Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Think Young

 I don't know how many times over the years I've passed this house, set far back from the road in the old way, and sighed to myself, "you little beauty you". Today my eye caught the glow of warm green grass, and the gulls exploring the temporary pond in the front field - and my heart said 'stop'.

So I obeyed and grabbed my camera for a long-range photo - though everything in me wanted to walk up the driveway and hug the people who have protected this house over its long life.

When I got home and checked my photos, I was rewarded by a glimpse of the familiar red and white rosette of a PEC heritage designation plaque, which led me to my Designated Properties file containing the designation bylaws and descriptions of the county's precious heritage buildings.
So I'm delighted to know its name! This lovely little house with its evenly coursed squared limestone on the main house and an unusual stone kitchen wing to the side (in the 'American' style) and rare chinoiserie glazing in the front door sidelights (and a heartbreakingly beautiful setting) is the house built by Job Young in the 1830's or early 1840's. It's an astonishing early house, with a heavy cornice flavoured by the Greek Revival influence of the day. Would love to see the gable ends, likely some gracious eaves returns there. The sash windows - oh, could they be original? Eight over twelve in the house, twelve over twelve in the kitchen wing. No plate glass anywhere!

I consulted my go-to guys Cruikshank and Stokes (The Settler's Dream, 1984) for background. Job was son of Robert Young, pioneer, who sold the property to his son in 1810. I wrote about his father's house, the wonderful frame one, still standing, near The Carrying Place, back  in November, 2010, a scant 200 years later.
ashlar lintels and quoins

Stokes and Cruikshank make some interesting observations about the stonework. They comment on the stone lintels above the windows - 'soldier lintels' I've heard them called - composed of shaped stones stood on their ends. Other houses of that period might have opted for the carved stone lintels of this house, the c.1840 Philip Way house in Sophiasburgh township.

Perhaps economy, maybe availability, likely practicality, forced the choice.
granite fieldstone adds texture to the woodhouse wing

Another stonework curiosity they describe is the use of the nicely squared regularly coursed limestone on the front facade, and more utilitarian rougher stone - in this case, granite fieldstones - for the utilitarian, and less visible back wall of the wing. I wasn't able to get a look at the back (although there is a photo on page 347 of SD), but the shot of the 1861 James Johnson house in Athol shows the same practical solution.

No comments:

Post a Comment