Pop Quiz

What feature, found in only a handful of 18th-century homes, does the Hammond-Harwood House share with the Warner House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire? I’ll give you a minute to think about it.

The answer is…doweled floors! Using dowels rather than nails to attach floorboards was more complicated and therefore significantly more expensive. Warner House was built in 1716 for Archibald Macpheadris and the bills from its construction still exist. Joiner John Drew charged Macpheadris 30 shillings per one hundred square feet to install the doweled floor but only 12 shillings per one hundred square feet for the rest of the floors. Unfortunately we don’t have the bills from the construction of the Hammond-Harwood House, but because of the ways the floors have worn down in the small parlor of the first floor we are able to show visitors just how they were put together. It’s a small detail, but a unique one that ties the Hammond-Harwood to some of the grandest Colonial houses in America.

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2 Comments

Filed under Architecture, History

2 responses to “Pop Quiz

  1. This is uncanny because we were discussing just this point yesterday at the Chase-Lloyd House at 22 Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. It appears that their first floor is dowelled and the upper floors are splined. We had an unusual chance to see into the top side of the magnificent plaster ceiling from the room directly above it because some of the second floor boards are cracking at the spines. This wouldn’t be happening if they were pegged!

  2. Betty Titman Corioni

    It sounds like every item no matter how small or costly was done to make this home a truly beautiful and functional home.

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