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Notes from the Field

3/4/2011: Log Barn in Livingston County

One of our current Survey and Planning grants went out to Preservation Kentucky to survey rural sites in Crittenden and Livingston Counties. Architectural historians with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey are conducting the fieldwork and research. We recently travelled out there to get a look at the project area and hold two public meetings to kick off the project. One of the highlights of our trip was this wonderful double crib log barn in Livingston County, probably from the late 19th century.

Exterior view of log barn, Livingston County, Kentucky, 2/22/2011

Interior view of log barn, Livingston County, 2/22/2011
















10/29/2010 Architectural Clues to Date Old Houses

When you are trying to figure out the date of an old house, begin with the structure, then think about the style. If you can get into the basement or the attic, some of the best clues can be found there. How are the joists and rafters cut and joined? What sorts of tool marks are visible? The detail below is from a Shelby County house that was heavily remodeled in the later 19th century, and modernized again in the 20th, but the bones of the house reveal its early 19th century origins.  In the picture, we are in the cellar looking overhead at a log floor joist that has been hewn flat on the top surface. The floorboards do not have any conspicuous saw marks, suggesting they came from a mill, but they have been undercut where they lie on the joists, to level the floor surface above. 

Early floor boards varied in thickness.  In locations where their undersides would not be commonly visible, builders only planed the top surface of the boards. The bevel along the edges of the floorboards follows a gauge line struck a common distance from the top edge along the sides of each board.  This tells the carpenter how deeply to undercut the board  at the joist to level it - thus, these are called "gauged and undercut" floor boards. You might find examples of this as late as the 1830s-1840s, but it mostly ceases by about the 1820s. After that, the mills produce machine planed floorboards of even thickness so there is no need to level them in this way. You are also more likely to find the floor joists hewn or sawn into a rectangular profile in later houses.

Undercut floorboards and log joist, Shelby County

10/28/2010: Saving Historic Windows

This past week at the International Preservation Trades Workshop one of the hot topics concerned the hows and whys of preserving historic windows. We had excellent demonstrations from Jack Patchin, Richard Spigelmyer, James Turner, Neal Vogel, and Bob Yapp.  All of them agree that historic windows are less expensive to repair than they are to replace, that once repaired their energy efficiency meets or exceeds that of replacement windows, and that saving them is critical to maintaining the architectural integrity of historic buildings.  You can read more about the presentations hereExternal Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

If you would like more information about saving your historic windows, please contact our office.  More information on Preservation Skills Training can also be found on our website here:

Pictured below is a beautiful window from a house in Mackville.

  Window from WS-768, Mackville, Washington County

6/17/2010: Cumberland County, Dubre

Anderson Store, Dubre, KentuckyYesterday, I was lucky enough to go on a drive to Cumberland County to look at several sites around Dubre and Marrowbone, out on route 90, West of Burkesville. This is a great place to explore, there's a lot to see in Cumberland County, and some interesting sites along the way there as well. Featured here is the Anderson Grocery Store (CU 162) in Dubre, west of Marrowbone. The store has lots of historic details intact such as the bread sign on the back door, below. If you're in the area on a hot day like yesterday was, drop in and have a soda.

Places like this really define the special character of rural Kentucky, and preserving them is important to our heritage, to tourism, and to our economy. You can see the 1985 survey form for the Anderson Grocery Store here:  CU 162 Survey Form [pdf: 384kb]

Bread sign on door, Anderson Store

5/4/2010: Some thoughts on the flood.

High water in Frankfort, 5/4/2010

This posting is a little off topic for this page, but today’s cresting of the Kentucky River at flood stage is a sobering reminder of the many threats that can imperil historic properties.  As floods go, this one is not particularly high, but it came up quickly - just a few days of exceptionally hard rain was all it took. It's easy to imagine it could have been much worse. Even so, there are quite a few homes that are going to suffer some damage out there. Here's hoping it's not extensive.

If you own a building damaged by a flood, historic or not, there is some helpful information available here: External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

Note: Archived Notes from the Field entries for the past year can be found here: Notes from the Field (4/20/2009 - 4/1/2010).




For further information

Livingston County BarnDo you have a historic site you would like to know more about? Call us at the Heritage Council and we'll be glad to assist you. For more information about the Kentucky Historic Resources Inventory, contact:

Marty Perry
Interim Survey Coordinator
(502) 564-7005, ext. 132


Last Updated 11/20/2014