Federal Architectural Style c. 1790 - c. 1830
THE 1812 HELME HOUSE
The exterior plan consists of a central hall plan with a five-bay facade arrangement with center front and rear doors.
Construction - post and beam, wood pegged. Locust tree trunks were used as upright posts for support in the cellar. There has been speculation that the house was built in sections as that was a standard building practice prior to 1820.
Doorway - with flanking sidelights decorated only by pilasters with flat entablature and a six-paneled wood front door. The front door consists of six panels that were created by applied molding pieces. There was a build-up of eight coats of paint but the original color was ochre and the molding was dark brown.
Flooring - consists of yellow pine planks measuring from 7" wide to 9 1/2" wide. There are replacement boards in various locations consisting of fir or spruce. Additionally several of the rooms have floorboards of greater width which are decidely of an earlier period in time and most probably came from the 1720's House.
Foundation - was constructed of coursed fieldstone with mortared brick laid on top of the foundation. The north section of the house including the center hallway have a full cellar whereas the south section did not have a full cellar but rather just mortared brick walls placed beneath the frost line with a two foot dead air space. Unfortunately the air space did not prevent moisture as the two floors directly above were lost due to wood rot and insect destruction and subsequently were replaced by Arthur Lambert in 1957 (second best parlor) and 1972 (dining room).
Glass - all remaining original panes of glass have been inventoried.
Paint Colors - initial finding on the exterior wood shingles and trim around the window shows to be ochre milk paint. The first color on the front door is of the same ochre and the applied moldings of a dark brown. Further chemical analysis will be forthcoming.
Porch (front) - the only remnant of the original is a visible outline created by a paint build-up over the years thereby showing a profile of bench seats beneath the sidelights on either side of the doorway. In Victorian times there was verandah on the east and north side of the house in keeping with the latest style. One of the original posts from the verandah had been cut and a portion left exposed on the north side of the house. After that only a small slanted roof with two supporting columns as seen in an early photo of the house. Finally in the 1920/30’s an oversized Georgian one bay entry porch was added as a replacement portico giving a true Federal home the appearance of being Georgian in design.
Porch (rear) - the original plan for the house more than likely had similar porches for the front and rear of the house. Today neither porch is original to the house.
Roof line is gabled with prominent end chimneys at the north/south ends.
Roofing material was originally cedar shakes and then tin was placed over the shakes probably some time during the 4th quarter of the 19th century or early 20th century. Additionally there were two asphalt roofs on top of those earlier materials that were removed in November 2005 and an architectural roofing material was installed. The early tin and cedar roofing material was not disturbed.
Shutters that are currently on the house were found in the attic and re-installed on the house by Arthur Lambert and appear to be from the late 1800's. They have venting slats and the original green color may have been what was known as Paris Green. This green color had also been found as one of the many layers of paint on the front door.
Siding material executed in wood shingles with 13” exposed to the weather and painted white. Additionally there are corner boards.
Windows have narrow proportions with simple casings and slender mullions with six panes over six. The original color on the windows and surrounds was ochre/yellow. The recycled windows most likely from the 1720’s house are nine panes over six and these are found on the west side (or back) of the house. In both cases, these windows are double hung consisting of a fixed upper sash and moveable lower one. When opened, the window can be held in place by a metal pin in the lower section.
The interior plan is a center hallway with four over four configuration. Decoration shows simplicity and lightness of detail in keeping with the architectural design of the Federal period. There are seven fireplaces in this house including the one in the Summer Kitchen that was attached to this structure.
Doors - panelled with many of the doors with faux bois finishes to resemble mahagony with satinwood inserts.
Fireplaces - this house consists of seven working fireplace all with either an attached closet or cabinet that are discussed in more detail in the Room-By-Room Tour link.
Moldings - the baseboard produced for the 1812 House has been taken down to the original Oyster White milk paint. Portions of molding on the north side of the house appear to be of earlier manufacture and most probably recycled from the the 1720's House.
Walls - plaster walls containing horse or pig hair.
Please refer to the Room-By-Room Tour link below for additional information on the specific attributes of the various interior rooms.
The attic in the 1812 House structure is post and beam construction and secured by wooden pegs. In order to support the wide span of the roof what is known as a queen post truss was used which placed two posts between the roof and the outside edges of the collar beam and another beam was between the heads of the post to strengthen this roofing system. This arrangement of three triangles allowed for a large center space and storage space between the sloping roofline sections.
The large expanse of attic is a wonderful space along with early cedar shake roofing which is still fully visible. There is a door or hatch at the ridgeline allowing access to the roof for repairs or re-shingling.
The two end chimneys in the attic twist to make quarter turns and catching the flues from three fireplaces each. The name of the mason now long lost but credit is due him for this engineering endeavor.
SUMMER KITCHEN & SLAVE QUARTERS
Attached to the rear of the 1812 House is a building that predates it considerably and most probably had been moved from another location on the the Helme property. This building appears to have been built in the 1700's based on more primitive construction, doors and the hardware used thereon. One interior wall treatment shows wide boards were placed vertically and the other three interior wall have horizontal wide board wainscotting with plaster walls above it. This was a popular wall treatment for houses from the second half of the 18th century. This structure houses the summer kitchen, buttery and on the second floor is the slave loft that is reached by a steep staircase. There is one large open cooking fireplace. The cellar shows the possible remains of a cellar fireplace as some of the mortared brick walls that would have been part of the enclosure are still standing.
Restoration revealed mirrored chiseled Roman numerals on a connecting beam and post in the Buttery giving us an indication that the house most likely had been assembled on the ground and then "raised".
In the attic or loft area of the SUMMER KITCHEN is a simple roof system consisting of a ridgepole and common purlins which are connecting boards horizontal to the rafters. A new chimney had to be constructed through the attic and aligned to the existing exterior chimney which was used for venting the heating system.