Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Examining the Chimney

May 18

Today an architectural historian from the University of Delaware visited the Amstel House at our request to take a look at our weird chimney.

We started out with a basic review of the house's layout in general, discussed travel patterns through the house, and spent a fair amount of time looking at the exterior brickwork and the interior back wall of the fireplace. That will be my job on the 19th.

She had several questions about the patterns of movement throughout the house, particularly in the kitchen wing that we will try to shed some light on as we discover more architectural evidence during this project.

Regarding the chimney and fireplace itself...

She agreed that its not typical chimney construction. She suggested that we take lots of photos with tape measures in view, take detailed measurements of the chimney structure and draw plans for in cross section.

She raised a question as to whether our second floor corner fireplace might have been added to the original design as an afterthought, or even after the kitchen fireplace and chimney had been completely built (As it turns out, our mason would independently pose the same questions to me a couple days later - more on that in a future post.)

She spent a fair amount of time looking at the back wall of the fireplace and in particular at an area where several brick joints seemed to line up vertically with each other. She questioned whether that part of the wall had ever been rebuilt and whether the oven may have been moved at some point.

Outside, beneath the eaves on all three walls of the kitchen wing, there appears to be recent (not 18th century) work on the bricks directly beneath the roof. She asked if the roof had ever been rebuilt. Her observation of the brickwork, in combination with sawn rafters visible in the attic, and our documentation about a new roof added in the 1870s all seem to support a case for a new roof line. In addition, there is a ghost line on the rear wall of the main house that indicates that the roof line changed (this is not visible from the ground).

More soon...

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