Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

I have had little time to write lately; too busy writing. A promised chapter about architecture for a book on Prince Edward County has forced me into an uncharacteristically disciplined month. Now the fact that this discipline has demanded reading and research and numerous road trips to take photos would suggest that I cannot call in too much sympathy. Granted.

But the voyage has not been without its tragic losses.

Today I feel I need to be among friends who understand.

This little house, the Mouck House of South Marysburgh, was built around 1836.
PJ Stokes figured it was the oldest house in the township.
The fact that it was brick, at a time when brick was used mostly in big houses of well-off folks, tells you just how proud the folks were of their little house.

But what I loved about the little house was that it showed me its brick heart...well, it showed anyone who cared to look, its brick heart. The side wall shows the way early builders used reject bricks (remember they were fired in pits nearby, short on quality control) for an inner layer of brick "nogging," good for insulation. You can see the outer bricks holding on at the corner. You can see the nogging between the frame members, the interior plank walls. You can see her little warm soft handmade brick heart.

But like making friends with a very old person, and beginning to learn so much from them, the relationship ended too quickly. Last week I made a return trip to the area, on a quest for a log house I'd read about. I carefully passed a large flatbed truck parked at the roadside. Men were loading a large yellow machine. I'd travelled a bit farther before I realized that I must have passed the old house, so did a U-turn and came back. I found, not my little old friend under the big trees, but a smooth flat area of new soil where hours before, the little Mouck house had stood.

I asked some walkers, so deep was my feeling of denial at the death. "Yup, it was time that happened, it was falling down". Great. A spot for another vinyl sided, many-gabled fake craftsman style house. History here? Nope.