Peeling Back The Roof

On Wednesday afternoon, Jesse began carefully prying up the metal roofing along the North wall bay.  His intent was to evaluate the condition of the first floor top plate and examine the original Federal period (circa 1812) gutter encapsulated underneath the sheathing boards.    And this time, it was all there:

Looking left to right, you can see (1) the later crown molding added after the gutter was enclosed (2) a 1″ wide nailer used to attach the crown molding (3) the gutter itself, with a hand carved 3″ channel to conduct rainwater  (4) later blocking (running across the gutter) used to support the sheathing boards nailed on top when the gutter was enclosed (5) the original bevelled sheathing boards which guided water down to the gutter.

Here’s another view, with all the later work removed:

Jesse said this is the best preserved original gutter he has seen in a long time.  Also visible in the photo (right of the gutter) is the top plate timber supporting the wall below, which, thankfully, survives in good condition on top of most of the bay (one less thing to repair).

The gutter channel was carved out a single piece of wood (about 8″ wide) with the bottom carved into the profile found scribed into the shingles of the addition.   The gutter was hung approximately level and the pitch was controlled primarily by the depth of the channel (about 1.5″ on on end and 3/4″ on the other over an 8′ run).  This gutter was clearly not intended to handle the volume of storm water we have experienced recently.

Another very interesting thing revealed on Wednesday was evidence that this gutter was painted (rather than tarred or lined with lead) at some point in its history. There are remnants of  a light yellow ochre paint (approximately the color of buttermilk or pancake batter) which roughly matches samples taken on the shingles and an earlier/primer coat of dark brown paint splashed on the sides of the gutter:

More analysis is needed to determine exactly what we have here.  Was the paintwork original to the house?  Was it just slop from the shingles or an intentional protective coating for the gutter? Or does it date from the Davis renovations of 1839 or 1849?



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