Antique or Just Old?
|Typical 18th Century Timber Framed House|
Up until the mid-nineteenth century houses were timber framed. The trees were felled, the frame was hand hewn, then raised. The interior rooms were laid out and the walls were not load bearing. The sturdy frame supported the house, not the studded walls.
Houses had big chimneys encompassing several fireplaces. The "hall" or kitchen fireplaces were large and equipped with an oven for baking. The other fireplaces could be utilized from time to time for heating.
18th Century Ten Foot Cooking Fireplace
As the years passed frames and fireplaces alike evolved from bigger to smaller; both in terms of a lighter hewn frame and in smaller fireplaces that were more effective for heating.
As the mid-century mark approached, circa 1840, stoves became more commonplace for heating. During this time it was not unusual to find a stove in the parlor even though the cooking fireplace prevailed for a while longer. Eventually, even the cooking fireplace was replaced by a cast iron kitchen range. A society of women who had always cooked over an open fire finally embraced the new lifestyle and fireplaces disappeared entirely in new construction.
|A Comfortable Late 19th Century Kitchen. |
(If you look closely you can see evidence of a cooking
fireplace behind the stove when the kitchen was updated)
|Classic Greek Revival with Gable Facing The Street|
(Notice the triangular pediment at the top which seems
to be supported by the traditional four columns.)
This evolution from hand-made is important for me in determining my own personal definition of an antique house. True antique houses, in my own opinion, are the handmade (hand hewn) houses that employed fireplaces for cooking and h eating. The demise of the timber frame and the phasing out of fireplaces occurred almost simultaneously, especially during the decade of the 1840s.
So what do I call these other old houses that don't fit my definition of antique?
House styles were changing in appearance as well. Many pattern books, no longer from England but purely American, were readily available. The symmetry of older houses faded. Houses were designed from the inside out and new styles were appearing in quick succession. This was the long Victorian period paralleling the reign of Queen Victoria. There are many subtitles to describe the parade of house styles from the last half of the 19th century. First came Greek Revivals; the first to have the gable end of the house facing the street. Gothic houses and cottages such as my house followed. Rounding out the 19th century were a whole string of styles under the umbrella we call Victorian but more specifically called Italianate, French Second Empire (Mansard), Eastlake or Queen Ann. Last came the shingle style transitioning into the new 20th century with another whole parade of styles to follow.
|Queen Ann Victorian with Tower|
A good example of a late 19th century Victorian house. Queen
Anne houses were asymmetrical with rounded, no square, towers.
Whether it be furniture, a house or even things made from fabric; if it is 19th century and hand made it is surely an antique, houses included.
There is no hard and fast rule. You can make your own choices as to what is or is not antique. It's up to you! My house is balloon framed and has no fireplaces but it is 150 years old. So what would you call it?
Thanks for visiting my blog. There will be more to follow. Stay tuned!
PS And by the way, you saw that awful looking dilapidated house at the top of this post? It is a lovely Georgian, circa 1750, house and it isn't dilapidated any more. Even the worst of houses CAN be restored. Take a look!