Dating historic fabric can get kind of tricky. Technical clues can be relatively uninformative (OK, they used wire nails, so the work is likely to date somewhere between the 1880s and today, now what?) or misleading (the original Norfolk latches were reinstalled on another door one hundred years later during the Colonial Revival). So it’s nice when somebody actually writes it down. You, know, like on a piece of wood.
Yesterday, we found such a marker on a wood furring strip in the Federal NW study. So why a date from the Truman Presidency rather than, say, the Madison or Van Buren Presidency? Remodeling, of course. In 1950 (June 28 to be exact), the owners of the house at the time (The New York State Training School for Girls) lowered the ceiling and installed some (lovely) fake wood paneling and bookcases. The dated furring strip was used to even out the original plaster wall and provide a nailing surface for the new finishes being installed.
This installation was likely prompted by the poor condition of the plaster wall in 1950 which probably was a result of the unaddressed rot conditions in the exterior wall behind it. But that is all speculation. June 28, 1950; that’s a fact.
Kudos to Jesse Tuttle, Jr. for making this discovery.