One of my craftsmen, who has developed a fair eye for spotting an ancient building,
tipped me off to a house not too far from his own near Tweed Ontario. It sounded promising so we drove to its nearest driveway for a closer look. Clomping over an overgrown roadway and up a hill, there it sat, somewhat worse for wear on its exterior but worthy of close inspection. The proportions were great, about what we’d expect for a house of this vintage, probably mid-nineteenth century. We both thought it could be a log house, covered over with asphalt siding. Inspection at one corner proved it to be a post and beam structure.
I’d always valued these, if in good condition, as much as the early hand-hewn log houses that became our stock-in-trade. We left it for now, hoping to find the owner of the farm so we might pursue the inspection further. Fortunately, that done, and with his permission, we entered with the owner to find the interior dirty of course, neglected for many years. But dirt and strewn hay did not deter us. The craftsmanship we confronted was impressive. Beautifully hand-hewn floor joists carried the second floor. There was an open cupboard inset into a wall, layered with paint from decades of use. The windows and doors carried their original casings. There were even chair rails at windowsill height. And, most surprising, was the staircase to the upper floor. It had about as many winders that you could cram into a 180-degree turn. Not the most convenient, but certainly most charming…and ingenious, with the kind of tread-wear we covet as antiquarians.
As we wound our way upstairs, we found the usual height of the knee wall for a story and a half structure, about four feet. The plates that carried the roof seemed good and the 4” x 4” rafters were intact and a lovely color that would create a lovely ceiling. But the great find was the floorboards. They were wide, tongue and grooved, and unpainted. A simple wash would bring their beauty back to life.
It turns out to be a little beauty and worth the work to find it a new place to house a small family or to be added as an addition to one of our log houses now available. We intend to take it down with great care, numbering every part as we always do. It will be lightly washed and stored away until someone comes along who may appreciate it as much as we do.