likely a scullery or pantry. Ghost marks on the walls indicate where shelving was once located (arrow).

Figure 47. First floor, Parlour (Room 105). Both of the beaufats (corner cupboards) date to Period II. The construction of the first floor beaufat is visible from the cellar stairs in the Period III addition.

Figure 48. First floor, Parlour (Room 105). The west wall of the Period II house was built with sliding shutters (commonly referred to as Indian shutters). Used for ventilation, protection from the elements, and privacy rather than protection, only the tracks to the shutters remain.

Figure 49. First floor, Parlour (Room 105). Upper track to the sliding shutter shown in the previous image.

Figure 50.

Stair hall. North wall. Outer door to chimney smoke chamber.

Figure 51. Stair hall. Smoke chamber. The inner door seen at the right of the image is lath and plastered on its back side. Meat or fish would have been hung in here and smoked as the fires in the adjacent fireplaces were used. Note the nailers to to the left and rear of the space.


Figure 52. Stair hall. Smoke chamber. This opening at the bottom of the east wall of the chamber allowed smoke to enter the space and pass up and out through a flue at the top of the chamber.

Figure 53. Cellar stairs. This space located within the chimney mass was used to store food items. Given its location -- surrounded by three fireplaces -- it may be that in winter months this space was used to store items one wanted to protect from freezing (milk, cream, molasses), a common problem that had to be dealt with in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Figure 54. Second floor, Stair hall. The design and execution of the staircase is exceptional. The newels, balusters, and molded stringers run from the first floor to the attic level. Such a high level of treatment continued throughout its length may have been because it was expected to be seen by individuals other than the family.

Figure 55. Second floor, Stair hall. This detail of the turnings on the balusters shows the slight differences between each as a result of their being individually hand turned. Again, note how sharp the profiles are.

Figure 56. Second floor, Hall Chamber (Room 201). West wall. The paneling on this wall does not appear to have ever been painted. The surface has a natural, oxidized patina generated simply from age.

Figure 57. Second floor, Hall Chamber (Room 201). west wall, detail of paneling. Where one would expect to see pegs used to fasten the paneling's joinery, none are visible. The construction of the paneling follows eighteenth century practice of coped joints and all of the material is hand planed. All of the applied moldings are fastened with wrought nails and the paneling itself is nailed to the plank wall behind it with Thead wrought nails.

Figure 58. Second floor. Hall Chamber (Room 201). Detail of chimneypiece. A section of bolection molding was removed to examine the type of fasteners used to apply it and the paneling to the backup wall. Both elements are fastened with T-head wrought nails.

Figure 59. Second floor, Old Bedroom (Room 202). A back stair between this room and the kitchen below was built as part of the Period II work. It has not been determined when exactly these stairs were closed up. They do not appear in Abbott Smith's photographs of the house, however, they may have been removed well before that.

Figure 60. Second floor, Parlour (Room 205). East wall. Like the architraves described earlier, the paneling in this room has very few paint finishes applied to it resulting in sharp, clean profiles and details.

Figure 61. Attic, southwest of east chimney. The Period II ceilings are hung from nailers attached to the joists by short lengths of wood. The nailers run perpendicular to the joists and hang down low enough to clear the lowest portion of framing (girts, summer beams, plates) so they are concealed when the plaster is applied.

Figure 62. Attic. North plate at west end of Period II house. When the Period I house was enlarged, the wall plate (the horizontal timber that forms the top of the wall structure) was lengthened by half lapping a new section (red arrow) onto the existing (white arrow) plate. Immediately above the white arrow is the peg hole for the rising brace seen in the north wall of Room 202.

Figure 63. Attic, north of east chimney. The ceiling framing west of the chimney tie beam (indicated by arrow) had to be reconfigured because the sister tie beam to this one (at the west end of the Period I house) was removed and the house lengthened. The Period 1 joists were shorter than this span, so new joists were introduced, set perpendicular from the the original joists and lower to accommodate the Period II ceiling height.

Figure 64

Period III c.1812 - 1911 Past research indicates that the house was sold out of the White family in 1794, at which time it was purchased by Dr. Eli Handy, a Westport physician. Dr. Handy lived in the house with his family until his death in 1812, leaving behind his wife, Mary and three children: a son, James Harvey, and two daughters, Polly and Hannah. Dr. Handy’s will gave his son James possession of his property with the terms that he shelter and support his mother “so long as she shall remain my widow.” Additionally, James is responsible for providing the same for his sisters until they married.6 James married Hope White (a great-greatgranddaughter of William White Senior, who owned the land the house was built on) in August 1817. As previously speculated, it is most likely that at this time or shortly thereafter, the west build occurs. The Period III improvements largely consist of adding to the house an attached three bay, side hall, dwelling. The addition was finished entirely in Federal style details, nearly all of which survive today. It also appears that at this time (or very shortly after it), the east wall of the first floor parlour (Room 105) was refinished, replacing what was there with the current mantle and plaster finishes (90, 91). Spatially and architecturally, the interior of the west addition remains largely unchanged, offering a unique opportunity to experience an early nineteenth century dwelling of this type, but more importantly, the continuing evolution of the house in response to changes in owners, occupants and social customs. The Federal style marked a conscious shift in American architecture away from traditional
6 Suzanne Abel, The White-Handy House of Westport, Massachusetts. Photocopy, Westport Historical Society: (Brown University, 1977) 24. 47

English models into a refined version of neoclassicism. Popular in the northeast of the United States roughly between 1785 and 1825, the Federal style (originating from the term Federalist) is associated with the upper social classes making up the mercantile elite in and around the seaport towns of New England whose dwellings introduced this form of design to this country. Growing out of Georgian classicism, the Federal style was not a complete departure from the design trends familiar to most people; it was rather a refinement of them. While still utilizing classical principles (bilateral symmetry, harmonious proportioning, and ornament), all work began to become more restrained and reduced down to its finest and simplest form. So, instead of large bold elements and details characteristic of the Georgian style, in Federal design we find light, subtle ornament. At a vernacular level, the Federal style took its cue from high style architecture of the era, blended with traditional regional practices and materials. It is this form we find in the Period III addition of the Handy house. With the exception of the Dutch door in the dining room and the recreated entry door and frontispiece in the stair hall, nearly all of the remaining woodwork and much of the plaster dates to the construction of the building (68, 69, 71, 73, 78, 80, 81). While these are excellent examples of period moldings, architraves, hardware, and mantle pieces in their own right, they become even more interesting when one begins to compare them with their counterparts in the Period II part of the house. Unlike the Period II house, where nearly all the materials used were produced through craft-based skills (hand wrought nails and hardware, water struck brick, hewn timbers), here in the Period III house we begin to see the emergence of more sophisticated building technology. Features such as iron rim locks, cast brass Norfolk latches (with turned knobs), cast iron butt hinges, and Rumford fireplaces are representative of the

Figure 65

shift away from strictly handmade products and the emergence of machine-produced items (70, 84). The plan of the Period III addition is a variation of a type common to urban townhouses of this period and the preceding decades (64, 65). The first floor of a three bay townhouse is commonly divided between a stair hall, generally located off to one side (hence side hall), filling one bay and a public space, often a parlour or double parlours, filling the width of the remaining two bays (66). Here, the first floor contains the stair hall, dining room, and kitchen. Off the dining room remains a china closet in surprisingly complete condition; likewise, the pantry/washroom off the kitchen is equally remarkable to have survived (74, 76, 77). This space retains its builtin cabinetry including a period dry sink. Of interest here is how, yet again, the house is subdivided to allow for an additional family unit to live under the same roof, while affording privacy from the remaining part of the house. Whether this privacy was because the eastern part of the house was used for Dr. Handy’s practice, the dwelling house of family members, or a combination of both, is a topic of further research; however, the presence of two separate kitchens suggests additional occupants. At the time the addition was built, it is unlikely that the room currently called the dining room would have solely been used for dining (68). That is not to say it didn't serve as a place to eat, it likely did; however, it probably functioned as a parlor/sitting room as well. Family letters and/or a probate inventory identifying furniture that was located in this room would help illustrate its use. The design of dining tables of the period commonly allowed them to be stored with ease. Made up of at least two pieces, the tops were made to tilt to a vertical position allowing them to be stored

against an outside wall or in a stair hall until needed, freeing up the room for other functions. With the china closet just off the room, there may not have been a need for a sideboard, further freeing space for a settee or desk. What can be glimpsed of the original room reveals a tasteful and fashionable space for the period. Note, unlike the Period II house, no aspect of the building’s structure is visible in the room. Surfaces are flat with decorative treatments reserved to openings: doors, windows and the fireplace. The composition of the north wall strives for symmetry, with the fireplace flanked by doors to each side. A surbase and baseboard help divide the wall plane as well as protecting the plaster from furniture placed and stored up against it (69). Owing to the period and function of the room, it is possible the walls were originally covered in wallpaper rather than simply being painted. If one takes a close study of the moldings used here (as well as elsewhere through this portion of the house), one will observe two characteristics that set them apart from elsewhere in the house. To start, the profiles of the moldings here are elliptical or based on portions of an ellipse unlike the Period II house where they are based on the circle (71, 73, 79, 80, 81, 88). Additionally, the moldings used to make up the architraves and surbases are smaller and more delicate in scale than their eighteenth century counterparts. While one would expect the second floor to be devoted to sleeping chambers, which very well may have been the case, other possibilities existed. While further research into this topic is necessary, it may be that the south room on the second floor served as a sitting room or common parlor, and the north room served as a bed chamber. As for additional sleeping quarters, these could have been located in the eastern part of the house.

Figure 66. Plate 52, Plan and Elevation for a Town House. Asher Benjamin, The American Builder's Companion, . Third Edition, 1816. Representative example of a side hall plan.


It is interesting to see that the Period III kitchen does not vary terribly much from the open cooking hearth found in the Period II house (75). Kitchens at this period of time, especially in urban locations or of a grander house, would be beginning to see considerable changes occurring. Around the first quarter of the nineteenth century we begin to see the introduction of cellar cisterns with hand pumps in the kitchen, set kettles for the boiling of water, and the advent of the cast iron cook stove which eventually does away with the open hearth and bee hive oven. This kitchen, like its earlier counterpart, is in close communication with all adjacent spaces. Six door openings directly connect this room to each surrounding room. The two

door openings on the east wall tell us there was direct access to the small rooms in the west part of the earlier house. Both of these doorways were created with the construction of the Period III house, likely modifying existing window openings. The two separate door openings indicate these rooms remained independent of each other at this time. Of these two rooms, the south space would have become “land locked”; that is to say it wouldn't have had any exterior walls and therefore no windows. With no natural light or means of ventilation one wonders if this room took on a new use after the Period III improvements were made. Identical changes on the corresponding second floor rooms took place at the same time.

Figure 67. Cellar. Period III addition. The flooring here is gauged and undercut to counter irregularities in the joists so it would lay flat. Gauging refers to the planed edges of the boards which established a uniform depth along each edge without having to plane the entire board. Undercutting was the process of removing the wood at the locations where the joists were located to allow the floor boards to sit evenly.


Figure 68. First floor. Dining room (Room 109). View looking southwest. Like the parlours in the Period II house, this space functioned as the best room of the Period III house. The details throughout this room are typical of the Federal style and provide an interesting contrast to the Georgian features of the Period II house.

Figure 69. First floor. Dining Room (Room 109). North wall. The Period III addition is finished using an markedly different vocabulary and application of decorative details. Compare this wall here with the chimneypiece of Room 205.

Figure 70. First floor. Dining Room (Room 109). Iron rim locks were installed on select doors in the Period III house. More advanced than the spring latch used in the Period II house, this piece of hardware could be locked with a key from either side of the door or secured on the lock side of the room by sliding the privacy bolt located on the underside of the lock

Figure 71. First floor. Dining Room (Room 109). Northeast corner. The surbase is made up of multiple narrow molding profiles to form one complex element. This same technique is used on the mantel shelves in this part of the house.

Figure 72. First floor. Dining room (Room 109). A number of the materials in the Period III addition reflect advances made in building technology at the start of the nineteenth century. Note how uniform the flooring here is compared to the older part of the house.

Figure 73. First floor. Dining room (Room 109). The architraves and decorative woodwork in this portion of the house reflect common Federal style profiles typical of the period. These profiles tend to be finer and more delicate than the Georgian profiles elsewhere in the house. Note the splay to the window jamb.

Figure 74. First floor. China Storage (Room 110). Detail of grained drawers. Secondary spaces such as this, in houses of this scale and age, are relatively rare to find intact. The drawers, graining and brass knobs are original to the construction.

Figure 75. First floor. New Kitchen (Room 106). The kitchen retains its period cooking hearth and bake oven. The wrought iron hooks in the ceiling are original to the space. Their exact use is open to speculation.

Figure 76. First floor. Pantry (Room 108). This small service room to the kitchen still retains its dry sink and shelving. Like the China Storage room (Room 110), it is rare to find spaces such as this completely intact. These ancillary spaces help illustrate the complete story of how nineteenth century domestic spaces were used.

Figure 77. First floor. Pantry (Room 108). This shows the upper shelves of the pantry, all of which are original to the Period III build.

Figure 78. First floor. Stair hall (Room 107). The Period III staircase is a reserved representation of a typical Federal style stair. The overall design is more characteristic of what is commonly found in country or rural areas.

Figure 79. First floor. Stair hall (Room 107). Detail of newel post. The general form of the staircase is rather simple: a straight run with a quarter turn at the top. It is the details applied to the stair that reveal its style, such as these delicate cymas and astragals.

Figure 80. First floor. Stair hall (Room 107). Example of a Federal style double fascia architrave. Compare to Figure 24.

Figure 81. First floor. Pantry (Room 108). Example of a Federal style single fascia architrave. Compare to Figure 25.

Figure 82. First floor. Stair hall, door between rooms 205 and 207. Detail of panel on door to Room 109. Though over-painted, the ghost of the earlier grained finish can be seen telegraphing through. It is likely all of the doors in the public spaces of the house were originally grained.

Figure 83. Second floor. New Front Bedroom (Room 209). General view of the room looking north.

Figure 84. Second floor. New Back Bedroom (Room 206). This variation of a Norfolk latch has a cast brass handle and brass mechanism to it. This latch is an excellent comparison to the Suffolk and spring latches found in the Period II house.

Figure 85. Second floor. New Back Bedroom (Room 206). Mechanism to the latch shown above. Note the fine cable molding turned on the handle of the latch.


Figure 86. Second floor. New Front Bedroom (Room 209). The mantel here is a classic example of a typical Federal style mantel more common to country and rural areas than urban. What makes this piece most interesting, as well as the whole room, is that the woodwork has had only one coat of paint applied to it.

Figure 87. Second floor. New Front Bedroom (Room 209). East door to passage. Typical six panel door found in the Period III house. Like the rest of the woodwork in the room, the door and architrave only have a single coat of paint. This is a good representation of an intact Federal period door. It is outfitted with cast iron butt hinges, and an iron rimlock.

Figure 88. Second floor. New Front Bedroom (Room 209). East door to passage. Detail of door architrave. This room contains an interesting style of Federal architrave, where reeding is used between the two fascias of the element. This architrave is used on both the doors and windows.

Figure 89. Second floor. New Back Bedroom (Room 206). View looking west. The unusual composition of the mantel in this room is typical of country interpretations of stylistic details and adapting them to fit specific spaces or dimensions.

Figure 90. First floor. Parlour (Room 105). East wall. The mantel, and likely a portion of the surrounding wall, was changed out and updated with a Federal style mantel. Note how the design of this mantel is more similar in style with those found in the Period III addition rather than the Period II house.

Figure 91. First floor. Parlour (Room 105). East wall. Detail of the Federal style mantel. Beside the mantel shelf in the Old Kitchen, this is the only mantel in the Period II house with a shelf.

Figure 92. South facade, looking northwest. c. 1900. This pre-Abbott Smith era (Period IV) photograph shows the window in place at the west end of the first floor. Note the weathered, and in some areas, missing, shingles.

Figure 93. South facade, looking northeast. c. 1900. The poor condition of the shingles is readily visible in this view. Note the missing shingles at the top of the east chimney. Of interest is the method used to flash the base of this chimney. Commonly referred to as "pan flashing" today, this method of flashing was a detail commonly seen along coastal New England and especially in the Cape Cod area.

Period IV 1911 - 1937 The purchase of the house in 1911 by Abbott P. Smith of New Bedford, Massachusetts and the changes made to it in the years to follow, result in an interesting transition away from its traditional use as a dwelling house to the beginnings of its recognition as a historic site, albeit in a very much Colonial Revival fashion. Historic photographs of the house predating 1911 show the building in a deteriorated condition (92, 93). Abbott Smith’s repairs and renovations to the house likely saved it from being lost to the pages of history.7 The Smith period of ownership is curious. His improvements brought the house up to a livable condition, modernized it to a certain degree, and added living space. The photographs of the interior show the rooms furnished in antiques, largely early New England pieces spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries mixed with some twentieth century pieces (99-104). The whole appearance is quintessentially Colonial Revival in flavor. The breadth and volume of the collection -- the pieces range from fragments of floor cloth, cooking implements, numerous tables, chairs, and chests -- beg the question as to whether the house was yet another colonial acquisition; both an object and a backdrop for other objects. This may explain why the interior was treated so sensitively yet liberties taken on the exterior of the house. Further research should be performed on the Smith period of ownership to better understand and explain this era. While Smith’s exterior improvements significantly altered the exterior of the house, work
7 For a discussion and background on Abbott Smith see Families that owned the Handy House Property (unpublished manuscript, Westport Historical Society collections). 65

performed on the interior appears to have been largely cosmetic in nature, dealing primarily with plaster surfaces, wallpapers, and paint finishes. A nearly room-by-room collection of interior photographs and several exterior images of the house taken during this period provides a valuable archive for understanding the use and appearance of the house during Smith’s period of ownership. Luckily, much of Smith’s work added to the building rather than subtracted from it, resulting in the core of the historic house being preserved. Smith’s work on the exterior of the house included building the dormers on the roof (essentially adding a third floor) and constructing the porch on the front (south) side of the house (97, 98). This latter improvement included filling in the bulkhead located at the far west window bay on the front of the building and relocating it to its present location. The window here was then changed into a Dutch door.8 The Georgian frontispieces and doors were removed and replaced with eight-panel doors set in frames with three-quarter length sidelights (106, 107). It is believed that a number of the first floor window frames and sashes were also changed out at this time, especially along the south facade of the house. Images of the south facade taken prior to the work performed by Smith show the early Period II plank frame windows with molded caps. In the photographs following the addition of the front porch, the window frames no longer have these caps (107). Smith likely had a significant amount of repair work done to the framing of the building in conjunction with residing portions of the building. Images from 2003 of the south side of the building with its siding removed show
8 The opening for the original bulkhead can been seen in the cellar wall, where it has simply been filled with stone.

Figure 94. North facade, looking southeast. c. 1900. Both entries have board and batten doors. A strap hinge (likely wrought iron) is visible near the top of the east door. The east entry is treated with a simple surround made from flat stock with a small cap at the top of the opening. Note the scuttle in the roof next to the chimney.

Figure 95. Detail of image above showing the east door and surround. A door closes some type of opening above the west door. Two strap hinges are mounted on the right side of it and a latch can be seen on the left of it. This feature disappears during Smith's period of occupancy.

at least four generations of sheathing boards on the building.9 In this image, horizontal boards cover the area between the two early door openings; repairs here likely required the removal of a significant amount of the vertical sheathing. Interior photographs from Smith's occupancy also reveal that at least two of the rising braces (both on the east side of the building) had been removed by this time, further suggesting extensive structural repairs performed by Smith at this time (96). On the interior, Smith introduced the door opening between the second floor southeast chamber and the northeast room (104). It may very well be Smith who removed the walls in the first and second floor rooms between the Period III house and the old kitchen
9 Pete Baker in discussion with the author. Baker explained a number of framing repairs were found when the exterior siding was stripped in 2003. This included replacing portions of the original plank frame with conventional stud carpentry.

on the first floor and bedroom on the second (Rooms 104 and 204 ). The basis for this speculation relates to the introduction of electricity and plumbing to the house. A number of the interior photographs show surface mounted wiring housed in wood molding , ceiling fixtures, and outlets. While no plumbing is shown, it is reasonable to believe, owing to the extent of work performed on the building, that running water, sinks and toilets would have been added at this time. The logical location for a toilet and tub would be one of these small rooms. Systems that required fixed elements, drain pipes, septic lines, chimneys, etc., commonly have a “memory”, that is to say, while they periodically get updated through time, they maintain their locations and/or footprints. It is not unreasonable to believe that the first bathroom in the house was located in one of these two rooms.

Figure 96. Second floor. Room 200, left and Room 201, right. c. 1900. Note how both sets of rising braces are visible in each image. Both east braces (in the image on the left, it is the right brace, and in the image on the right, the left brace) no longer exist (or they are buried under later plaster). They are not seen in the Smith period photographs, indicating they were removed during work performed by him.

Figure 97. View looking northeast. c. 1920. This photograph provides a good illustration of Abbott Smith's exterior improvements. Staining along the eave of the dormer roof suggests by the time this photo was taken they had existed for a while. The size of the south porch is considerable. Note the relocated bulkhead and the door in the gable of the roof.

Figure 98. View looking south. c. 1920. Compare this to the c. 1900 image. Note the new east door and the hood over the west door. The door on the second floor over the west entry is no longer present.

Figure 99. The New Kitchen (Room 106). c. 1915. Electrical wiring was run in surface mounted moldings that hid the wires from view. Smith likely installed the cook stove we see here. A gas cook stove can be seen up against the wall. Note the paneled doors above the fireplace opening. A fragment of floor cloth is under the table.

Figure 100. Northeast room (Room 100). c. 1915. By this time the wall has been removed that once divided this space. The scar of it can be seen on the ground. The bed is actually longer than the earlier room was wide.

Figure 101. The Hall/Study (Room 101). c. 1915. View of the east wall without the Tripp era (Period V) book cases.

Figure 102. The Hall/Study (Room 101). c. 1915. View of the south and west walls. The sidelights and woodwork of the Smith period doorway can be seen here.

Figure 103. Parlor (Room 105). The door into Room 104 remains at this time. Note the finish scheme of the room, light colors for both the woodwork and the wallpapers. It does not appear that Smith ran electricity throughout the entire house. He may have limited it to only the Period III addition and adjacent spaces.

Figure 104. Hall Chamber (Room 201). Note none of the woodwork is painted. Smith introduced the door at the right of the image leading into Room 200. The fireplace opening is covered over. The floor is not painted at this time.

Figure 105. View looking east. This photograph was taken shortly after the dormer and porch were removed from the building as evidenced by the bare lawn in front of the house where the porch was located and the unweathered shingles on the south facade. Note the gable door was retained.

Figure 106. View looking northwest. It appears the first phase of exterior work was limited to removing the dormers and porch. The Smith period doors surrounds still survive.

Period V 1937 - 2010. The purchase of the house by Louis and Florence Tripp in 1937 and the occupancy of it by Louis and his second wife, Hilma Eleanor Swanteson Tripp (hereafter Eleanor Tripp), marks the final period the house was permanently occupied. In the grand scheme of things, it appears that the Tripps did little to the house other than undoing some changes introduced by Abbott Smith and updating portions of the interior of the house. All of the work performed by the Tripps respected the integrity of the building and were by far positive improvements. Louis Tripp’s and his workers' attention to detail and methodical approach to working on the house are commendable. During an era saturated by improvements in building materials, technologies, and creature comforts, the Tripps essentially preserved the house as an artifact, while

at the same time using it for its original intended purpose: a domestic residence. As previously stated, the obvious exterior changes made by the Tripps include the removal of the dormers and the front porch from the house (105-108). The removal of the dormers necessitated reframing the entire roof structure. In a letter to his contractor, Louis was careful to point out that a pair of original rafters remained in the attic and should be used as the basis for the rest of the roof. Demolition of the front porch exposed Abbott’s altered front doors and frames. Again, Louis based his repairs on earlier evidence, this time photographs, as a means of accurately restoring elements missing from the building. Curiously he retained the later door opening at the west end of the front facade, a feature he surely would have known was later (106, 108).

Figure 107. View looking northeast. These photographs were likely taken shortly after the repairs were completed by the Tripps. This photograph provides a good look at the Smith period door surround and window frames. Note the bare lawn in front of the house.

Figure 108. View looking northeast. Later than the previous photos, minor landscaping improvements consist of the trellis at the west door and shrubs around the perimeter of the house.

Figure 109. Hall/Study (Room 101). The addition of the built-in book shelves by the Tripps turned this space into the Study. This room remains virtually unchanged.

On the interior of the house, it appears work largely focused on updating services and finishes. In a transcribed interview with Eleanor Tripp, she referenced some of the services in the house. She described how the Period III addition to the house was heated by a hot air furnace (presumably located in the cellar) with a single register located in the stair hall. This type of heating system no longer remains in the house. Instead, the same area is warmed by a hot-water system utilizing cast iron radiators to radiate heat to individual rooms on both floors on the west side of the house. The style of the radiators suggests they date to sometime around the second quarter of the twentieth century. Eleanor also mentioned how she and Louis updated the wiring in the house, replacing

what was there with BX cable -- better known as metal sheathed or armored wire -- likely expanding the service, while at the same time, as she rightly noted, safeguarding it from rodents that might chew at the insulation. Depending on exactly when the Tripps installed this, it would make most of the wiring in the house somewhere in the area of 60 to 70 years old. Comparing interior photographs from the Smith and Tripp eras together with present day conditions, it is evident that the interior decorative finishes (wallpaper and painted surfaces) in some rooms changed more than once (110). With the exception of the second floor parlour, it appears as if the Tripps removed all of the wallpaper hung by Smith and replaced it with patterns of their choice. Pho-

Figure 110. Parlour (Room 105). Two details in this photograph are interesting. The door once located where the highboy is placed no longer exists. Also, note the table lamp plugged into a wall outlet. The Tripps expanded the electrical service to greater parts of the house than previously served.

Figure 111. Hall/Study Chamber (Room 201). West wall. Compared to the Smith period photograph of this elevation, little has changed except the wallpaper has been removed and the fireplace has been opened.

Figure 112. Hall/Study Chamber (Room 201). Southeast corner post. Compare this photograph to the similar view in the previous section. The opposite rising corner brace has been removed and new plaster applied.


tographs of the first floor parlour show the walls painted solid at one point and papered at another; today they are simply painted white. Eleanor made note in her interview that she painted the floors with the spatter dash finish. It is difficult to clearly discern, but a number of the floors in the Abbott Smith photographs do not appear to be painted. It may have been Eleanor that painted the floors throughout much of the house. The most noticeable addition made to the interior by the Tripps was the construction of the bookshelves in the southeast room turning this space into the library (109). The construction of the bookshelves is independent of the wall surfaces and finishes and can be

easily removed without damage to the building. While they tell part of the story of the history of the house, their removal would bring the room back to its eighteenth century appearance. The work discussed in the paragraphs above describe the obvious improvements performed by the Tripps; it goes without question that numerous repairs have also been made that are either buried behind finished surfaces or too subtle to readily discern. What is most telling about their commitment to the house is how well it was kept up; a daunting task owing to the size and age of the building.


Figure 113. Second floor. Hall Chamber (Room 201). Record photograph of lifted floor board showing south end of timber.

Figure 114. Second floor. Hall Chamber (Room 201). Record photograph of lifted floor board showing north end of timber.


Inspection of Probes In July 2011, floor boards were lifted in three areas of the house to inspect the structure owing to deflections present in the floors. Floor boards were lifted in the second floor of the house in the Hall Chamber (Room 201), the Old Bedroom (Room 202), and the north bedchamber in the Period III addition (Room 206). The author inspected two of the three probes (Rooms 201 and 202); the third had been closed up and was not accessible for viewing. The following paragraphs document what was learned from inspecting these probes. Hall Chamber - Room 201 This probe revealed structural modifications made to the framing system as part of the Period II improvements to accommodate the new hearth and chimney mass. The original (Period I) floor joists would have spanned between the two summer beams located in the middle bay of the house. The timber we see running from the south (front) girt to a trimmer at the north end of the room was inserted because these joists had to be shortened as a result of the new chimney mass and stair hall interrupting their original span (113). To accomplish this, the trimmer at the north end was added (necessitating the removal of the adjacent floor joist, as evidenced by empty joist pockets), allowing the new carrying timber to be joined and supported at each end (114, 115). The joint here is a half dovetail; the design of this joint allows it to accomplish a number of requirements. First, it can be dropped down into its corresponding mortises; this allows it to be used within a confined space. Second, the splay of the dovetail resists tensile forces and prevents the timber from pulling out of its mortise. And lastly, the mass

of the joint allows it to carry loads effectively without failing. On the east side of this timber, the original floor joists were shortened in length and reused. On the west side, new floor joists were added in addition to the trimmers which frame the sides of the hearth. Incorporated into this work is a fair amount of salvage material (Period I fabric) used primarily as nailers; however, the south trimmer for the hearth is also salvage. This reused material is located mostly in the area south of the hearth under the wall between the chamber and stair hall. Much of this material is whitewashed. In order to hide as much of this framing so as not to be seen from below, the lath was hung from nailers fastened to boards applied to the sides of the joists as part of the Period II improvements. Because the joists are shallow, boards have been added to their sides which hang down below the bottom of the added timber, allowing the lath and plaster to be installed over it and hiding this member from sight. Some of the nailers used in this system have a smooth, oxidized surface and may be from Period I partitions removed during this phase of work.


Figure 115. Second floor. Hall Chamber (Room 201). Half dovetail joint used on the north end of the timber added to carry the floor joists.

Figure 116. Second floor. Hall Chamber (Room 201). Southeast corner. Remnants of an early paint finish remain on original Period II plaster protected by a baseboard applied in the twentieth century.


Old Bedroom - Room 202 Removal of the floor board at this location revealed a number of interesting details. Most readily visible is the smoke stained surface on the underside of the floorboards, the floor joists and girt: all Period I fabric (117, 118). As seen elsewhere, the joists are planed and chamfered. Aside from confirming the Period I framing was exposed to the interior, it informs us that at least one fireplace was located in the near vicinity of this framing. The unstained surface of the joist to the south is believed to be a result of it originally being covered by vertical paneling. One remaining nail and a series of nail holes along the joist, in addition to a ghost on a trimmer are all that remain of this feature. This trimmer runs between two joist bays and is joined into them (this is illustrated in the framing as shown in Figure 5). The underside of the floorboards on the west side of the trimmer are smoke stained; those on the east side are not, suggesting an opening between the two floors that was later filled in. By the width of the opening and it being properly framed out, this

may be the location of the (or a) Period I stair between the two floors; further investigation into this is necessary. The framing on what would be to the south of the paneled wall mentioned above is whitewashed. This would seem to suggest this area marks a clear division in the Period I house here, nearly at the center line of the east/west axis of the house. Close inspection of the west side of the girt revealed a clear delineation on its surface where the timber was exposed versus being covered, suggesting this may be where one end of the chimney mass was located (120, 121). A portion of the girt here is smoke stained like the surrounding material, then it abruptly changes to a relatively clean surface. This, in combination with the tie beam above only being chamfered on the east side (suggesting the west side was not to be seen, and the arrangement of the joist pockets found on the upper side of the tie beam above, strongly

Figure 117. Second floor. Old Bedroom (Room 202). Record photograph of the lifted floor boards, looking southeast.

Figure 118. Second floor. Old Bedroom (Room 202). The smoke stained floor joists are Period I material. Part of the Period II improvements included adding plaster ceilings throughout the house. To hide the large, Period I summer beams, the lath and plaster system had to be applied below the bottom edge of these timbers. The solution was to hang nailers off the joists and apply the lath and plaster to these instead of directly to the underside of the joists.

Figure 119. Second floor. Old Bedroom (Room 202). Detail at north end of lifted floor board. This is the southwest corner of the stair opening showing the molded skirt board let into the outside face of the board that frames the opening.


favor this being the location of the Period I chimney mass. It was also observed that when the Period II chimney was constructed here, it required removing the southern portion of the Period I girt that ran through where the chimney currently passes up through (130, 132). To execute this, a trimmer was inserted running east-west to support the cut end of the girt. The north end of this probe abuts the closedin Period II stair opening visible in the floor. A short length of molded skirting remains fastened to the outside (south) face of the opening’s frame (119). This fragment has decorative profiles planed onto both edges of the element just as the skirting on the main stair has. It is interesting to see that this element is let into the board framing the stair opening allowing it to be in the same plane as the stringer it was attached to. A layer of fine sand covers the top side of the lath and plaster (118). How and why this is here is unknown. Its characteristics and the debris found in it (bits of sea weed, sea grass, and shell) suggests it is beach sand. This sand could only have been introduced from the topside of the space, after the lath and plaster was installed. Its distribution is relatively uniform throughout the cavity (with the exception of a later repair where the lath and plaster was replaced), and is present under the flooring to the east that has not been disturbed. In Susanna Whatman's housekeeping hook she instructed house maids, "To use as little soap as possible (if any) in scouring rooms. Fullers earth and fine sand preserves the col10 Whatman, Susanna. The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman, 1776-1800 (London: Butler & Tanner, 1956), 17. 11 Nylander, Jane. Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home: 1760-1860 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994), 118-119. 83

or of the boards, and does not leave a white appearance as soap does. All the rooms to be dry scrubbed with white sand." 10 More recently, Jane Nylander discusses the cleaning of floors in her book Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home 1760-1860. In the chapter titled "Scrubbing and Scouring,'" she cites a number of references that mention the use of sand for cleaning. One is by a young girl, Susan Blunt in New Hampshire (1830s), she wrote concerning a house she used to call at "it was so very clean, the chairs, table, floor and all the woodwork was unpainted and was kept white by being scoured with sand." In another reference Nylander writes of a kitchen floor where the sand was spread so thick a little boy could be pulled "across the freshly sanded floor upon his tiny sled." She also writes that sand was sometimes spread upon a floor and brushed into ornamental patterns as a decorative covering.11 A small piece (approximately 1 ¼” long) of lead came, the material used to fix the panes of window glass together prior to wood sash, was found in the sand. While only a fragment and not enough to base the window type of the Period I house on, it is an interesting artifact and likely dates to the seventeenth century or very early eighteenth century. The lath and plaster system here is typical of the method used in the house during the Period II improvements (118). Short lengths of wood are fastened to the sides of the floor joists and hand down to receive a narrow board run perpendicular to the joists. The laths are run so they span across these boards allowing the plaster to cover over the structure above.



Figure 120. Second floor. Old Bedroom (Room 202). Looking east. A number of significant pieces of information are found here. Note the difference in the condition of the surface of the girt (A), the alignment of the floor joists (B), and the south end (at right) of the girt (C) where it meets the wall. All three of these details correspond to the removal of the Period I chimney and introduction of the Period II chimney.

Figure 121. Second floor. Old Bedroom (Room 202). Looking east. Detail of "A" identified above. The surface of the girt right of the middle joist was protected by the chimney mass and not exposed to the interior of the house, protecting it from being dirtied. Notice how the Period II joists (bottom half of photo) are offset from the period I joists (top half), detail "B" above. These joist pockets were cut in as part of the Period II work and did not follow the exact layout of the orignal framing.



Figure 122. Second floor. Old Bedroom (Room 202). South end of girt, detail "C". The Period I girt in this bent passed through where the Period II chimney is located. When this chimney was built, the girt was cut and joined to a new trimmer (D) that framed the opening for the chimney to pass up through. The arrow is pointing to the joint used to connect the two timbers, most likely a half dovetail.

Figure 123. Second floor. Old Bedroom (Room 202). Under flooring, south trimmer. This recycled piece of wood used as a nailer is covered in red paint. It appears weathered and may be a piece of Period I exterior woodwork salvaged and reused during the Period II improvements.



Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.