IS IT "COLONIAL BALONIAL"? TEN WORDS BEST NOT USED
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century following the Centennial of 1876 there arose a renewed interest in the past. Some of this was a reaction to the sometimes "over the top" Victorian taste but also inspired by the one hundredth celebration of our independence.There was a renewed interest in the styles and object from the past. There was also a new group of historians immersed in this trend. Not having the sources we have for reference they invented words and promoted the trend toward Colonial Revival. Now, one hundred and thirty plus years later. some of these quaint terms have become part of our vocabulary, right or wrong. Here are some of the most offending terms to avoid. There are many more but let's start with ten.
1. BORNING ROOM A small room off the kitchen reserved for childbirth.
|Plan of 18th century house showing first floor bedroom.|
FACT: A first floor bedroom located off the kitchen for the convenience of anyone in the house needing warmth, supervision, or unable to climb the stairs.
2. MORTGAGE BUTTON An ivory decoration on the top of the newel post in the front stair hall capping a hollowed out cylinder in which the paid off mortgage or deeds were secreted.
|Ivory button in middle of newel post for decoration.|
3. KEEPING ROOM The colonial kitchen.
|This is a typical kitchen with cooking fireplace, not a keeping room.|
FACT: A word not used in colonial
New England. In old documents that room is simply called
FACT: Tories needed, by necessity, to be inconspicuous. The painted chimney is a 20th century decoration.
5. DUTCH OVEN: The brick oven built into the fireplace.
|A modern Dutch oven or iron pot being used in a modern |
fireplace in the traditional manner.
FACT; A dutch oven is a pot used for cooking on the hearth and has nothing to do with the construction of the fireplace or bake oven.
5. WIDOWS' WALKS" A rooftop perch from which the wife would scan the horizon for a glimpse of her husband's ship returning from a voyage.
|This is a widows walk, an open deck on the top of the house.|
6. KING BOARDS: Boards intended for the king because of their size and used illegally by housewrights.
|People are fascinated by the story of wide boards being|
illegal. Owners of old houses think they have illegal floors!
FACT: The widest boards were used like plywood would be used today to cover a large space quickly. They were used for attic floors and sheathing. There is a kernel of truth here. The king's men did select the best trees they could find for masts for the English Navy.
7. INDIAN SHUTTERS: Wooden interior shutters used for protection from Indians.
|Folding or sliding shutter were used for privacy, |
shade in summer or warmth in winter.
FACT: These folding or sliding shutters were introduced long after the days of Indians. They were used for privacy or protection from the sun and cold.
8. SHIP CARPENTERS: Shipbuilders who built houses in the winter or carved woodwork on shipboard
FACT: Houses were built by housewrights. Slanting floors, doors and windows are due to rotted sills. Houses were not deliberately built crooked so that the captain would feel comfortable on land.
9. HL HINGES In religious New England HL stands for "Holy Lord".
FACT: The HL hinge is simply the usual "H" hinge with an extra leg for supporting heavier doors
10. FEDERALIST: A three story house or captain's house from about 1800 such as those on
Chestnut Street in Salem or n High Street in Newburyport, or elsewhere
throughout the region. Portsmouth
|A typical New England two story house|
from the Federal period, circa 1800