Saturday, June 12, 2010

Under the Vinyl

There has been a pleasant thing happening along Lower St George Street in Annapolis Royal. This section of road near the O'Dell House Museum boasts some wonderful heritage buildings including four buildings which would be contemporary to the arrival of the New England Planters in the 1760s or the United Empire Loyalists in the 1780s. Once considered the wrong side of the tracks, (literally when the trains came to the town's wharf) this part of the town is now one of the loveliest neighbourhoods you could imagine. With a stunning view of Granville Ferry and the Annapolis Basin, this street is a mix of residential, small businesses, and accommodations. Oh yes, there is a museum there as well.

So, you ask, what has been happening along this section of street. Well, there has been some road and sidewalk being done but that is not the topic of this post. What I have noticed is that homeowners are changing the siding on their houses from vinyl to wooden shingles. Since this is so contrary to what I see in most places, let me phrase it another way. They are replacing vinyl siding with traditional wooden shingles. I must say that as an advocate for the traditional appearance of Nova Scotia buildings that I am very pleased with what I see happening.

This move toward the traditional started last autumn when our neighbour at the O'Dell House Museum decided to change the front of his house to shingles. I watched this process with great interest. When a couple of other homeowners saw how nice the wood looked, they made the decision to switch. At this point, we have one house which has been completely resided, one which is in the process and a third which will be done later this summer. If asked I would happily say that this improves an already beautiful section of Annapolis Royal.

When I arrived at work on Friday afternoon I noticed that a couple of workers were busy taking the vinyl siding off the side of our neighbour's house. Since I always like to take advantage of opportunities to document the buildings in town, I decided to snap some pictures. At this point in the day, they were removing the vinyl to reveal an asphalt shingle siding from early in the history of this 1935 house. I was amused to see an arching pattern along the side of the building which showed the existence of some long dead bush or shrub. After years of swaying in the wind the branches had left their mark on the side of the house.

Later in the day I came back to see if there was anything interesting under the asphalt shingles. What I saw confirmed some of the oral history of this house. It had long been said that this house was built using recycled lumber from the house which had previously stood on this site. Through the years, this earlier structure was known as both the Acadia House and the Commercial House. When everything was stripped back you could clearly see that the boards were recycled. I have tried to photograph some of the more interesting boards. One board was marked with a sawyer's Roman numeral X. This same board had the bent ends of two square nails. Another board had a very clear hole where a square nail had been removed. Square nails of this sort would not have been commonly used in the 1930s. Many of the boards bore the unmistakable mark of a vertical saw. Two other boards have been planed smooth and have a painted finish. These were clearly once used as floorboards. It pleases me to no end that not only are we ending up with a better street scape but I have had the opportunity to learn more about one of our local houses.

All for now,

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to see the changes on my next visit :)